Tulsa Opera Board Announces Leadership Changes

Carol I. Crawford resigned from the Tulsa Opera Nov. 13, ending her 14-year tenure as the artistic leader of the company. Tulsa Opera’s Board of Directors appointed Associate Conductor and Chorusmaster Kostis Protopapas as interim artistic director. Crawford will conduct the Oklahoma premiere of “Lakme” in February 2008 that features Muskogee native Sarah Coburn in her Tulsa Opera debut.

A nationwide search is underway for an artistic director as well as a managing director. Dixie Reppe, former executive director of the YWCA of Tulsa, has been the interim managing director since July and will remain in that position until a replacement is found.

Crawford, who holds a doctorate in orchestral conducting from Yale University School of Music, appeared as a guest conductor with the company in 1991, was subsequently hired by the Board of Tulsa Opera in 1993 as artistic director and was appointed as general director in 1997.

“Tulsa Opera is a civic jewel, and I feel privileged to have been part of its colorful and unique history and culture,” says Crawford. “I am so thankful to the loyal donors and opera subscribers who have been steadfast during my time here. I will never forget the orchestra musicians and chorus members whose collaboration with some of the greatest opera singers in the country brought beauty, depth of heart and pleasure to thousands of people in this community.”

Crawford’s tenure at Tulsa Opera coincided with years of growth. The company’s budget more than doubled from $1.5 million in 1994 to $3.6 million in 2007 and the Opera’s endowment grew to more than $3.7 million. Additionally, ticket sales increase more than 60 percent, contributed income increased from $915,000 in 1993 to $2.6 million in 2007 and Tulsa Opera’s community outreach and patron support expanded. The growth of the company’s education and outreach programs during Crawford’s tenure also included her formation of the Tulsa Youth Opera in 1997.

Crawford improved the musical quality and raised the national profile of Tulsa Opera with the addition of 20th Century and American operas in the repertoire, including David Carlson’s “Dreamkeepers,” Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites,” Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen” and Robert Ward’s “The Crucible,” as well as the revival of operas by Wagner and Richard Strauss. Tulsa Opera was a co-producing company for the premiere of Rachel Portman’s “The Little Prince.”

Prior to joining Tulsa Opera, Crawford served as music director of San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theatre, music director of Houston Grand Opera’s Texas Opera Theatre, associate music director of the Virginia Opera and associate conductor of the Memphis Symphony. She has guest conducted in the United States and internationally with organizations including Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Portland Opera, Minnesota Opera, the New World Symphony, Long Wharf Theatre, the Landestheater Magdeburg and the Staatstheater Kassel. She studied with Leonard Bernstein, Sir Georg Solti, Otto-Werner Mueller and Boris Goldovsky. Crawford was invited by Bernstein to assist in the 1984 La Scala premiere of his opera “A Quiet Place.”
Interim Artistic Director Protopapas was hired by Crawford in 2001. His conducting credits with the company include productions of “Carmen,” “Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci” and “Le Nozze di Figaro” and student matinee performances of “The Cunning Little Vixen” and “La Boheme.” He will conduct “The Magic Flute” in April 2008.

Updated 12-18-2007

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