Irish American Director to Helm Washington National Opera

Timothy O'Leary is the new director of the Washington National Opera.

By Dave Lewis, Editorial Assistant
February / March 2018

Timothy O’Leary (right) has taken the United States opera scene by storm as the recently-appointed general director of the Washington National Opera at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. O’Leary previously worked in New York City as a part of the management at the New York City Opera and was the first managing director of Gotham Chamber Opera. Most recently, he served as the general director at the Opera Theater of Saint Louis.

O’Leary is known for championing newly-created operas and enthusiastically claims this decade to be “a golden age” of new American works. Some of these works include Champion, an opera based around boxing and jazz, and Shalimar the Clown, based on the Salman Rushdie novel of the same name.

O’Leary earned a reputation in St. Louis for his strong support of the artists who write and perform in these new American operas and his great strides in interacting with the community surrounding the Opera Theater of Saint Louis. The lasting impact he made on the Opera Theater of Saint Louis piqued the interest of Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter. “He’s a very thoughtful leader,” Rutter, who handpicked O’Leary, told the Washington Post. As his track record suggests, this Irish American takes after the man in whose honor the home of the National Opera center was named. ♦  Dave Lewis 

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