Knoxville Opera launches search for executive director

Esther BlevinsArts 865

Change is coming to the management team of Knoxville Opera. Effective July 1, 2020, Brian Salesky will continue as the company’s artistic director after holding the title of both executive director and artistic director.


In the coming months, Knoxville Opera will conduct a nationwide search for a new executive director to take on those responsibilities. “Brian has done an incredible job serving in both of these roles. He has put Knoxville Opera on a solid financial footing while also producing some of the finest operas in the southeast and beyond,” says Trey Coleman, current board chair. “It is remarkable a city the size of Knoxville has an opera company, much less one that delivers such fine performances, season after season. Brian has done an outstanding job cultivating a donor base and supporters that allow these productions to continue and all at a level of artistic integrity most commonly found in a major city.”

During his 15-year tenure as executive and artistic director, some of Maestro Salesky’s major accomplishments have included:

  • Bringing the company out of the severe debt he inherited with 14 consecutive debt-free seasons while creating an operating reserve of over $1 million
  • Building a robust education/community engagement program, annually providing programming for over 20,000 students and 30,000 adults in Knox and surrounding counties
  • Presenting in-school presentations of staged operas in English, an African-American Voices Series and Opera 101s
  • Elevating the artistic standard of the company’s productions with exciting artists who have gone on to international success
  • Expanding the company’s repertoire with the premieres of La Forza del Destino, The Girl of the Golden West, Manon, Mefistofele, Norma, I Puritani, Maria Stuarda, a unique three-venue Tosca, an on-site Cavalleria Rusticana at The Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the upcoming Tennessee Premiere of Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom
  • Appearing in 1,000 education/community engagement events
  • Conducting 87 performances
  • Producing 47 operas and concerts, 15 Rossini Festivals and 11 Knoxville Opera Goes to Church concerts
  • Receiving the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission Arts Award, Opera America’s Bravo Service Award and Rotary Club’s Rotarian of the Year Award.

Esther Blevins manages marketing, media and grants for the Knoxville Opera.

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