Opera Philadelphia

Published1 Oct 2015

Opera Philadelphia Extends Contracts of General Director David B. Devan and Music Director Corrado Rovaris through 2020

Kristy Edmunds and Peggy Monastra also join the Opera team as Artistic Advisors

Board Chairman Daniel K. Meyer, M.D. announced today that Opera Philadelphia’s Board of Directors has extended David B. Devan’s contract as the company’s General Director and President, and Corrado Rovaris’s contract as the Jack Mulroney Music Director, through the end of the 2019-2020 Season.

Both David Devan and Corrado Rovaris have been dynamic leaders at Opera Philadelphia, guiding the company through a transformative period of innovation that led Opera News to describe it as “one of the leading instigators of new work in the country.” Under their leadership and artistic vision, Opera Philadelphia has grown to become a company of international stature and a favorite co-producing partner with companies all over the globe, developing fresh productions of classic works as well as premieres written by today’s leading composers. The company has engaged and energized both established and emerging artists, providing opportunities for important role debuts for singers like Lawrence Brownlee, Eric Owens, Nathan Gunn, Stephanie Blythe, Christine Goerke, Leah Crocetto, and Lisette Oropesa. As The Daily Beast recently commented, “Opera Philadelphia has been at the forefront of commissioning new operas with contemporary subject matter and an innovative, genre-blending sensibility to snare a younger audience and revitalize opera for the 21st century.”

David Devan and Corrado Rovaris Credit: Gene Smirnov and Gabello Studios

“David Devan and Corrado Rovaris have transformed Philadelphia into a destination for opera lovers, delivering outstanding productions of traditional and new repertoire that engage our public and propel our genre forward,” said Meyer. “Over the past few seasons, I have continually heard praise for both David and Corrado from the leaders of our community, from their colleagues in the opera world, and from the many internationally-renowned artists who have performed on our stages. David and Corrado have a talent for identifying extraordinary artists, both established and emerging, and providing opportunities for them to create their most imaginative and inspired work here with Opera Philadelphia. The Board looks forward to many continued years of innovation and artistic excellence under their leadership.”

“I love Philadelphia and I am proud to continue serving Opera Philadelphia as General Director well into the future,” said Devan. “It is enormously gratifying to have been part of this company as we have launched initiatives such as the American Repertoire Program, Opera in the City, Opera on the Mall, and the Composer in Residence program. The Board's validation of our work strengthens our resolve to continue to develop opera for 21st century audiences.”

“Philadelphia has welcomed me and my family since we arrived ten years ago, and I am honored to continue in my role as Music Director with Opera Philadelphia,” said Rovaris. “I believe the work we are doing on the stage and in the city is truly having an important impact on our community, and I am excited by the opportunity to continue to work with the world’s greatest singers, the outstanding musicians in the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus, and the dedicated Board and staff of this company.”

The company also announced that Kristy Edmunds and Peggy Monastra have joined the staff as Artistic Advisors.

As an artist, curator, artistic director and frequent consultant internationally, Kristy Edmunds holds a reputation for innovation and depth in the presentation of contemporary art in all disciplines, with a particular emphasis on contemporary performing arts. Her expertise and professional relationships with some of the masters of the 20th and 21st Century performing artists, in addition to critical innovators in all disciplines of artistic practice has given her the reputation of possessing a depth of knowledge across a variety of art forms and projects. She is currently Executive and Artistic Director at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.

In her role with Opera Philadelphia, Edmunds will work with the artistic team to help shape and inform ways to incorporate contemporary artistic practice from other forms and genres, identifying artists outside of opera to include in development, creation and production phases of Opera Philadelphia work. As a member of the American Repertoire Council, she will participate in dialogues about actions that Opera Philadelphia can undertake to instigate, develop and support new American repertoire.

Kristy Edmunds and Peggy Monastra

Peggy Monastra has worked with G. Schirmer/AMP, a premiere international music publisher, for 22 years, most recently as Artistic Director. With a background in piano performance, pedagogy and musicology, her greatest interest has always been in working with contemporary music in all areas of the performing arts. She is a member of the Strategic Committees for both The Prototype Festival and for Opera America and is a member of the board of Alarm Will Sound. 

In her role with Opera Philadelphia, Monastra will help Opera Philadelphia discover, cultivate and secure artistic, production, and financial partners for current and future new commissions and new productions.

Edmunds and Monastra join Opera Philadelphia’s artistic advisory staff which also includes baritone Nathan Gunn, who has served as Director of the American Repertoire Council since 2012, and Mikael Eliasen, Artistic Director of Curtis Opera Theatre.

David B. Devan joined Opera Philadelphia in January 2006 and was appointed General Director of the company in 2011. Since his arrival, David has worked closely with the Board and administration on strategic planning initiatives and building partnerships within the community and the opera world. Key achievements include the establishment of the Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater, an extremely popular and highly-subscribed opera series at the Kimmel Center's intimate 550-seat Perelman Theater; the establishment of the nation's first ever collaborative Composer in Residence Program with New York partners Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group, a comprehensive program funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation designed to foster the growth of tomorrow's great operatic composers; and the creation of the American Repertoire Program in 2011, committed to producing an American work in ten consecutive seasons, solidifying Opera Philadelphia’s role as a national leader in the creation of new works.

Under David’s leadership, Opera Philadelphia has commissioned or co-commissioned eight new operas, including this past June’s Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD by Daniel Schnyder and Bridgette Wimberly, starring Lawrence Brownlee, described as a “swift-paced chamber opera with a pulsing, jazz-infused score” by the New York Times; Cold Mountain, based on the best-selling novel by Charles Frazier and written by Jennifer Higdon and Gene Scheer, which makes its East Coast Premiere February 5-14, 2016; and Breaking the Waves by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, based on the film by Lars von Trier and making its World Premiere in Philadelphia in September 2016.

As immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and a member of the Opera America board, David considers it a privilege to serve in a city with rich and diverse cultural roots. He continues to work tirelessly to make opera an important part of our community.

Making his U.S. debut in 1999 conducting Opera Philadelphia’s Le nozze di FigaroCorrado Rovaris quickly became a company regular, leading to his appointment as the company’s first music director in 2005. He also holds the post of Music Director at the Artosphere Festival, founded in 2011 by the Walton Arts Center in Arkansas, and serves as Principal Conductor of the Italian chamber orchestra I Virtuosi Italiani, based in Verona.

Born in Bergamo, Italy, Maestro Rovaris graduated from the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Milan with degrees in composition, organ, and harpsichord. From 1992-1996 he was the assistant chorus master of the Teatro alla Scala and made his debut on the podium with Galuppi’s Il filosofo di campagna in a production by Associazione Lirica e Concertistica Italiana. He was subsequently invited to conduct at the Teatro Comunale in Florence and at the Rossini Opera Festival, and soon began appearing as a regular guest in many of the major Italian houses such as La Scala, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro La Fenice, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, and Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Internationally he has led productions for the Opéra de Lyon, Théâtre Municipal de Lausanne, Oper Köln, Oper Frankfurt, and Japan Opera Foundation in Tokyo, to name a few.

In October 2008 he conducted the Tucker Gala with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, featuring among other guest soloists Susan Graham and Bryn Terfel. He has also led a number of productions at the Santa Fe Opera, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Glimmerglass Opera. He has established a close connection with the Curtis Institute of Music, and since 2009 has led several joint Curtis-Opera Philadelphia productions. In the just-concluded 40th Anniversary Season, Maestro Rovaris led a new production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, a new production of Verdi’s Don Carlo, and the World Premiere of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD by composer Daniel Schnyder and librettist Bridgette Wimberly. The upcoming 41st season will find him on the podium for Verdi’s La traviata at the Academy of Music (October 2-11, 2015); the East Coast Premiere of Cold Mountain by composer Jennifer Higdon and librettist Gene Scheer (February 5-14, 2016 at the Academy of Music); and a charming production of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love at the Academy of Music (April 29-May 8, 2016).

Today’s announcement is part of the continuing evolution of a company Opera Now described as “a dynamic place to experience opera in the 21st century.” Now in its 41st season, Opera Philadelphia is committed to embracing innovation and presenting programming that broadens and diversifies the opera audience.

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