Published1 Nov 2017
Peter Leone Elected Board Chair of Opera Philadelphia
Leone succeeds Daniel K. Meyer, M.D., Immediate Past Chairman, whose leadership spurred growth and innovation
Katherine Christiano and Kelley Reilly Wolfington join Board of Directors
On the heels of its groundbreaking inaugural festival, O17, which The Wall Street Journal called “a dramatic reboot” of the company and The Washington Postcalled, “one of the most enjoyable additions to the fall calendar in years,” Opera Philadelphia has elected Peter Leone as Chairman and welcomed new members Katherine Christiano and Kelley Reilly Wolfington to its Board of Directors. Leone, who was elected at the October 28, 2017 meeting of the Board of Directors, succeeds Daniel K. Meyer, M.D. Dr. Meyer served as Chairman for five years during a period in which Opera Philadelphia “established itself as a model for innovation in the classical-music industry,” according to Opera News.
Peter Leone has been a member of Opera Philadelphia’s Board of Directors since 2012, most recently as Vice Chair and chair of the advancement committee, while also serving on the finance committee. He and his wife, Judy, are also members of the company’s Leadership Circle and were significant supporters of the inaugural Festival O.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Dan Meyer and our thoughtful colleagues on the Opera Philadelphia Board during a time of daring innovation,” said Leone. “We’ve embraced commitments to empower artists and to excite audiences. Now some of the most important operatic work in America happens on our stages. Opera Philadelphia challenges us all to think and to feel deeply—whether about new works or about beloved repertoire reimagined.”
Leone aims to build a solid financial foundation for further artistic achievement. “We have big creative objectives: to produce compelling performances for audiences in Philadelphia, to help great artists shape the future of opera, and to represent our city and its people to the international opera world. Those objectives require a lot of resources and, I believe, justify the needed investment. I’m excited to work with David Devan and a superb staff to realize Dan’s vision.”
Leone currently serves as president of Robin Hood Ventures, a Philadelphia-based investment group focused on high-growth startups en route to building great companies. He enjoyed a 33-year career first as Executive Vice President (1979-1986) and President (1986-2012) of Leone Industries, a family-owned manufacturer of glass bottles and jars, with 350 employees based in Bridgeton, NJ. He currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, PA, and is a trustee at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center and the Creative Glass Center of America, both in Millville, NJ. He holds both a BA and MA in history from Stanford University, and a JD in law from the University of Chicago Law School. He and his wife Judy live in Villanova with their daughters, Kate and Mariana.
Also appointed as officers at the Vice Chairs Caroline J. MacKenzie Kennedy and Charles C. Freyer; Secretary Eugene E. Stark, Jr.; and Treasurer Thomas Mahoney.
O17, the inaugural edition of Opera Philadelphia’s game-changing new annual season-opening festival, launched like a rocket in September, blazing a trail critical and popular acclaim and reinventing the urban opera experience. “The current spirit of Opera Philadelphia is not to follow taste but to lead it,” said The Philadelphia Inquirer, while The Denver Post exclaimed, “Opera’s road to the future just might start in Philadelphia.” New York classical music station WQXR-FM said the festival reflected the city’s spirit of revolution. “Wherever I went, local people were speaking with pride about the company even if they had never attended a performance,” said WQXR’s Fred Plotkin. “I felt like I was in Milan or Vienna.”
That spirit of advancing the art form while invigorating the community continues to attract new investment and leadership. Two new Board members were welcomed at the October 28 meeting.
Formerly the Director of Development at the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, Katherine Christiano is currently devoting time to nonprofit boards around the city, including William Penn Foundation, Stoneleigh Foundation, and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. During her 7.5 years with Snider Hockey, she coached youth of all ages and skill levels but focused primarily on the Girls 10 & Under travel team. Previous to Snider Hockey, she taught preschool and pre-k at Wilmington Friends School. Her passion for the arts and particularly opera started with her grandparents taking her to shows in middle school. When not in Board meetings, Kathy can be found on the ice playing hockey with her husband Drew, volunteering with West Philadelphia Alliance for Children, or running around the city with her two huskies.
“Extraordinary patronage of the arts is a catalyst for artistic achievement,” said Christiano. “I look forward to working with the leadership at Opera Philadelphia to continue to draw new audiences to the art form and, in turn, attract the new patrons needed to support the special work being done by this organization.”
Kelley Reilly Wolfington is a Vice President and Relationship Strategist of Hawthorn, PNC Family Wealth®, a business dedicated to serving the needs of individuals and families with investable assets in excess of $20 million. Prior to joining Hawthorn, she worked as a Senior Trust and Fiduciary Specialist with Wells Fargo Private Bank, where she delivered advisory-based services to clients with highly complex wealth management planning needs. Wolfington is a longtime supporter of Opera Philadelphia, serving on the Institutional Advancement and Gala committees and as ambassador with the VIVACE community for young professionals. She earned a BS in Finance from Villanova University. She and her husband Richard live in Wayne with his son and they all enjoy traveling and the occasional game of golf.
“Opera Philadelphia has the unique opportunity to harness entrepreneurial change-making and creative potential that will reignite our collective imagination for opera,” said Wolfington. “As a Philadelphian, I am exceptionally proud of what their work has meant for our city and I look forward to supporting the company in the years ahead as we reach even greater heights of artistic innovation.”
About Opera Philadelphia
On the heels of its groundbreaking inaugural festival, O17, which The Washington Post called, "one of the most enjoyable additions to the fall calendar in years," Opera Philadelphia continues to author the future of opera. The launch of this annual season-opening festival fortified Opera Philadelphia's reputation as "one of the most progressive forces on the opera scene" and "a model for innovation in the classical-music industry" (Opera News). The inaugural Festival O featured three critically-acclaimed world premieres—Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell's Elizabeth Cree, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Marc Bamuthi Joseph's We Shall Not Be Moved, and David Hertzberg's The Wake World —the sold-out Philadelphia premiere of War Stories featuring I Have No Stories To Tell You by Lembit Beecher and Monteverdi's Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, and the crowd-pleasing exclusive East Coast appearance of Komische Oper Berlin's The Magic Flute. Opera Philadelphia continues its mainstage season this spring at the Academy of Music with new productions of George Benjamin's Written on Skin (Feb. 9-18, 2018) and Georges Bizet's Carmen (Apr. 27-May 6).