October 24, 2019

Press Release: Sue Dixon Named General Director of Portland Opera

Portland Opera’s Board of Directors is delighted to announce that Sue Dixon has been named as the company’s sixth general director.

“The Board of Directors is confident that Sue’s leadership positions the company to thrive,” says Curtis T. Thompson, MD, president of the board of directors of Portland Opera. “It is an exciting time, and the right time, to build the future of our opera company with a renewed commitment to the health and longevity of the organization.”

Dixon joined the company in May 2014 as director of development and was named director of external affairs in 2017, and interim general director in July of 2019. As Portland Opera’s director of development, Dixon stewarded major gifts and increased contributed revenue, helping the company achieve balance during a downtrend of earned revenue. She raised the profile of the company through its 50th Anniversary celebration, and two major fundraising events, both achieving their $1M goal for contributed revenue. As Portland Opera’s director of external affairs, she led the company through an innovative reorganization to integrate marketing, development, communications, and patron services functions—with a robust plan for growth, advocacy, and audience engagement.

The company recently announced that its programming will return to a September – May schedule, beginning with the 2020/2021 season.  In addition, Portland Opera has announced details for a five-year strategic plan, launching in conjunction with the schedule change. The plan includes three major strategies that will modernize business practices, augment community engagement, and balance the company’s budget. Dixon was instrumental in developing the groundwork and growth models that power the forward trajectory of the plan.

“I know, firsthand, what it takes to achieve strategic organizational growth,” says Dixon. “My passion is for connecting people with excellent and meaningful artistic and cultural experiences, and that comes with a commitment to community.  I am confident that Portland Opera can navigate our financial challenges as we embark on the strategies outlined in our plan. We have an amazing team in place, we have extraordinary artists and musicians whose work remains at the heart of our company, and we have patrons, advocates and supporters who care so deeply about this beautiful art form in our region. They deserve a healthy and thriving Portland Opera.”

Daniel Biaggi, of Palm Beach Opera, has joined Portland Opera’s executive team as interim artistic director. The bifurcation of the company’s executive leadership roles (the modification of the general director role, and the creation of the role of artistic director) aligns the company’s structure in support of the strategic plan. Biaggi was instrumental in Palm Beach Opera’s turnaround during his ten years as general director there and is known for his artistic and strategic leadership with opera companies, young artists, and singers. Biaggi’s work with Portland Opera will include a focus on artistic planning for the next two seasons, an artistic leadership role for the current season, and collaborating with Dixon and the company to plan and execute a search for a permanent artistic director (expected to be in place by the start of the 2022/23 season).

Portland Opera’s 2019/20 season opens on Friday, October 25th at the Keller Auditorium, with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.  Tickets and subscriptions for the 19/20 season are available now. The company’s touring educational production of Puccini’s La bohème can be seen and heard around the region in schools and community centers through December.

About Portland Opera 

Portland Opera exists to inspire, challenge, and uplift our audiences by creating productions of high artistic quality that celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera.

Since 1964, Portland Opera has contributed to the cultural, artistic, and economic landscape of the city and region that we love. We celebrate the beauty and breadth of the opera repertoire with performances that take place in the Keller Auditorium, Newmark Theatre, and the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre at the Hampton Opera Center. The company is also a committed educational partner, touring fully staged operas to schools and community centers throughout Oregon and SW Washington region each year, in addition to a host of other efforts designed to make opera accessible for all.

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Silja Tobin, Marketing & Communications Manager
Portland Opera