Kentucky Opera names Dallas’ Derrer as new general director, in 2nd recent hire among big local cultural groups

Madame Butterly
The 2016-17 season starts with the classic Madame Butterly.

Ian Derrer, artistic administrator at Dallas Opera for the past two years, started his career at New York City Opera in 2004, after receiving his masters degrees in opera production, voice and performing arts management from Northwestern University and Brooklyn College, and a bachelor’s of music in voice performance from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.

Kentucky Opera announced his appointment yesterday, effective Sept. 1. Derrer, 41, will oversee a 64-year-old organization with a $2.4 million budget. He succeeds David Roth, who died unexpectedly last July.

Ian Derrer

In 2006, Derrer moved to Chicago’s Lyric Opera, starting as rehearsal administrator and moving up to production director and head of the rehearsal department. In all, Derrer spent eight seasons there, with one summer as rehearsal director at Santa Fe Opera.

As artistic administrator at Dallas, Derrer oversees budgets for the orchestra, chorus, and principal artists as well as members of the artistic staff, orchestra librarian, orchestra manager, chorus secretary, and scheduling department. The company was founded in 1957, five years after Louisville’s. Its budget is considerably larger, however: $14.2 million for the year ended in June 2014, according to its most recent annual IRS tax return.

Dallas Opera CEO Keith Cerny praised Derrer’s work, telling The Courier-Journal that he “guided important artistic and patron relationships, in addition to serving as advisor to both the music director and me.”

Louisville’s 2016-17 season of three productions starts Sept. 23 at the Brown Theatre with Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Dallas Opera’s upcoming five-production season also includes Butterfly.

Shifting artistic leadership

Derrer’s is at least the second appointment this year of a new leader for a high-profile cultural institution; in May, Kevin Moore was named managing director of Actors Theatre. And their appointments followed those at two other groups during the past three years: The Louisville Orchestra hired Teddy Abrams as conductor starting in 2014, and the Speed Art Museum named Ghislain d’Humières director in 2013, amid a $50 million renovation and expansion project completed this spring.

In addition to New York and Dallas, Derrer’s other experience includes scheduling coordinator for the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Italy’s Chiari during the summers of 2001-2003. In the spring of 2004, he interned at Columbia Artists Management in the office of Ronald A. Wilford. That summer he was orchestra manager for Sinfonia Orchestra at the Aspen Music Festival and School.

David Roth

He will be Kentucky Opera’s fifth general director. He succeeds the late Roth, who oversaw the organization from 2006 until July 2015, when he died of a heart attack at age 56.

The opera company didn’t disclose how much Derrer will be paid. Roth was paid $117,000 in salary and benefits in the year ended in May 2014, according to the opera’s most recent annual IRS tax return available on GuideStar.

Moritz von Bombard founded Kentucky Opera in 1952 as one of the nation’s first regional opera companies, with a budget of just $10,000 for three operas.

Today, the group is led by attorney William Blodgett Jr., president of  the 40-member governing board‘s executive committee.

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