General Director & CEO

Cincinnati Opera
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Type of Position: 
Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Cincinnati Opera, the second-oldest opera company in North America, is one of the most highly regarded in the nation. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, Cincinnati Opera is known for its longstanding partnership with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a roster of world-class singers, and its iconic 2,400-seat performance venue—Cincinnati Music Hall (Music Hall). Cincinnati Opera has received numerous accolades and awards, including a recent nomination for a prestigious International Opera Award.


Founded in 1920, Cincinnati Opera began at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, where it presented a summer festival of grand opera for more than half a century. In 1972 the company moved to its current home in Music Hall, which completed a spectacular $145 million renovation in 2017. In recent years, Cincinnati Opera has undertaken an Opera Campus initiative, expanding the company’s reach beyond Music Hall into additional nearby venues. These include the 750-seat Corbett Theater at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, the intimate Wilks Studio at Music Hall, and Washington Park, where an outdoor Opera in the Park concert is presented annually. This range of venues enables the company to perform operas intended for smaller spaces than the grandeur of Music Hall, including Baroque and chamber pieces.


Cincinnati Opera remains committed to outstanding productions of the great works of Verdi, Mozart, Wagner, Puccini, Bizet, Strauss, and other masters—alongside artistic exploration. Recent new productions of masterpieces including Tosca and Turandot earned wide acclaim. In the past several years, the company has also presented an increasing number of new and lesser known titles. These have included world premieres of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star in 2015 and Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers in 2016, which received rave reviews in the national media. These two operas were originally workshopped at Opera Fusion: New Works, the company’s groundbreaking collaboration with the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). In 2018 Cincinnati Opera presented the United States premiere of Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera, based on Pink Floyd’s legendary album, becoming the highest-grossing production in the company’s history. Older but lesser known gems have included Glass’s Galileo Galilei and Cavalli’s La Calisto.


Cincinnati Opera’s 2019 season illustrates its diversity of programming. It will present five works in June and July. Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess will be presented in Music Hall. Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos will be presented in the Corbett Theater and Blind Injustice, a new work that tells the stories of several wrongfully convicted persons exonerated through the work of the Ohio Innocence Project, will be presented in the Wilks Studio. In 2020 Cincinnati Opera will produce the world premiere of Castor and Patience by composer Gregory Spears and librettist Tracy K. Smith, the Pulitzer Prize-winning United States Poet Laureate. As part of a company initiative to showcase diverse stories and artists, the second world premiere will be Fierce, which tells stories inspired by the lives of the teenage girls who helped create the opera. Rounding out the 100th anniversary season will be Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Dvořák’s Rusalka, and Verdi’s Aida performed on the grand stage at Music Hall.


Cincinnati Opera has an extraordinary group of producing partners. In addition to having the world-class Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in the pit from its very first season, it draws dancers from Cincinnati Ballet and singers from CCM. Cincinnati Opera also collaborates with various local arts organizations, colleges, and universities. These relationships help position Cincinnati Opera to produce the widest range of repertoire at an extraordinary level of quality.


With a mission to enrich and connect its community through diverse opera experiences, Cincinnati Opera values excellence, fiscal responsibility, research and development, inclusion and education, tradition, and artistic exploration. Two years ago, the company adopted “The 2021 Vision for Cincinnati Opera.” Its five strategic priorities included: Connect with Our Community, Present Exciting Repertoire, Be Inclusive, Grow Our Audience, and Tell Our Story.


Since the early 1990s, Cincinnati Opera has been a leader in recognizing the importance of a diversified board, staff, volunteer base, audience, and artist roster. In reflecting the shared goals of its funding partner, ArtsWave, Cincinnati Opera seeks to promote cross-cultural understanding by increasing the availability and accessibility of arts experiences that include and represent all races and ethnicities. To this end, Cincinnati Opera has become an industry leader in community outreach, with its annual Opera Goes to Church and Opera Goes to Temple concert series, created in 2006, and The Opera Express, a mobile opera theater-on-wheels offering free performances. The company has been recognized for its efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion by the Cincinnati NAACP and OPERA America.


Cincinnati Opera’s current leader is General Director and CEO Patricia K. Beggs, who is retiring after an illustrious 35-year career with the company. Supported by inspirational Artistic Director Evans Mirageas, who joined Cincinnati Opera in 2005, the General Director and CEO oversees a dynamic senior leadership team that includes the Managing Director & Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Advancement Officer, Director of Production, and Chief Financial Officer. The company has a 32-member artistic, production, and administrative team that grows to approximately 250 employees during the summer season. The company is governed by a 74-member board of trustees and a 27-member executive committee. Cincinnati Opera is supported by a long-standing and active Opera Guild and a young professionals organization known as Center Stage Board Associates. Cincinnati Opera’s financial strength and track record is unique in the opera industry. With an endowment that exceeds $30 million, Cincinnati Opera has achieved an operating surplus in 31 of the last 32 years. Its operating budget is $8.5 million for fiscal year 2019 and will be $9.8 million for fiscal year 2020.




Founded in 1788, Cincinnati is an energized and thriving city with a host of business and cultural organizations that have provided extensive contributions to the region and the country. In addition to Cincinnati Opera, major cultural institutions and attractions include the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet, and Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Stellar museums such as Cincinnati Art Museum, Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati Museum Center, and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center are complemented by award-winning theaters like Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. Additionally, Cincinnati arts organizations receive substantial financial support from ArtsWave, the nation’s first and largest community campaign for the arts.


Cincinnati has deep history with many longstanding families and businesses. It is home to the headquarters of major companies, including Procter & Gamble, The Kroger Co., Macy’s, Fifth Third Bank, Western & Southern Financial Group, GE Aviation, Cintas, and American Financial Group. Notable nearby educational institutions include the internationally renowned University of Cincinnati and CCM, Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, and many others that contribute to a vibrant economy and connected community.


With a metropolitan population of 2.1 million, Cincinnati ranked in the top 10 best affordable places to live by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to the many cultural and recreational opportunities offered, Cincinnati residents can also enjoy the city’s many national sports teams, including the NFL Cincinnati Bengals, MLB Cincinnati Reds, and the new MLS team FC Cincinnati.



Position Summary

The General Director & CEO will provide inspirational leadership as a national champion for opera, the company, and the community. With a focus on defining, developing, and implementing a strategic vision and priorities that advance the mission and goals of the company, the General Director & CEO will inspire community engagement, board involvement, and team alignment. Ensuring effective fund development and earned revenue outcomes, the individual holding this important role will continue the long tradition of balancing artistic vibrancy with fiscal responsibility. The General Director & CEO will be at the forefront of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that are grounded in partnerships and centered on access for all. The General Director & CEO will report to the President of the Board Trustees while the Artistic Director and executive leadership team will report to the General Director & CEO.



Roles and Responsibilities

Strategic Vision and Leadership

  • Continue Cincinnati Opera’s strategic planning and community engagement process to provide a clear path into its second century of artistic vitality and community engagement.
  • Collaborate with the Artistic Director to inspire innovative programming that enhances Cincinnati Opera’s brand and delivers significant artistic and social outcomes while balancing traditional perspectives and artistic exploration.
  • Partner with local, national, and international peer organizations that are at the forefront of meaningful storytelling, artistic creativity, and community relevance.


Fundraising, Friendraising, and Community Engagement

  • Perpetuate the company’s breadth of connections and depth of relationships that result in greater visibility and ongoing sustainability.
  • Formulate initiatives that inspire annual, capital, planned giving, and endowment support from a diverse array of individuals.
  • Encourage corporate sponsorships, foundation support, government grants, and special campaign activities that maintain Cincinnati Opera as a leading community resource.
  • Create and maintain strong ties with community decision makers, government leaders, educators, and the arts community to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • Advocate for the arts and arts education.


Fiscal Responsibility

  • Ensure effective short- and long-term financial sustainability.
  • Take accountability for the achievement of financial operating results and growth as well as the utilization of endowment and other capital resources.
  • Deliver succinct, timely, and relevant information to the board so it can fulfill its responsibilities in setting policies and evaluating key performance indicators.


Collaborative Culture

  • Recruit, mentor, and guide a diverse team of artistic, production, and administrative professionals to deliver an extraordinary experience at Cincinnati Opera.
  • Partner with the staff, board of trustees, Opera Guild, Center Stage Board Associates, and many other volunteers to achieve optimum interaction with the company and community.
  • Strategize opportunities for board prospect identification, cultivation, and recruitment.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Empower employees to maintain a culture where diversity, equity, and inclusion are celebrated in achieving company goals and community impacts.
  • Lead efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion as a key element to programmatic integration, audience development, workforce hiring, board participation, vendor engagement, intergenerational learning, and cultural understanding.
  • Promote access to meaningful arts experiences, respectful interactions, and inspirational opportunities for all youth in the region, particularly those who are underserved.


Traits and Characteristics

The General Director & CEO will be a personable and action-oriented leader with a deep respect for Cincinnati Opera’s values of tradition, innovation, diversity, and collaboration. The General Director & CEO will be outgoing yet grounded, conveying self-confidence without self-importance. A perceptive listener with a harmonious nature that embodies altruism and idealism, the General Director & CEO will be accessible and adaptable and demonstrate grace and humility. This individual will exude ideas, optimism, and resilience and celebrate camaraderie and humor. The General Director & CEO will also possess exemplary professional and personal integrity. A visible, collaborative, and transparent leader who is receptive to new ideas, the General Director & CEO will value artistic creativity, educational vibrancy, and social impact as a noteworthy national advocate for opera.


Other key competencies include:


  • Diplomacy and Teamwork – The capacity to deeply respect others, treat them fairly regardless of personal biases or beliefs, and maintain positive and productive relationships.
  • Leadership, Decision Making, and Resiliency – The clarity to prioritize strategic initiatives, create a sense of unified direction, and respond to the active participation of a variety of internal and external stakeholders.
  • Customer and Community Focus – The dexterity to build rapport and effectively listen and communicate to a wide array of opinions focused on the common good.
  • Personal and Professional Accountability – The credibility to meet the highest ethical standards in establishing relevant, realistic, and attainable artistic and financial goals.




A bachelor’s degree is required and an advanced degree with at least eight years of senior management experience in the performing arts, creative industries, entrepreneurial organizations, educational institutions, or related fields is preferred. Qualified applicants will be visible community leaders who have a passion for opera and experience in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Demonstrable success in mobilizing philanthropic resources, galvanizing public support, maximizing earned revenues, and achieving financial results is required. A track record of working collectively with a variety of diverse stakeholders is necessary.



Compensation and Benefits

Cincinnati Opera offers very competitive compensation and a benefits package that includes generous paid time off and medical, dental, vision, and life insurances. Retirement benefits include a 403(b) plan where Cincinnati Opera matches up to three percent of compensation. Quality of life is a cornerstone of Cincinnati with ample opportunities to explore a wide array of community and cultural activities.



Applications and Inquiries

Please submit a cover letter and resume highlighting relevant and demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred) to:


Dr. Bruce D. Thibodeau

President, Arts Consulting Group

292 Newbury Street, Suite 315

Boston, MA 02115-2801

Tel       (888) 234.4236 Ext. 201



Cincinnati Opera is an equal opportunity employer and strongly committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment where a variety of backgrounds, cultures, orientations, ideas, and talents can flourish.

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