The positive financial results of the past season can be credited to changes such as the company’s increasing emphasis on innovation, efficiency, and partnership, growth in Seattle Opera’s capacity for fundraising, and the doubling in scale of its education and community engagement programs and the number of people these programs serve (53,846 people in 2012/13, up from 22,147 in 2011/12). But the company has also made sacrifices: it has reduced numbers of productions and performances, implemented salary cuts, furloughs, and fee reductions, eliminated staff positions, and put its much-lauded Young Artists Program on hiatus. As Seattle Opera prepares for a smooth leadership transition in 2014, from outgoing General Director Speight Jenkins to the incoming Aidan Lang, the company will continue to pursue sustainability so that a healthy Seattle Opera, now entering its second half-century, continues to benefit the community with productions like the recent Ring cycle, a resounding artistic and financial success.
General Director Speight Jenkins announced the 12/13 Artists of the Year. “The choice of Nuccia Focile delights me not only because of her bravura performance as the sole character in the Poulenc opera, but also because she has created so many remarkable characters at Seattle Opera over the years,” he said. “She is a rare artist.” Focile made her Seattle Opera debut in 2002, as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. She has returned to the company as Mimì, Iphigénie in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, Nedda, and Violetta.
Elise Bakketun, photo
“Asher Fisch has given us so many great performances,” Jenkins continued. “It is remarkable that the public saluted his first performance in the Italian repertory in Seattle, which is a great testimonial to his expertise as a conductor.” Fisch’s leadership of the musical forces in this summer’s Ring earned him rock-star ovations and rave reviews. For Seattle Opera, Fisch has conducted Parsifal, Lohengrin, Der Fliegende Holländer, Tristan und Isolde, Turandot, Fidelio and the Ring. He also won Seattle Opera’s Artist of the Year Award in 2006, for conducting Der Rosenkavalier.
In 1991, Seattle Opera’s Artist of the Year award was created to honor the individual singer, conductor, director, or designer who had made the most significant contribution to the success of the season. At the conclusion of the 2003/04 season, Seattle Opera began honoring two Artists of the Year for each season: one a conductor, director, or designer; the other a singer. Participating in the selection process of Seattle Opera’s Artists of the Year are members of Seattle Opera’s Board of Trustees, Annual Fund donors of $75 and more, and staff, as well as selected members of the local press. This is the company’s twenty-fourth annual selection of Artist of the Year; listen to musical highlights of every Artist of the Year HERE.
Photo of William T. Weyerhaeuser by Alan Alabastro