Boston Lyric Opera General & Artistic Director Steps Down

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Liza Voll)

The Boston Lyric Opera has announced that General and Artistic Director Esther Nelson has decided to step down after 12 years.

Nelson was well known for bringing the regional company to national and international prominence with a mix of bold productions mounted in traditional theaters and distinctive locations around the city. She was also the first person to hold the company’s top administrative and artistic titles simultaneously.

During her tenure with the BLO, Nelson grew the company’s artistic output by adding a fourth live performance to BLO’s seasons and envisioned the extra production to highlight contemporary opera works by rising and established composers. She also strengthened and restructured BLO’s artistic department and hired recognized stage designer John Conklin as Artistic Advisor.

During her tenure, Nelson saw such new works premiere including Tod Machover’s “Schoenberg in Hollywood,” James MacMillan’s “Clemency,” Mark Campbell, and Julian Grant’s “Burke & Hare,” among others.

The Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) Board of Directors, led by chair Michael J. Puzo said, “Esther Nelson has had such a profound impact on Boston Lyric Opera and the industry in Boston and beyond, it’s hard to imagine the Company without her. Esther’s tenure moved BLO from being a strong regional company into being a leading national and international entity. It’s emblematic of her professionalism and commitment that she has worked carefully with the board and her colleagues to ensure a seamless transition. This moment finds BLO vibrant, artistically strong, and poised to take the next step in defining what a 21st-century opera company looks like.”

With Nelson stepping down the board announced that Chief Operating Officer Bradley Vernatter will serve as BLO’s Acting General & Artistic Director. Vernatter worked closely the past year to develop and implement structural changes, make organizational decisions, and create fresh artistic content.