Chicago Opera Theater Announces New General Director

By David Salazar

Chicago Opera Theater has announced that Lawrence Edelson will be its next General Director.

The announcement culminates a three-month search. He will commence his duties on July 1, 2023, taking over for Interim General Director Meaghan Stainback Smallwood, who will collaborate with Edelson until September 1, 2023. She will then revert to her previous position as Chicago Opera Theater’s Director of Development.

“Chicago Opera Theater is one of the most innovative opera companies in the country, and COT’s commitment to expanding the tradition of opera as a living art form resonates deeply with me,” said Edelson in an official press statement. “I am honored to join this very special company as General Director, and I am particularly excited to relocate to Chicago – a city with a vibrant, diverse, and constantly evolving arts scene. I’ve seen first-hand the commitment and passion of the entire team at COT, and I look forward to partnering with Lidiya Yankovskaya, the staff, and the Board to build upon COT’s extraordinary history and to forge dynamic plans for the future.”

Edelson previously held the position of General and Artistic Director at Opera Saratoga but stepped down back in May 2022. During his tenure with the company, Edelson developed Opera Saratoga to new fiscal and artistic heights that included several American premieres and world premieres. Among the works to debut under his watch are “The Long Walk,” “The Witches of Venice,” “Ellen West,” and “Il Postino,” among others. He also helped the company’s income grow by over 250 percent and increased ticket sales by over 60 percent during his eight-year tenure.

Prior to his time at Saratoga, he started his career at the Glimmerglass Opera before directing productions at Wolf Trap Opera, Minnesota Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Virginia Opera, and Florida Grand Opera. He is also the founder of American Lyric Theater where he also created the Composer Librettist Development Program.