Detroit Opera Names New President & CEO

By Francisco Salazar

The board and trustees of Detroit Opera have announced that Patty Isacson Sabee will be the organization’s next President and CEO.

Isacson Sabee will begin her new position on Jan. 2, 2024 and will be only the third person to lead Detroit Opera since its founding in 1971 by the late David DiChiera.

She will succeed Wayne S. Brown, who has led the company since 2014 and announced his intention to retire by the end of the 2023–24 season.

In a statement, Board Chairman Ethan Davidson said, “Patty Isacson Sabee is a transformative, collaborative leader with more than 35 years of experience driving excellence at U.S. arts institutions. With proven leadership and entrepreneurial skills, and knowledge and experience in all aspects of arts management, she is the right match for the Detroit Opera, which has become the destination for progressive opera in the United States. We are impressed by her innovative, forward-thinking approach to the arts, which includes leading a pop-culture museum in Seattle and an immersive language museum in Washington, D.C. She has the people skills necessary for successful and collaborative partnership development, individual performance management, and board, staff, musician, volunteer, and community relations. We are excited to have Patty lead Detroit Opera and confident that she will build on our success as a leading producer of opera in America and a premier theater in Detroit.”

Isacson Sabee added, “Detroit Opera is one of America’s great cultural treasure. David DiChiera and Wayne Brown have been inspirational leaders in stewarding this company, and I look forward to preserving their important partnerships while building new connections that will advance Detroit Opera’s mission and deepen its impact. I also look forward to collaborating with Yuval Sharon, Christine Goerke, Roberto Kalb, and Detroit Opera’s Board, musicians, production and administrative staff in defining an innovative vision for opera and dance for the future. But most important, I look forward to engaging with the city of Detroit and the people who call it home. This city’s history and creative energy inspires and informs my path, and I am honored to lead the company at this exciting time.”

Isacson Sabee is currently Executive Director of Planet Word, an immersive language experience in Washington, D.C. that opened in October 2020 and celebrates the fun, beauty, and power of words, language, and reading. At Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), founded in 2000 as the Experience Music Project, she served as Director of External Relations and Development before being named CEO and Director. She began her career in arts administration at the Seattle Symphony, where over the course of two decades she held positions in operations, artistic administration, and development before serving as Interim Executive Director.