Fort Worth Opera Terminates 16-Year Relationship With General Director

By David Salazar

The Fort Worth Opera and general director Darren K. Woods have parted ways.

The event, which was reported by the Star Telegram on Monday, marks the end of a 16-year relationship between the general director and the company.

“After several months of … discussing our future, we felt that it would be best if Fort Worth Opera had a change at the general director position,” board chairman Mike Martinez stated regarding the decision. He added that the company is looking for someone to “focus more on business and management … to be creative with the fundraising and development aspect,” before noting that Woods was simply not helping in those respects.

Woods reportedly felt that the company was moving in a different artistic direction and that he would be spending more time with the Seagle Music Colony in New York where he serves as artistic director and new music specialist.

Woods was known for bringing new operas throughout his tenure. Among the works that arrived at Fort Worth were “Silent Night,” “Glory Denied,” “Angels in America” and “JFK.”

The company is reportedly looking to increase the number of productions and is prepping for major fundraising to back up that objective. The company is coming off a massive fundraising effort last summer when it managed to obtain $500,000 in just three months.

Below is the Fort Worth Opera board’s official statement on the dismissal:

Fort Worth has had the enviable opportunity to reinvigorate the genre of opera thanks to the energy and artistic vision of Darren K. Woods. Borrowing a line from Puccini’s Tosca, Darren’s passion has taught us to live for art and to live for love.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are grateful for his 16 years of dedicated service. He has left his mark not just on the art of opera itself, but in the hearts and souls of our community.

The new economic times within which we find ourselves, present unique challenges that call for a fresh perspective and an innovative approach to an aging business model. After months of discussion, the Board of Directors has decided the best thing for all parties is to build on the artistic foundation we have forged together while allowing each of us to grow and meet new challenges.

A national search process will start shortly to find a new General Director who can build on Darren’s artistic vision while bringing new models to create sustainable financial support for the arts.

“As Georgia O’Keefe once said, ‘To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage,” noted Nelson E. Claytor, Ph.D., President of the Fort Worth Opera’s Board of Directors. “We have a better world and a better community because of Darren’s courage in bringing Angels in America and Silent Night to Fort Worth, and in creating JFK in Fort Worth. Rest assured that Fort Worth Opera will move forward courageously with a commitment to this magnificent art form that is as passionate as ever.”

Jill Fischer, Chairman Emeritus, added, “Fort Worth and Darren K. Woods were made for each other — they both combine a love for the arts with a determination to do things their own way. I thank Darren for the passion and energy he brought to the Fort Worth Opera for the past 16 years. We both may be turning a page, but our stories will be forever intertwined. Thank you, Darren.”