Obituary: Michigan Opera Theatre Co-Founder Karen VanderKloot DiChiera Dies

By David Salazar
(Image Courtesy of Michigan Opera Theater)

Michigan Opera Theatre has announced the passing of co-founder and educator Karen VanderKloot DiChiera at age 80.

DiChiera, who co-founded Michigan Opera Theatre, worked for the organization as Art Educator, created the MOT Community Programs Department, and was Community Composer. She also trained young musicians.

DiChiera studied composition in 1960 and graduated with honors from Oakland University before helping lay the groundwork for the creation of Michigan Opera Theatre.

She also held composer positions in Birmingham public schools and also worked with such organizations as Opera Pacific and Dayton Opera, while participating in the original educational working group for Opera America.

Other exploits include co-authoring “Working Ideas,” a book on running opera educational programs. She composed several children’s operas together with Joan Hill.

“We are honored to continue to build on his accomplishments in the lives of so many people, especially children, and for his leadership in the fields of arts education with the participation of many young people,” said Andrea Scobie, MOT director of education, in a press statement.

During her professional life, Karen received numerous accolades, including the Variety Club of Detroit Heart Award, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Humanitarian Award, the Michigan Governor’s Award for Arts Education, and many more.