Toledo Opera Appoints James M. Norman & Kevin Bylsma as New Leaders

By Afton Wooten

James M. Norman and Kevin Bylsma have been appointed as the new leadership of Toledo Opera upon the retirement of current Executive Director Suzanne Rorick.

As of May 31, 2024, Norman will serve as the General Director and Bylsma will serve as the Artistic Director. Norman and Bylsma bring a combined 45 years of experience with Toledo Opera as a company. This announcement comes following a Toledo Opera Board-led interview process.

Norman began his relationship with Toledo Opera in 1981 as a freshman at the University of Toledo, singing in the chorus of “Aida.” He sang with the company for two seasons and returned to the chorus in 1987 at the request of Maestro James Meena, where he continued performing in both chorus and comprimari roles for over a decade. In 2011, Norman was brought on staff as Production Manager and in 2016 he was appointed Director of Production. In the fall of 2019, Norman was named as Co-Artistic Director (in addition to Director of Production) upon the departure of James Meena. Norman has since collaborated with Bylsma and Rorick to select and cast Toledo Opera productions.

Bylsma’s background in opera, specifically, with Bowling Green State University as an Associate Teaching Professor of Opera and Detroit Opera (formerly Michigan Opera Theatre,) led to his appointment as the Head of Music Preparation and Musical Assistant to Meena. Since 2011, he has served as the principal rehearsal pianist for all mainstage operas, chorus master, and as Co-Artistic Director. He says in a press release, “I am honored and thrilled to be named Artistic Director of Toledo Opera. Not only is it my goal to maintain the high artistic level that is the hallmark of Toledo Opera productions, but also to introduce even more Toledoans to the passion and joy that is opera!”