Washington National Opera’s Executive Director to Step Down

By Katharine Baran

Michael L. Mael, Washington National Opera’s Executive Director is stepping down from the leadership position starting on July 1, 2017. He has held that same position since 2011.

Mael started out at the company as Chief Financial and Chief Operating Officer with responsibility for all financial and day-to-day operations of the company. Three years later he became WNO’s Executive Director.

Per a press release, Mael’s time with WNO saw him help the company become financially stable by coming up with four consecutive balanced budgets, after over a decade of losses. Another staple of his time there was his effective efforts to affiliate with the Kennedy Center in 2011, which ultimately gave the organization long-term stability.

In addition to those two achievements, Mr. Mael helped the company grow and form the American Opera Initiative, which has held twelve events since 2012. He’s also launched the “Opera in the Outfield,” which is a signature event at WNO. The event brings in roughly 10,000 people that take part in simulcasting WNO’s productions at Nationals Park every season.

Mael’s strong collaboration with WNO’s Artistic Director, Francesca Zambello resulted in WNO’s “Ring Cycle” in 2016 and brought a new artistic direction to the company. Together the pair has also increased WNO’s commitment to the mentorship programs for young artists, bringing “The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists Program” to life.

The work that Mr. Mael has done at WNO doesn’t stop there. He also worked closely with WNO’s board to come up with and implement the organization’s strategic plan. And last but least, he worked closely with expanding community involvement by commissioning local artists to perform.