WNO chief to exit in July

Tue May 02, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Michael Mael. Photo: Scott Suchman

Washington National Opera announced today that Michael L. Mael will step down as executive director on July 1. 

Mael was named to the position in 2011, after three years as chief financial and chief operating officer. That was a desperate year for Washington’s leading opera company, which had been losing money for a decade and was on the brink of bankruptcy. At the time Mael was instrumental in negotiating the absorption of WNO into the Kennedy Center.

That year also marked the exit of Plácido Domingo, who had served as WNO’s general director. The company essentially split Domingo’s position, naming Francesca Zambello as artistic advisor and Mael as executive director. After one year, in 2012, Zambello assumed the title of artistic director, a position she continues to hold.

“This is a bittersweet time for me, as I look ahead to what’s next in my career,” said Mael in a company press release. “I’m immensely proud of the work we’ve accomplished at WNO—from both an artistic and administrative standpoint—and could not have asked for better partners than Francesca Zambello, our board, and my colleagues both at WNO and the Center.

“But after nearly a decade, it’s time for me to do something different. I leave with confidence that WNO’s future is bright.”

The WNO board plans to launch a search committee soon to begin the process of selecting a successor.

Washington National Opera opens its production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly Saturday night.


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