Lyric Opera appoints Renée Fleming’s manager as director of public relations

Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 6:28 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Alexandra Day

The Lyric Opera of Chicago announced late Friday that Alexandra Day has been appointed to the newly created position of director of public relations. Day currently serves as personal manager and press representative for Renée Fleming, who was appointed as the company’s creative consultant a year ago.

The press release, sent out at 4:48 p.m., says that Day will report to Susan Mathieson Mayer, Lyric’s director of communications, and will work with Mathieson Mayer and director of marketing Philip Koester to “plan and execute a wide variety of public relations and marketing projects aimed at expanding Lyric’s profile in the local, national, and international media.”

Day will also “manage and promote numerous special projects to broaden the visibility of Lyric Opera . . . cultivate partnerships with cultural and civic organizations in Chicago” and “serve as a key liaison to Fleming, working to promote audience-development programs supported by Lyric as part of the Renée Fleming Initiative.”

“We’re delighted to have Alex Day join our team,” said Mathieson Mayer in a released statement. “We have worked together closely to launch and implement the Renée Fleming Initiative; her experience and energy will be a tremendous asset in fostering Lyric’s continued growth and new endeavors.”

While the hiring of Day clearly consolidates Fleming’s position within the company’s infrastructure as creative consultant, the appointment of the friend and manager of an actively performing high-profile singer raises potentially troubling conflict-of-interest issues.

Will Day be an honest broker for all of the press or play favorites, limiting access to select outlets, as was the case with Fleming’s master class at the Merit School last month? Will she work for the greater good of the Lyric Opera as an institution and put that above her managerial interest in promoting her celebrated star client? And where will her loyalties lie if something is good for Fleming but bad for Lyric Opera and vice versa?

The release did not indicate whether Day would continue to serve as Fleming’s manager in addition to her new position at the Lyric Opera. There was no response to questions on the appointment submitted to general director Anthony Freud through the Lyric press office.

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7 Responses to “Lyric Opera appoints Renée Fleming’s manager as director of public relations”

  1. Posted Dec 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm by LillyPon

    Of course there was no response from Anthony Freud — his position has already been usurped by the appointment of Fleming as creative consultant and by Fleming’s appointment to the Lyric’s Board of Directors, along with Music Director, Andrew Davis. Effectively, that means Fleming & Davis are above Freud and with this new appointment of Day, the most blatant conflict of interest imaginable, his position becomes somewhat mute. Should have stayed where he was instead of coming to the Lyric where he will have no power whatsoever. Lyric’s Board is beginning to act like New York City Opera’s Board, interfering with operations in a negative way.

  2. Posted Dec 11, 2011 at 4:36 am by Chris

    This is the biggest attempt to make a mountain out of an… anthill I’ve seen in a long time.

    Conflict of interest? Her PR rep was hired by Lyric at the same time that she’s associated there and working on the organization’s PR direction? How is this bad? In what future scenario is anything that’s bad for Lyric good for Fleming, it’s powerful creative consultant who has staked her reputation on doing well there?

    Also, I don’t understand how Mr. Freud was usurped when he arrived well after Fleming, who publicly said she was consulted about his appointment in advance of it? It was clear from the start that they’d be sharing power in some regard. How can something you never had be usurped?

  3. Posted Dec 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm by Laura

    I agree with Chris. How can bringing in another talent, such as the elegant Ms. Day, be anything but positive for Lyric? Isn’t it possible that all of these dynamic individuals can work together for the betterment of the company and opera? Not everyone is interested in power solely for the sake of personal advancement and/or financial gain. There is a bigger picture to consider, such as the future of the art form. I think that Lyric Opera is headed for some very exciting years with this team.

  4. Posted Dec 12, 2011 at 9:22 am by Jay

    Your blog post was posted a mere two hours after you received the press release. Did you really expect a return phone call in that short of time?

    This reads more as sour grapes that you weren’t invited to the master class with Fleming and the Merit School.

  5. Posted Dec 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm by FlemingFan

    To LillyPon,

    I hope that you do not work for an opera company or any performing arts organization. Your comments about Anthony Freud being usurped are unfounded and demonstrate your extreme lack of knowledge as to how an opera company is run. He will have no power? How on earth could you know that? Are you at the Lyric’s office? Do you attend Board meetings? It’s astonishing that you have the temerity to make such claims. If you had an inkling of what Ms. Fleming’s schedule looks like, I think you would very quickly realize that she doesn’t even have the time to wield the omnipotent power you seem to think she has in influencing the Lyric and making key decisions. And regarding Mr. Freud “not having any power whatsoever,” if you’ve already attended the Lyric this season, I’m afraid that you’ve already experienced some of the changes he’s implemented, whether you’re aware of it or not.

  6. Posted Dec 14, 2011 at 8:51 am by Frances

    We can only hope that the announcement of Alexandra Day, in Lyric’s newly created position, does not foreshadow the eventual loss of Susan Mathieson-Mayer.

  7. Posted Dec 14, 2011 at 11:03 am by george brown

    This is a mountain out of nothing. Time will tell!