Mitisek to depart Chicago Opera Theater

Sat Feb 04, 2017 at 9:19 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Andreas Mitisek
Andreas Mitisek

In a surprising move in the middle of his most ambitious season to date, Chicago Opera Theater announced Saturday that Andreas Mitisek will leave his post as artistic director of the company at the end of this season. Mitisek had informed the board of his decision not to renew his contract at a meeting earlier in the day.

COT’s current executive director Douglas Clayton will take over as general director in September, the company said. A search will also take place to hire a part-time music director, said Clayton and COT board president Henry Fogel.

As scheduled, Mitisek will conduct the company’s final two season productions: the world premiere of Stewart Copeland’s The Invention of Morel and Philip Glass’s The Perfect American. He will also continue to have a relationship with COT in 2018 and beyond, the company said.

“After 5 wonderful years at COT, I have decided to move on at the end of my contract and pursue some artistic projects I have been dreaming about for a long time,” said Mitisek in a statement released by the company. “Since I joined COT as General Director in 2012, we have achieved a lot together. We eliminated all outstanding debt, created a cash reserve of more than $850,000 and received the largest gift in COT’s history last year. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to lead this wonderful company in a city I love, and I look forward to a continued relationship with the company.”

“As I move on to other projects, it is a great sign for COT’s organizational maturity that the company will be led by someone from within the organization,” added Mitisek. “I have worked with Doug Clayton for three years now and I know that he will be an excellent General Director of COT. He has the sensibility, thoughtfulness and capability to lead COT to new heights in the coming years.”

“Doug is a seasoned leader in the nonprofit arts world,” said Fogel in a released statement. “He brings an excellent strategic capability, an understanding of how to support artists in their work, and a commitment to engagement with the people of Chicago. He is dedicated to COT’s success and looks forward to bringing high-quality, innovative opera productions to the city in the years ahead. I would like to add a very deep expression of gratitude and admiration for Andreas, and the remarkable work he has done here. He has helped turn COT around and assure its healthy future, and provided many stimulating productions. I am glad we will continue to work with him in the future.”

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3 Responses to “Mitisek to depart Chicago Opera Theater”

  1. Posted Feb 07, 2017 at 1:34 pm by Richard Tyvolt

    Truly fantastic news for Opera lovers in Chicago. Mitisek may have helped the organization financially with major donations and by reducing productions costs with co-productions through his other company, but he demolished almost every opera he touched. Reworking music/lyrics, twisting the intent of the authors’ work, producing a majority of Operas in English and trying to produce “more of the different” when audiences didn’t want it.

    I have been with the company since the Dickie era and have watched audience size dwindle down dramatically. I believe Andreas has come to realize that Chicago is not as embracing of his work as he had imagined. We can only pray that the production he is slated to direct next season is not his dreadful Death of Klinghoffer he directed at LBO last year. There are rumors he has been considering that Opera for quite some time and it’s time to put that show to rest.

  2. Posted Feb 08, 2017 at 11:15 am by Nick Sands

    You mean we won’t have to sit through another long and rather poor attempt at humor “letter from the dead composer”/give us money speech before each opera? I stopped going over a year ago because of his production choices and rather annoying telemarketing strategies. It’ll be some time before I feel comfortable going back there, but I must confess that I agree with the above comments. If Death of Klinghoffer is the route they are taking, they can consider me gone altogether. Yes, bring back Orfeus or your marvelous Magic Flute you produced somewhere around 2012 or 2013.

  3. Posted Feb 09, 2017 at 12:27 am by Ivana Mavic

    We wish Mr. Clayton the best of luck with the future of COT. Mitisek drove us and many others out a long time ago. NO KLINGHOFFER!!!! Poor taste! We will be sticking with The Lyric and their newly announced seasoned including Jesus Christ Superstar!

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