Opera news

Fort Worth Opera general director resigns after 2 seasons

Fort Worth Opera general director resigns after 2 seasons

FWO’s Artistic Director Joe Illick and FWO’s General Director Tuomas Hiltunen
Former Fort Worth Opera General Director Tuomas Hiltunen (right) with Artistic Director Joe Illick. Photo by Style FW/Rachel Delira

Tuomas Hiltunen has resigned as general director of Fort Worth Opera after two seasons of leadership, the company announced in a late-night press release January 24.

Hiltunen was appointed in July 2017, five months after longtime FWO general director Darren Woods was fired.

Hiltunen split leadership duties with Joe Illick, who was hired as artistic director at the same time. An FWO spokesman confirmed to CultureMap on January 25 that Illick will stay on as artistic director.

The search for a new general director will begin immediately, the spokesman said. Until a successor is found, Nelson E. Claytor, FWO chairman of the Board of Trustees, will assume the role and duties of the position.

In the release, the company praised Hiltunen for "establishing security and growth by streamlining expenditures, reducing administrative costs and overhead, and maintaining a balanced operating budget" during his short tenure. He was, they say, instrumental in founding their Relaxed Performances program, which "created a welcoming opera environment for audience members with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and learning disabilities." The initiative will continue, they say.

“Fort Worth Opera is grateful for Tuomas’ leadership over the past two seasons and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” Claytor said in a prepared statement. “As we move forward, our top priority is, and always has been, ensuring that the financial health of the company is secure for decades to come.”

Hiltunen's resignation comes less than three months before the opera's 2020 festival, taking place April 17-May 3. It will feature performances of Puccini's La Bohème, Strauss' Revenge of the Bat (Die Fledermaus), and the world premiere of Hector Armienta’s Zorro.

Next season will be Fort Worth Opera's 75th anniversary; it is the oldest continually operating opera company in Texas.