Dr. Jill Anderson, founder of Pacific Repertory Opera, announced she has decided to step down as General Director of the company as of June 1, 2008. She made the announcement at a private dinner party for top donors held Sunday, November 18 at the home of Bob and Duejean Garrett.
“It’s been a fulfilling and challenging role to establish an opera company here on the Central Coast, and to have produced so many wonderful operas over the past two decades,” said Dr. Anderson. “But when I step down next June, I will have been at the helm for twenty-three years. It’s time for me to take a break, and time for the company to have fresh vision.” She added that she will continue her active teaching career, both at Cuesta College and privately.
Anderson added that she was especially pleased to leave PRO in such sound financial condition. “Thanks to our 20-20 Vision campaign, launched in honor of our 20th anniversary, PRO now has an endowment of nearly $200,000, which helps insure the future of the organization,” she said.
The company will continue to operate with strong day-to-day leadership under Mikele Hushing-Kline, who will be staying on as Managing Director. Hushing-Kline was Administrative Director for Pacific Repertory Opera during her first three years with the company, and in the past year has taken on more management responsibilities.
Anderson announced that the PRO Board of Directors has identified a new Artistic Director for the organization. Robert Ashens, formerly General Director of the Eugene Opera in Oregon, will assume full artistic control over all aspects of opera productions, beginning in June 2008. Ashens is an accomplished conductor, pianist and vocal coach. He will be introduced to PRO supporters at the annual Opera Ball on January 20, 2008 at the Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo.
Two future PRO productions have already been planned and cast by Anderson. These include Carmen, which Anderson will conduct at the PAC, April 4 and 5, 2008, and The Marriage of Figaro, which Ashens will direct at the PAC, October 31 and November 1, 2008. Ashens’ first complete production, which has yet been selected, will be the spring opera in March of 2009.
“I’m thrilled to leave PRO in the hands of such a distinguished colleague,” said Dr. Anderson. “I’ve known Robert for the past five years through auditions in San Francisco, and have great respect for him. I know our audiences and artists will be impressed with his work and that he will help take PRO to the next level.”
Pacific Repertory Opera was founded by Jill Anderson and the late Jean Cook in 1985 and began producing fully-staged operas in 1987. PRO has offered more than forty productions to local audiences over the past twenty years.