Women are ruling. Yesterday the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas’s Women of Distinction saluted local women. Today Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s Celebrating Women Luncheon will raise funds and attention for a predominantly female disease — breast cancer.
Now The Dallas Opera has just broken news that it has received a generous gift to provide funding for a “much-anticipated international institute for women opera conductors,” thanks to opera-supporters Linda and Mitch Hart.
Named “The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera,” the program is the first of its kind “to support the career aspirations and advancement of women conductors in the field, while addressing the various problems resulting from deep-seated gender stereotypes at the top of the profession.”
Yes, even the conducting platform is a big step for women in the world of conducting. According to The Dallas Opera, “Although ‘Level One’ opera companies in North America (as defined by OPERA America) produce approximately a hundred different opera productions each year, women conductors will stand at the podium for only around 5% of the total number of productions during the 2015-2016 Season.”
The inaugural Institute will take place at the Winspear from Saturday, November 28 through Sunday, December 6. Six institute fellows, plus four additional American observers, chosen for the program have been “selected from more than a hundred qualified applicants originating in 27 countries around the globe.”
The first group of institute fellows will be: Jennifer Condon of Australia/Germany, Jessica Gethin of Australia, Natalie Murray Beale of the United Kingdom, Stephanie Rhodes of the U.S., Anna Skryleva of Russia/Germany and Lidiya Yankovskaya of the U.S.
The American observers will be: Arianne Abela, Luçik Aprahämian, Avlana Eisenberg and Co Boi Nguyen.
On Saturday, December 5, a concert that will be open to the public will take place at the Winspear allowing people “to experience these artists at work.”
The new program is the brainchild of DO General Director/CEO Keith Cerny, who “is keen to develop a national ‘center for excellence’ for women conductors, hosted by The Dallas Opera, as well as an ongoing support network consisting of peer-to-peer discussions, experienced mentoring, regular career consultations on specific media and management issues, and steps to encourage other music organizations to develop solutions that address the ongoing gender imbalance.”
According to Keith, “Linda and Mitch Hart have given generously, time and again, during the five years of my tenure. Their operational support underwrites the season opening night performance each year and their names will appear on the west wall of the Winspear Opera House lobby among an elite group of 21st century major endowment and special gifts.
“Yet it is readily apparent to me that this particular project is an especially meaningful one for Linda and Mitch. They understood immediately the importance of this initiative and its possible impact on future generations of opera goers, and we are so proud that they have elected to demonstrate their belief in this untested program in such a tangible way.”
Pat on the back for The Dallas Opera for once again expanding its influence within the world of opera and creating innovative programs. and thank you notes should be sent to Linda and Mitch.