Dear Colleagues, Friends and Family,

After 21 years as General and Artistic Director, I have decided to make the 2015 season my last one with the Chautauqua Opera Company.

This decision comes with mixed emotions. The CHQ community has been my second home and the opera company has been the focus of my creative and personal life for more than half my professional career so far. But the timing is right for me to turn my attention from administration to devoting more of my time to directing and teaching and to spending more time with my partner, family and friends.

I am enormously proud of our opera company - the incredibly high quality of work we have produced on tight budgets; our amazing and committed staff, our sensational guest artists, and the many young singers who have lent their talents to our community. I am thrilled by the range of repertory that we have been able to produce for an audience that remains supportive and enthusiastic.

My departure is many months off, so I am very much looking forward to spending this summer with my dedicated staff, including our music administrator and chorus master, the brilliant Carol Rausch, and Michael Baumgarten, our resourceful resident lighting designer and production manager who have both been with me since I started, and who continue to bring their unflagging energy and expertise to opera at CHQ.

I am also looking forward to another summer of being inspired and nurtured by the talents and artistic output of my colleagues in both symphonies, our superb theater company, the excellent ballet, our adventurous art department, and the young singers of the voice program. And I am really anticipating being back with the Opera Guild and the rest of the CHQ community which continue to give us all such input, support, and affection.

My contract ends officially at the end of 2015. I will spend the fall helping to effect a smooth transition for the opera company. But before that, we will be producing new productions of Verdi’s exciting Macbeth and Tchaikovsky’s stunning Eugene Onegin and welcoming our talented crop of 2015 Young Artists.

Opera has been an important part of the CHQ community for 87 years. I can’t wait to see what the next years will bring - more thrilling productions and the continued high-level training of young vocal talent - the two things that Chautauqua Opera does best!

Sincerely,

Jay Lesenger

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