The Minnesota Opera will have a new president and general director starting in May. And he’s no stranger to Minnesota or the opera company.
Ryan Taylor, currently general director of Arizona Opera, succeeds Nina Archabal, who has served as Minnesota Opera’s interim leader since Nov. 2014.
Along with solid experience off-stage, Taylor spent over a decade as an operatic baritone, performing more than 30 roles. He received some of his training here as part of Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist Program during the 200-01 season. He returned in 2004 to sing Sharpless in “Madame Butterfly.” He has also performed in concert with the SPCO.
“Minnesota Opera’s remarkable 50-year history of innovation and excellence in opera, education, and longstanding dedication to developing new works make it one of the premier arts organizations in the nation,” Taylor said in a statement. “Having been fortunate enough to receive valuable training from Minnesota Opera at a formative time early in my career, I am especially honored to carry the organization’s remarkable reputation forward.”
Board chair James E. Johnson described Taylor as “an opera artist of the first order, a skilled executive, and a respected leader in our field.”
At Arizona Opera, Taylor is credited with beginning a dramatic turnaround of the organization’s finances, marked by record-breaking success at fundraising. He conceived and implemented Arizona BOLD, a community-based initiative that brings new and classic stories to a larger, more diverse statewide audience. Taylor has been at the Arizona Opera since February 2012, where he was hired as director of artistic administration and rose to director.
He previously held positions at ADA Artist Management in New York, Wolf Trap Opera Company, the Berkshire Opera Company, and Singers Beyond Borders, and he co-founded the Southeastern Festival of Song.
Fingers crossed that Taylor will bring stability to Minnesota Opera’s leadership, which has seen too many chiefs in the past few years. Archabal stepped in when Kevin Ramach resigned after 2½ years in the role. Ramach’s predecessor, Allan Naplan, lasted a year in the job before resigning for personal reasons. His predecessor was Kevin Smith, who served the opera company for 30 years, 25 as president and CEO. Smith is now president and CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra.