Lyric Opera appoints Renée Fleming’s press rep as director of public relations

December 10, 2011

Alexandra Day

The Lyric Opera of Chicago announced late Friday that Alexandra Day has been appointed to the newly created position of director of public relations. Day currently serves as personal manager and press representative for Renée Fleming, who was appointed as the company’s creative consultant a year ago.

The press release, sent out at 4:48 p.m., says that Day will report to Susan Mathieson Mayer, Lyric’s director of communications, and will work with Mathieson Mayer and director of marketing Philip Koester to “plan and execute a wide variety of public relations and marketing projects aimed at expanding Lyric’s profile in the local, national, and international media.”

Day will also “manage and promote numerous special projects to broaden the visibility of Lyric Opera . . . cultivate partnerships with cultural and civic organizations in Chicago” and “serve as a key liaison to Fleming, working to promote audience-development programs supported by Lyric as part of the Renée Fleming Initiative.”

“We’re delighted to have Alex Day join our team,” said Mathieson Mayer in a released statement. “We have worked together closely to launch and implement the Renée Fleming Initiative; her experience and energy will be a tremendous asset in fostering Lyric’s continued growth and new endeavors.”

While the hiring of Day clearly consolidates Fleming’s position within the company’s infrastructure as creative consultant, the appointment of the friend and manager of an actively performing high-profile singer raises potentially troubling conflict-of-interest issues.

Will Day be an honest broker for all of the press or play favorites, limiting access to select outlets, as was the case with Fleming’s master class at the Merit School last month?  Will she work for the greater good of the Lyric Opera as an institution and put that above her prior managerial interest for one individual artist? Where will her loyalties lie if something is good for Fleming but bad for Lyric Opera and vice versa?

The release did not indicate whether Day would continue to serve as Fleming’s manager in addition to her new position at the Lyric Opera. There was no response to questions on the appointment submitted to general director Anthony Freud through the Lyric press office.

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