Former marketing chief returns to Sarasota Opera to take top job

September 20, 2012

Richard Russell. Photo: Jeff Reeder

Sarasota Opera has lost no time naming a new boss.

Richard Russell, former director of marketing at Sarasota Opera, will return as the company’s executive director on November 1. He will succeed Susan Danis, who left Sarasota to become general director of Florida Grand Opera, an announcement made just three weeks ago.

“I’m thrilled to be asked to be Sarasota Opera’s next executive director,” Russell said Wednesday. “It’s particularly moving for me to return to this company, where I started my professional career as an apprentice artist 23 years ago.”

“I have known Richard for many years, as a musician and administrator,” said artistic director Victor DeRenzi.  “Richard understands and believes in Sarasota Opera’s mission. He is respected by our staff, patrons and supporters who know him.  Richard’s combination of artistic and business knowledge as well as his integrity will be invaluable to Sarasota Opera and our community.”

Russell served as Sarasota Opera’s director of marketing from 2005-2010. For the past three seasons he has served as general director of Opera New Jersey.

“Richard Russell is well known and respected in Sarasota and is thoroughly knowledgeable about the operations of Sarasota Opera,” said Donald Worthington, chairman of the board of Sarasota Opera.  “His familiarity with Sarasota Opera will enable him to perform his duties as executive director without a lengthy learning process.  We are indeed pleased and excited to welcome Richard and his wife Cynthia back to the fold and we look forward to his bold leadership.”

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