Susan Danis named new chief at Florida Grand Opera

August 30, 2012

Susan Danis

Florida Grand Opera has reached across Alligator Alley to the Gulf Coast for its new leader.

Susan T. Danis, executive director of Sarasota Opera for the past 15 years, has been named the new CEO and general director of Florida Grand Opera. Her appointment will be effective October 9.

Danis sees her main challenges as “getting the company back on firm financial ground and regaining the faith of the donor base in the community.”

She also wants the company to start serving up more adventurous repertoire than has been the case in Miami in recent seasons.

“I think I’m going to be able to pull some things together [for 2013-14] and I’m just really excited about the opportunity,” she said, speaking from her office in downtown Sarasota.

While a regional company with a smaller budget than FGO, Sarasota Opera has earned a national reputation that has made it a destination for opera aficionados beyond the local, well-heeled retirement community. The company has won international acclaim for its ongoing complete Verdi cycle under the fiery, idiomatic direction of artistic director Victor DeRenzi. In 2011, Sarasota Opera launched a new American Classics Series, a project that presents an American opera every season, and the company has also commissioned new operas for its Sarasota Youth Opera performances.

Danis said she would like to bring some of the same sense of adventure and creative programming to Miami, and has already started initial discussions on repertoire for 2013-14 and beyond.

“I look forward to really putting on some spectacular programming and regaining the faith of the audience,” she said. “I’d like to do some things that will differentiate FGO and really make people want to come here and see one of our productions.”

On a personal note, Danis said she is also looking forward to living in a larger metropolitan area again. “I’m a big-city kid at heart,” she said. “After spending the greater part of my adult life in New York and Paris and San Francisco, there’s a certain vibrance about being in a big city with great diversity. Just being in that kind of environment is very exciting to me.”

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