Saluting Speight Through Opera

August 7, 2014 5:10 PM

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Saluting Speight Through Opera

The curtain is falling on Speight Jenkins' 30-year tenure as General Director of the Seattle Opera. He is not just one of the giants of the opera world -- Evans Mirages, artistic director of Cincinnati Opera, has called him "one of the finest opera impresarios on the planet," for example -- he is also a consummate gentleman, a model of erudition (he has forgotten more about opera than most people know), and a champion of excellence and fiscal probity. I also count him as a mentor, and am proud of the relationship that we forged during the course of bringing Amelia, the opera that he commissioned me to compose for his company, from a handful of ideas (in my earliest pitches to him "a surreal pageant about the notion of flight as metaphor for the human condition") to the stage.

"I'm writing to you," wrote Speight to me in November 2003, "to find out if A) you are interested in writing an opera for Seattle; and B) what your ideas for such an opera might be. My first interest is in the music; the crucial factor in any opera is the music."

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