“Keith has an outstanding track record of success in a number of areas. His background demonstrates that he fully understands, appreciates,
and embraces both the business and artistic demands of a top-notch American opera company.”
—Dr. Kern Wildenthal, former Dallas Opera Board of Directors Chairman
General Director & CEO
Keith Cerny (SUR-nee) officially took charge of the largest opera company in North Texas on May 24, 2010. He is the seventh general director in the illustrious history of the Dallas Opera, succeeding Interim General Director John T. Cody, Jr.
With the opening of an acclaimed new opera house in the heart of Downtown Dallas and the exceptionally well-received world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s landmark new opera, Moby-Dick, the music world has once again been reminded of the Dallas Opera’s important contributions to the classical performing arts and its role in keeping culture “front and center” in the lives of the citizens of North Texas. However, the future success of this company is largely dependent on leadership with sound fiscal and managerial experience and — at the same time — an extraordinary artistic vision for the Dallas Opera.
Taking over leadership of this organization is the new General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, who has enjoyed a diverse and highly successful career in business, arts administration and music performance. Mr. Cerny earned B.A. degrees with highest honors from the University of California at Berkeley in Music and Physics, an M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School, and a Ph.D. in Economic Development Studies/Econometrics from The Open University in the UK. He also completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders-Arts offered by National Arts Strategies and the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Mr. Cerny’s business experience includes three years as Executive Director (COO) and CFO of the San Francisco Opera, the CEO role at sheetmusicplus.com, six years with McKinsey & Company, and a Partner role with Accenture in strategy and business architecture consulting. On the artistic side, he studied opera accompanying on the English National Opera Repetiteur’s Training Course and pursued further musical studies at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA. Mr. Cerny is a regular panel participant and speaker at Opera America conferences and special events, including the National Performing Arts Convention. His past pro bono consulting activities include work for English National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera America, Washington National Opera, Atlanta Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, Los Angeles Opera, and most recently, Houston Grand Opera where he led a multifaceted pro bono initiative on key marketing areas. In 2011, he was elected to the Board of Directors of Opera America, where he also serves as Chair of the Strategy Committee.
Since taking over as General Director & CEO of The Dallas Opera, Mr. Cerny has worked to stabilize the company’s financials, commissioned two major new opera projects, launched the company’s free public simulcast performances, and broadened the company’s repertoire to include more 20th and 21st century works.