Kern Wildenthal General Director & CEO
Ian Derrer has a degree in voice performance from Southern Methodist University. As an undergraduate, he interned at The Dallas Opera as an assistant to legendary stage director John Copley for the 1995-96 Season production of Richard Strauss’ Elektra. Derrer went on to earn additional degrees in opera production and performing arts management from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and Brooklyn College.
He knows the opera world, inside out, having worked professionally as a singer, assistant stage manager, stage manager, and director in influential regional and national companies (Santa Fe Opera, The Atlanta Opera, Opera Carolina, Opera Pacific, and Washington National Opera) and obtaining international experience at the Institute of Vocal Arts in Chiari, Italy, before stepping up to his first administrative position at New York City Opera in 2004.
In two short years, Chicago came calling and Derrer accepted a position as rehearsal administrator for Lyric Opera. During his eight years with that renowned company, Ian rose through the ranks to serve as director of production and head of the rehearsal department before being invited to accept the position of artistic administrator for The Dallas Opera in the summer of 2014.
Mr. Derrer worked closely with then-General Director and CEO Keith Cerny and Maestro Villaume (the Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director) on casting, production and programming details; overseeing budgets for the artistic staff, principal artists, orchestra and chorus; and acting as the point of contact between TDO and the national unions (AGMA and AFM) on issues related to collective bargaining agreements. Additionally, he served as an important liaison between Artistic and the other departments that constitute the company: Development, Media and PR, Marketing, Production, Education, etc.
“I am personally excited—as are many of us at TDO and in the classical music community—to welcome Ian back to The Dallas Opera to assume this extremely important role,” writes Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume. “Ian’s background and intelligence, his wide range of experience, and his approachable personality make him the perfect leader to capitalize on the success achieved by The Dallas Opera and to guide the company in our next steps.”
Ian Derrer’s effective leadership over the past two seasons earned the notice of America’s most influential opera publication, Opera News magazine, which described him in a September 2017 feature article as a “Creative Force” in the industry.
During his tenure, Kentucky Opera presented a number of noteworthy debuts: Christine Brewer, Stephanie Blythe, Rodell Rosel, Emily Fons, Phyllis Pancella, Will Liverman, Megan Marino, John Irvin, Adam Lau, and Dale Travis. Future KO debuts secured by Mr. Derrer include Nicole Cabell, Mario Rojas, Jamez McCorkle, Brandie Sutton, Sean Michael Plumb, Danielle Pastin, Anthony Clark Evans, Mané Galoyan, and David Leigh—as well as conductors David Stern and Roberto Kalb.
Derrer also demonstrated his serious commitment to diversity by hiring women directors to stage all three mainstage productions of Kentucky Opera’s upcoming 2018-2019 Season. By expanding opportunities for young artists during his time as general director, Derrer sparked a notable increase in applications for the Barbara and Halsey Sandford Studio Artist Program. Many of those opportunities were the direct result of creative community outreach efforts and exciting partnerships and collaborations throughout the Greater Louisville area.
“Ian has been terrific to work with and we enjoyed having him at Kentucky Opera,” says Kentucky Opera Board Chairman William A. Blodgett, Jr. “He brings a great deal of artistic experience and creative thinking to the tasks at hand and has impressed us all with his boundless energy, his personal charm, and his confident approach to the job. Over these past two seasons, Ian Derrer upheld the high artistic standards of Kentucky Opera, for which we are grateful. The community regrets losing Ian but congratulates him on this opportunity to return to, and lead, The Dallas Opera. We know he will be a tremendous success there.”
Derrer has been a lifelong opera lover. When he was a child, both his parents sang in the Charlotte Opera Chorus (now Opera Carolina) and occasionally allowed him to attend their rehearsals. Even when the family was relaxing at home together, opera was often the music of choice on the turntable. Derrer recently told Opera News, “This was my misspent youth! I fell in love with languages…with various singers, I fell in love with the voice. It is still my passion.”