TDO’s Hart Institute, launched in 2015, is the only program of its kind in the world and seeks to address the extreme gender imbalance of leadership on the podium in opera companies. Now in its sixth year, more than 500 women conductors from 40 nations have applied to be trained, advised, and supported by this extraordinary initiative.
This year, a total of 72 applicants from seventeen countries applied by the May 1st deadline to take part either as conductors or administrators. The seven women selected as Conducting Fellows for the 2021 Dallas Opera Hart Institute are listed below. Please read the press release for more details. Links to participant bios may be reviewed in the menu on the right side of this page.
- Yeo Ryeong Ahn (South Korea)
- Christine Brandes (USA)
- Michelle Di Russo (Argentina)
- Barbara Dragan (Poland)
- Chelsea Gallo (USA)
- Elinor Rufeizen (Israel)
- Susannah Wapshott (UK)
This groundbreaking institute, which has changed the face of classical music by significantly advancing the careers of women in the most visible position in the orchestra, will take place via a two-week virtual residency February 8-19, 2021 because of the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021 schedule of masterclasses and presentations, still in the planning stage, will take place virtually as participants are unable to travel to Dallas because of the pandemic. While many of the sessions will be closed to all but Hart Fellows, some will be made available to a worldwide audience through various digital platforms.
This season’s 2020/2021 Hart Institute for Women Conductors Showcase Concert, scheduled for Friday, February 19, 2021, has been cancelled due to extreme ongoing COVID concerns. Stay tuned for a rescheduled date later this year.
About the Program
The world’s first program designed to meet the needs of women opera conductors, the prestigious Hart Institute provides conducting opportunities with The Dallas Opera Orchestra and masterclasses with the internationally-acclaimed music director of The Dallas Opera, Emmanuel Villaume, and TDO’s Principal Guest Conductor, Nicole Paiement (the music director of San Francisco’s award-winning Opera Parallèle). The Hart Institute presents seminars and one-on-ones with prominent leaders in classical music and opera. Topics include selecting the right artist manager, best practices in working with executive recruiters, opera management and fundraising, personal branding, media management, and more.
At the end of the program, each conductor will have access to a high-resolution video that shows her conducting full-length overtures and arias or ensembles with The Dallas Opera Orchestra. This material will be hosted on the TDO website and may be viewed by prospective artist managers, opera general directors, and symphony CEOs, artistic directors and administrators, as well as the media. A sample of video material from one of our alumnae can be found here.
While The Dallas Opera is not able to make a firm commitment to every participant in this program, TDO’s future seasons will welcome back former participants of the Hart Institute in a variety of assistant conductor and guest conductor roles.
While the Hart Institute began with a focus on supporting talented conductors, the challenges faced by women opera administrators are equally daunting. To address this imbalance, The Dallas Opera has added a new component to the institute by inviting two to four American opera administrators to join the program each season. These women will be selected on the basis of their leadership experience and potential to become the leader of one of America’s top opera companies later in their careers and will attend all virtual sessions alongside participants. This curriculum includes the role of the Board, leadership development, personal branding, media and PR training, effective artist management, and navigating recruiting processes for senior-level positions. To continue to develop their musical skills, which is essential for any opera executive, the administrators will observe rehearsals with The Dallas Opera Orchestra and conducting masterclasses. Special sessions on Marketing, Development, and Finance will also be offered to these administrators.
Hart Institute Sponsors
Naming Support for the Institute from Linda and Mitch Hart
Initial Support from the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation
Additional Support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Baker Botts LLP, Cindy and Charlie Feld, Jenifer and Peter Flynn, Susan and Mark Geyer, Holly and Tom Mayer, J.P. Morgan, Betty and Steve Suellentrop, Martha and Max Wells, Debra Witter and Scott Chase, and Texas Women’s Foundation.