Cincinnati Opera’s Patty Beggs to Retire in 2020

CO_Patty Beggs

Patricia K. Beggs.

General Director & CEO Patricia K. Beggs to Retire Following Cincinnati Opera’s 100th Season in August 2020 

Evans Mirageas, The Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director,
Renews Contract Through 2022 

Liz Kathman Grubow Becomes President-Elect of the Board 

Search for New General Director to Begin Immediately 

CINCINNATI, OH—Cincinnati Opera today announced news of a major transition to come in 2020: Patricia K. Beggs, The Harry Fath General Director and CEO, will retire at the close of the company’s 100th anniversary season, after 35 years at the company. A national search for a new general director will begin immediately, to ensure a smooth transition.

“I’ve had a dream job for almost half of my life,” Beggs said. “To go to work at one of the most iconic buildings in the country, to be inspired daily by the glorious music being created in Music Hall, to learn from the best and brightest people who make up the Opera’s staff, Board, Guild, and volunteers, as well as my arts colleagues, and finally to sit in glorious Springer Auditorium on Cincinnati Opera’s opening night, and know that I played a small role in making the magic happen. The best job ever!”

Patty Beggs began her tenure at Cincinnati Opera in 1984 as marketing director, following a successful corporate career. Her creative marketing campaigns helped effect Cincinnati Opera’s remarkable turnaround in attendance in the late 1980s and 1990s, becoming a leading industry standard for new approaches in audience development. She took over management of the company in 1997. Since then, the company’s operating budget has increased from about $4 million in 1997 to $9 million in 2019. Fiscal responsibility has been a hallmark of Beggs’s administration; the company has posted a balanced budget for 21 of those 22 years. Beggs has also led the charge to increase the endowment, which has doubled during her tenure to approximately $30 million. Beggs is committed to developing meaningful partnerships in the community and the belief that collaboration is fundamental to the success of arts organizations.

Cincinnati Opera’s highlights during her tenure are innumerable. The company moved to the Corbett Opera Center, a new, custom-built administrative headquarters in the north wing of Music Hall, in 2005. In 2007, Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music formed the first official program between an opera company and a conservatory in the U.S. with the founding of Opera Fusion. In 2013, Cincinnati Opera launched the Opera Campus initiative, expanding the company’s reach beyond Music Hall and into additional venues in Over-the-Rhine, including Washington Park and the Corbett Theater at The School for Creative and Performing Arts. In the past several years, Cincinnati Opera has presented two world premieres and a U.S. premiere, all to critical acclaim, with three more commissioned new works to premiere in 2019 and 2020.

Beggs has served as treasurer on the national board of OPERA America, and was awarded its national service award, BRAVO, in 2010. In 2008, Beggs and the Opera were honored by the NAACP for their extraordinary efforts in building connections to the African American community. Recognized frequently as a distinguished leader, she was a member of Leadership Cincinnati’s Class XVII, and was named a Cincinnati Regional Chamber of Commerce WE Celebrate Woman of the Year-Non Profit in 2015, Woman of Over-the-Rhine Story of Success in 2007, 2006 YWCA Career Woman of Achievement, Woman of the Year by the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1999, and Woman of Distinction by the Great Rivers Girl Scouts in 1992. She is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in America, and is a member of Cincinnati Women’s Executive Forum and Cincinnati Woman’s Club.

“Patty Beggs has been a pillar of American opera, helping guide our art form and industry into the 21st century with the highest artistic and managerial standards,” said Marc A. Scorca, President & CEO of Opera America, the national service organization for opera companies. “Her passionate dedication to Cincinnati Opera, skill as a general director, commitment to the larger opera community, and unflagging grace have been an inspiration to me personally and a model of informed leadership across our field.  We salute her and thank her for her tremendous service.”

“Patty’s tenure at Cincinnati Opera has been extraordinary,” said Gary T. “Doc” Huffman, President of the Cincinnati Opera Board of Trustees and Chairman and CEO of Ohio National Financial Services. “During her time here, the company has commissioned seven world premieres and presented 33 company premieres, including the U.S. premiere of Another Brick in the Wall, which set a new record for ticket revenue. The endowment has more than doubled. Music Hall is revitalized. And—thanks to Patty—we have one of the most highly regarded teams of senior managers in the opera industry. We will be sad to see Patty leave, but we are profoundly grateful for her work.”

“There’s just no one like her,” said Harry Fath, past President of the Board of Trustees. “She’s devoted, tireless, and forward-thinking. She’s built an amazing company—one of the best opera companies in the nation. While I was President, there wasn’t anyone more delightful to work with than Patty Beggs.”

“ArtsWave salutes Patty Beggs, whose 34-year tenure at Cincinnati Opera has shaped the nation’s second-oldest opera company into also one of its most forward-thinking,” said Alecia Kintner, President & CEO of ArtsWave, the nation’s largest community campaign for the arts. “Patty’s leadership has helped bring boundary-busting projects to life, such as the recent productions of Fellow Travelers and Another Brick in the Wall. Her commitment to inclusion and accessibility has manifested itself in innovative ways, such as Opera Goes to Church and the one-of-a-kind Opera Express mobile theater. Her collaborations with Music Hall neighbors, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Ballet, and her mentoring of smaller groups like concert:nova and ROKCincy, have made for exciting mash-ups across disciplines and inside nontraditional performance spaces. Patty has positioned Cincinnati Opera well for its second century of impact in the Cincinnati region and beyond.”

Evans Mirageas, The Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of the company since 2005, has renewed his contract through the 2022 season. Mirageas recently stepped down as vice president of artistic planning for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a position he had held since 2012. Mirageas’s varied career in classical music has included radio production with the nationally renowned WFMT radio station in Chicago, Artistic Administrator to Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony, and Senior Vice President of Artists and Repertoire for the Decca Record Company. In addition, he is an award-winning record producer, lecturer, interviewer, presenter, and awards panelist.

“It is an honor to have the privilege to continue serving Cincinnati Opera through and beyond our 100th anniversary,” said Mirageas. “Our first century established us as the premiere summer venue for grand opera in the USA. Our second century builds on that legacy, and moreover sees us already positioned as a leader in the creation and presentation of new works that thrill audiences here, and what’s more, go on to nationwide fame. Patty Beggs has been so much a part of making this company what it is today; she is our fearless leader and a cherished colleague, and I will miss her dearly.”

Longtime Opera board member Liz Kathman Grubow, Vice President and Managing Creative Director at worldwide brand and innovation consultancy LPK, has been voted President-Elect of the Opera Board of Trustees. Grubow’s contributions to the company began decades ago, when she worked with Patty Beggs on the highly successful marketing campaigns of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Over the past decade, Grubow has been a dedicated supporter of the company’s outreach to young professionals, both through sponsorship of YP events and contributing to the development of a young professional level of Board membership. Grubow will take on the role of President of the Cincinnati Opera Board of Trustees in September 2019, and current Board President Gary T. “Doc” Huffman will step into the role of Chairman. 

Founded in 1920, Cincinnati Opera presents a thrilling season of opera every June and July in multiple venues, including the recently renovated historic Music Hall. The company’s repertoire includes beloved classics and contemporary works brought to life by some of the world’s most dynamic performers and creative teams. 

Cincinnati Opera’s 2019 Summer Festival runs June 13 through July 28, featuring Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, the world premiere of Blind Injustice by Scott Davenport Richards and David Cote, based on true stories of the Ohio Innocence Project, and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Cincinnati Opera’s 2019 Season Presenting Sponsor is Huntington Bank. The 2019 season is also made possible with support from ArtsWave, Ohio Arts Council, Macy’s, The Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund, and many generous individuals, corporations, and foundations. 

Cincinnati Opera’s mission is to enrich and connect our community through diverse opera experiences.



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