Arizona Opera's Altman quits as general director

2013-04-10T00:00:00Z 2013-07-09T16:13:24Z Arizona Opera's Altman quits as general directorCathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Arizona Opera General Director Scott Altman resigned late Monday, saying he had done all he set out to do when he joined the company in 2009.

In a prepared statement, Altman said he and the company "have accomplished the organizational and personal objectives set when I arrived." Chief among those objectives was to consolidate and move the administrative operations from Tucson to taxpayer-funded facilities in downtown Phoenix.

Late last month, Arizona Opera, which mounts operas in Phoenix and Tucson, moved into the 16,800-square-foot Arizona Opera Center at 1636 N. Central Ave.

"As my fourth production season comes to a close, and the Arizona Opera Center is now occupied, the timing is perfect for my family and the opera to enter our next chapters," Altman said in the statement.

He could not be reached for additional comment.

"Getting into a new building was no small task," said David Christensen, Arizona Opera Board of Trustees chairman. "I think that that was the big objective, and that took a lot of time and a lot of effort on his part."

Christensen said Altman gave no heads-up that he was leaving the company, although "there was an inkling."

"I was not necessarily blind-sided," Christensen said, adding that Altman was not forced to resign. "It was his choice. He thought it was time to move on, and I respect that."

The board named Ryan Taylor interim general director. He joined the company in February 2012 as director of artistic administration.

Altman joined Arizona Opera in the 2009-10 season as the company was struggling against mounting debt and declining revenues, both in ticket sales and contributed income. His biggest task and arguably his most contentious was to consolidate administrative operations being conducted in Tucson and Phoenix into one central location.

Voters in Phoenix had approved a bond issue to fund most of the cost of a building for Arizona Opera, which freed the company to sell its Tucson and Phoenix properties to pay down some of its $2.5 million accumulated debt.

The move, though, caused hurt feelings in Tucson with many longtime supporters telling Arizona Opera that they felt the company was abandoning the city that gave birth to it 42 years ago. The company sold its Tucson building to Habitat for Humanity in November 2011 for $475,000.

On the artistic side, Altman was at the helm for three company premieres and two world-premiere productions and a historic collaboration with the Phoenix Symphony and Ballet Arizona, Christensen said.

IF YOU GO

Arizona Opera wraps up its 2012-13 season this weekend with Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" at Tucson Music Hall. See a preview in Thursday's Caliente.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.

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