Posted by: Through the Eyes of Women | February 19, 2018

February 19, 2018 What Does It Take To Produce The Dazzling Performances Of The Metropolitan Opera? Host Corinne Frugoni Interviews Sarah Billinghurst, Former Artistic Director Of The Metropolitan Opera In An Encore Presentation Originally Aired 02/20/12.

The Metropolitan Opera is the vibrant home for some of the most creative and talented artists from around the world. In December 2006, the company launched The Met:Live in HD, a series of live opera performances transmitted in high definition video via satellite from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City to movie theaters around the world, including the Minor Theater in Arcata, California. With these simulcast transmissions, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world can enjoy the beauty and drama of opera.

What does it take to produce an opera?  Sarah Billinghurst retired as artistic manager of the Metropolitan Opera in 2014.  During her tenure of 20 years, The New York Times labeled her as “one of the most important people in opera you’ve never heard of.”  In her position of power and influence, along with Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, she was responsible for the strategic decisions about the company’s repertory, watching out for artists at competitions and rival houses, finding directors, filling major and minor roles, coordinating rehearsals and producing more than two dozen operas a season. Ms Billinghurst was able to accomplish these feats with diplomacy, generosity and friendship.

Sarah Billinghurst was born in New Zealand and arrived in San Francisco in 1967 with a degree in political science.  She began doing volunteer work at the San Francisco Opera and after 4 years of licking envelopes and doing other various and sundreed tasks, she gradually worked her way into becoming the artistic administrator. In 1994 whe was offered the position as assistant manager, artistic at the Metropolitan Opera reporting directly to the then music director James Levine and the general manager Peter Gelb. All this while raising her two children as a single mother on a modest salary.

A colleague of Ms Billinghurst has written “In this business it’s hard to be universally adored and respected.  Sarah Billinghurst is one of those rare people.  Her capacity for thoughtfulness is boundless.  She can even deliver bad news in a way that creates no grudges.  To have risen from a secretary at the SFO to the second most powerful person in American opera is a breathtaking accomplishment.”

Since retirement, Sarah continues to live in New York and remains active lending her considerable skills to various philanthropic artistic endeavors around the world.

To listen to/or download this segment, click the following link: 20001_TTEOW 2-19_programs





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