Timothy O'Leary | St. Louis Public Radio

Timothy O'Leary

Timothy O'Leary concludes ten years of leadership at Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Timothy O’Leary, general director of Opera Theatre of St. Louis, is concluding a 10 year run in St. Louis as head of the city’s premier opera theater company.

“I’m getting very nostalgic about St. Louis and how much I love it here,” O’Leary told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Tuesday.

O’Leary is heading east to lead the Washington National Opera, an organization that’s part of the Kennedy Center and that enjoys more than twice the budget of OTSL.

Stephen Lord
Provided by Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Opera Theatre of St. Louis was barely five seasons old when a young musician named Stephen Lord, a fellow who might have been a French teacher had he not developed a reputation for being a crackerjack music coach and accompanist, was hired as head of music staff of the fledgling company by its founder, Richard Gaddes.

Lord, 66, believes now is the time to move on, so after the 2017 opera season, this ebullient musician, who eventually became music director of the company, will become music director emeritus.

Stephen Lord, Tim O'Leary, and Aubrey Allicock joined "St. Louis on the Air" in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1976, a small group of dedicated opera aficionados brought eleven performances of four operas, ranging from Mozart to Britten, to St. Louis.

The repertory was unconventional, and all the operas were performed in English rather than their original languages—unusual choices for traditional opera festivals, but choices that continue, 40 years later, to draw curious locals and dedicated foreign followers to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Clay Hilley as Siegfried, Alexandra LoBianco as Brünnhilde
John Lamb | Union Avenue Opera

On the way home Friday night from the Union Avenue Opera on North Union Boulevard, I landed in the middle of a beehive at the intersection of Euclid and Maryland avenues. The place is always busy, but on weekend evenings it's especially alive. However, this Friday the corner drew many more police officers than usual, including the chief, Sam Dotson.

Alderman Lyda Krewson was there; so were many worried longtime residents of the neighborhood. There were tourists from St. Louis County and beyond -- parents bringing their kids to college. Lots of folks were hanging out in the bars and outdoor cafes drinking up a storm. Gridlock-causing motorists, either just cruisin’ or looking for parking places or glimpses of civil disobedience, were in abundance.

Ken Howard

Although Tobias Picker’s “Emmeline” received great accolades for its Santa Fe Opera premiere in 1996 and again in 1998 when that production was staged at the New York City Opera, it hasn’t been mounted since. But that will change on June 13 when Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its production of the American saga.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its 40th anniversary season on May 23 with a production of Rossini’s comic opera “The Barber of Seville.” Conducted by St. Louis native Ryan McAdams, the production features the Opera Theatre debut of mezzo-soprano Emily Fons in the role of Rosina.

The season continues with Puccini’s romantic opera “La Rondine” opening on May 30. Former Gerdine Young Artist, soprano Sydney Mancasola sings the role of Lisette.

Timothy O'Leary, left, Duane Foster and Jermaine Smith discuss #WithNormandy, Sunday's community concert at Normandy High School.
Erin Williams / Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

“We are all one in song,” said Duane Foster, which is the idea behind Sunday’s #WithNormandy: A Concert for Peace and Unity.

The Normandy High School Choir, directed by fine arts teacher Foster, will participate in the concert at the school, along with an all-star cast of performers that includes Denyce Graves, Christine Brewer, Julia Bullock, Erika Johnson, Derrell Acon and Jermaine Smith.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This time almost a year ago, I was in Oxford, England, and on a stroll through the university town late one afternoon, I saw a bulletin indicating times of services at Christ Church Cathedral. I got up early the next morning, made my way to the ancient monument of faith, walked in a brilliant dawn through the awe-inspiring quadrangle — and went to church.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: For one old enough to remember when Opera Theatre of St. Louis was the Little Company That Could, the public relations release that bounced in Wednesday was full of information I at first regarded as bizarre.

Robert Orth as Howie Albert and Aubrey Allicock as Young Emile Griffith
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

On Saturday, June 15, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis performs the world premiere of jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard’s first opera, Champion. Set to a libretto by Michael Cristofer, the opera tells the true story of Emile Griffith, a gay boxer who became the Welterweight Champion of the World. But in a boxing match, he kills his opponent through no fault of his own, and then has to live with the guilt for the rest of his life.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 10, 2011 - "The Death of Klinghoffer," opening June 15 at Opera Theatre St. Louis, was composed by the nation's most respected living opera composer, John Adams, and written by poet-librettist Alice Goodman. But this 1987 opera has been largely neglected as a stage piece -- though choral pieces have been sung to ravishing reviews.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, ​May 24, 2011 -  In 1985 four Palestinians hijacked an Italian cruise ship, the MS Achille Lauro. Among the passengers were Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer who were celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary. The terrorists singled out and killed Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish-American retired appliance manufacturer and stroke survivor, who used a wheel chair. After Klinghoffer was shot and killed, his body -- and wheelchair -- were tossed overboard.

It was a shocking moment, coming decades before the terrorist atrocities that have become all too commonplace.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 8, 2009 - Ever since a transformational evening when he was 17, Timothy O'Leary has had a passion for opera. He's eager to share his joy.

His opera evangelism is one reason the former New York City Opera administrator was chosen the new general director for Opera Theatre of St. Louis. That title includes the duties of CEO, executive producer and, especially in the stressful days before opening nights, chief soother.