Opera Grand Rapids has hired Maestro James Meena as its new artistic director, beginning in the 2017-2018 season.
Meena currently acts as the general director and principal conductor of Opera Carolina and the principal artistic advisor for Toledo Opera. He’s been with Opera Carolina since 2000 and the opera’s budget has increased from $1.9 million to $3.5 million in that same time. There, he expanded the season with another show, added an annual Gala Benefit Concert, and expanded the education touring company.
Among other roles, Meena has also acted as a guest conductor at operas all over the world, where he has earned high acclaim for his dynamic presence.
“Given his extensive expertise and proven accomplishments, Maestro Meena was a clear choice to fill our needs in the areas of artistic leadership with enhanced community engagement,” Opera Grand Rapids Board President Bob Evett said in a statement.
Meena replaces Maestro Robert Lyall, who acted as Opera Grand Rapids’ artistic director and conductor since 1989.
When he begins, Meena will select the opera’s program, guest artists and production teams, as well as help audition singers.
The 2017-2018 season will also act as the opera’s 50th anniversary, kicking off a new five-year roadmap with two large-scale productions and newly-installed theater seating at the Betty Van Andel Opera Center.