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Monday, July 1, 2024

President & General Director Joseph Specter Will Seek New Opportunities when Contract Ends on June 30, 2025; Will Continue to Oversee Organization Through Search for New Leadership


PHOENIX AND TUCSON, Ariz. (July 1, 2024) — Arizona Opera’s President & General Director, Joseph Specter, will be concluding his tenure with the company at the end of this fiscal year when his current contract expires, on June 30, 2025.

Specter, who will be moving on to new professional opportunities over the next year, is now entering his ninth year with the organization, and plans at this time — with the full backing of Arizona Opera’s Board of Directors — to finish out his contract while a search for new leadership takes place.

The Board of Directors is supportive of Joe’s decision and wishes him nothing but the best now and in the future. In the meantime, Joe will continue in his leadership role in the organization uninterrupted.

The Board has established a search committee for the company's next President & General Director and will be engaging a national search firm to do extensive outreach to potential candidates for the position.

Specter said he intends to finish out the contract at this time because he believes it is an important time in Arizona Opera’s history as the organization begins to implement its newly adopted strategic plan, with a focus on organizational stability and community impact and awareness, as well as the innovation that has helped to distinguish the company nationally.

“I am incredibly grateful to Arizona Opera for the opportunity to have served our state through this remarkable art form over the past eight years,” Specter said. “Together, we have celebrated three world premieres, including our first feature film; the creation of a new opera-oriented graphic novel; numerous new productions; and expanded education and community engagement programming.

“None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support of our donors, our Board, our staff, our patrons, and our community. I look forward to working with our exceptional team to make the 2024/25 Season one to remember. And, as my tenure with Arizona Opera draws to a close, I am committed to ensuring that the transition to new leadership is as seamless as possible.”

“Joseph Specter has been an exceptional leader of the Arizona Opera during some challenging times for the performing arts industry, and we could not be more grateful for his stewardship and dedication,” said Board Chair David Heap. “We are confident that he will continue to provide exemplary leadership throughout the rest of his tenure as we work to implement our strategic plan and launch our 2024/25 Season.”

The launch of the new strategy includes a new “Beyond Downtown” program, part of the McDougall RED Series, that will take opera outside its traditional venues and into the broader Arizona community. The new “Beyond Downtown” programming will launch the 2024/25 Season this fall with the company’s series of in-theater productions beginning in January 2025 and continuing into the fall. The season’s in-theater productions include classics from the canon — La Bohème and Aida—as well as the Arizona premiere of the adventure opera Zorro. The season will also feature the expansion of Arizona Opera’s annual Tucson recital program into the Phoenix metro, and the continuation of the company’s prolific statewide education programs.

This shift in Arizona Opera’s season format will help the Arizona Opera begin the implementation of its new strategic plan, which is designed to ensure the organization’s fiscal stability and maximize the company’s impact across the community for years to come.

Specter said both he and the Board are committed to ensuring steady, quality leadership over the course of the next year so that the Arizona Opera is best positioned for its brightest possible future.



Arizona Opera connects and inspires communities through artistically vibrant programs and productions that combine music, storytelling, and the human voice, creating inclusive, culturally relevant, and impactful experiences, while ensuring the financial sustainability of opera in our state. Since its inaugural year in 1971 as the Tucson Opera Company, Arizona Opera has produced more than 200 staged operas and concerts. The company's artistic history is rich with a blend of traditional works from the canon, as well as compelling works from the 20th and 21st centuries, and an array of high-impact educational and community engagement programs.

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