Executive Director of Opera Philadelphia David B. Devan announced his plans to leave the company at the end of the 2023-24 season.
The scoop: Opera Philadelphia has run up two $800,000 deficits in the past two years, forcing them to postpone performances of Joseph Bologne’s The Anonymous Lover by a season, cut their annual budget by 13%, eliminate five staff positions, and discontinue their streaming platform.
Why is this happening now?: After Covid, Opera Philadelphia expected audiences to return to pre-lockdown levels, which has failed to happen. Philanthropy has also subsided, dropping OP’s budget from $18 million down to $11 million.
David B. Devan, Opera Philadelphia’s ED since 2011, steered the company towards cutting-edge productions that reflect contemporary life, positioning it as a clear alternative to the nearby, more traditional Metropolitan Opera. Opera Philadelphia created 18 new productions during Devan’s tenure that have since been produced by companies around the world. When Covid-19 hit, he quickly pivoted the company towards digital creation.
What’s next?: Devan, who is originally from Toronto, believes the company needs to continue to be an integral part of Philadelphia’s community, including reaching those in underserved areas. Everything from talks of mergers with other companies to a complete upheaval of their definition of opera is on the table. In Devan’s words, “The next period of [Opera Philadelphia’s] evolution is going to be a long one.”
Let’s hope their next leader is ready to buckle up and continue Devan’s work championing this innovative company.