Hired last week, business consultant and longtime opera patron Liz Tullis has begun her new job as Opera San Antonio’s new executive director, the latest in a series of leadership changes that include the recent naming of tenor Adam Diegel as the organization’s new artistic director.
“Adam can focus on maintaining the high quality of performance that Opera San Antonio has,” Tullis said, while she can “bring in the the business side, the financial side, and the strategic side. I think it’s going to be a really great partnership.”
The directorial roles had been combined previously under former General and Artist Director Enrique Carreón-Robledo, who “resigned to pursue other opportunities,” Blair Labatt said Tuesdsay in the Rivard Report. Labatt became chairman of the board of Opera San Antonio after the retirement of founder Mel Weingart, announced Nov. 2.
“As an organization grows and matures, it needs multi-dimensional strength,” Labatt said of the four-year old nonprofit opera company.
“With Liz and Adam, we are strengthening ourselves both in the organizational, strategic dimension and in the artistic dimension. We’re just that much deeper as an organization, and more prepared for growth and stability, which is our objective,” he said.
Of Tullis, Labatt said, “She’s a very accomplished analyst of organizations, and a student of how people work together, and what makes organizations strong.” Her focus will be on the “non-artistic side of the business,” he said, particularly development, marketing, and education.
Tullis brings to the job a longstanding interest in the visual and performing arts, and a background of more than two decades in strategic planning for business. “I have a unique skill set,” she said. “In addition to appreciation for the art form, I also work from a business angle.”
Formerly an internal consultant for Bank of America, she said she helped the company “look at the changes they wanted to do internally, to be able to deliver to their customers what they wanted to deliver.”
In addition, Tullis has worked with many types of for-profit and nonprofit organizations, she said. “I’ve always considered not-for-profits as needing to keep that business side” in mind, she said.
Tullis said she has been a patron of San Antonio opera for many years. “I am really excited about the upcoming performance of La Bohème, it’s always been one of my favorites,” she said.
“[Diegel] is bringing in some really good energy,” she said, and will connect with both audiences familiar with opera, “but also the ones who maybe don’t know that they are” fans yet, she said.
In particular, Tullis said, “I’m going to be really excited about getting him out into the community as we try to look at the opera market … and make sure we’re getting people to the performances, because that’s what it’s all about.”
Founded in 2014 as the resident opera company for the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, Opera San Antonio has since moved to a two performance per season schedule. La Bohème is scheduled for May 17 and 19 to close out the current season, and preparations for September’s season-opening La Traviata “are well underway,” Diegel said.