Kentucky Opera announced today that its General Director, Ian Derrer, is departing in June to return to The Dallas Opera as its CEO and  General Director.

Derrer joined Kentucky Opera as General Director in September of 2016 and during his tenure worked to elevate the artistic excellence of Kentucky Opera’s productions. He presided over two successful seasons and a number of noteworthy debuts at Kentucky Opera including: Christine Brewer, Stephanie Blythe, Rodell Rosel, Emily Fons, Phyllis Pancella, Will Liverman, Megan Marino, John Irvin, Adam Lau, and Dale Travis.

Derrer also created a new program, Sidecar, in 2017 which showcases noteworthy singers in a cabaret-style performance of classic standards in an intimate speakeasy setting. The series returns to The Mercury Ballroom on May 19 and coincides with the drawing of Kentucky Opera’s Annual Design Your Dream Porsche raffle winner.

Derrer demonstrated his serious commitment to diversity by hiring women directors to stage all three mainstage productions of Kentucky Opera’s Brown-Forman 2018/19 Season.

By expanding opportunities for young artists during his time as General Director, Derrer sparked a notable increase in applications for the Barbara and Halsey Sandford Studio Artist Program.  Many of those opportunities were the direct result of creative community outreach efforts and exciting partnerships and collaborations throughout the Greater Louisville area.

“Ian has been terrific to work with and we enjoyed having him at Kentucky Opera,” says Kentucky Opera Board Chairman William A. Blodgett, Jr.  “He brings a great deal of artistic experience and creative thinking to the tasks at hand and has impressed us all with his boundless energy, his personal charm, and his confident approach to the job.

“Over these past two seasons, Ian Derrer upheld the high artistic standards of Kentucky Opera, for which we are grateful.  The community regrets losing Ian but congratulates him on this opportunity to return to, and lead, The Dallas Opera.  We know he will be a tremendous success there.”

The search for Kentucky Opera’s next General Director is already underway and Blodgett expects to have a new General Director selected prior to Derrer’s departure.

Plans for the Brown-Forman 2018/19 Season have been finalized as the Kentucky Opera staff works to execute Derrer’s vision for this upcoming season. Season subscriptions are currently on sale. Additionally, plans for the 2019/20 Season have also begun.

Says Blodgett, “Although we are sad to lose Ian, we have every confidence in our staff that this transition will be a smooth one.  Subscription sales for the upcoming season are expected to exceed those of the 2017/18 Season. We look forward to continuing the great success and mission of Kentucky Opera.”

The appointment of the 43-year-old graduate of the Meadows School of the Arts (SMU) marks Derrer’s return to the company—and the city—where he previously served as artistic administrator from 2014 to 2016.  His official title will be The Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO. The move was officially announced earlier this afternoon at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House by Dallas Opera Chairman Holly Mayer.   




Currently in its 66th season of production, Kentucky Opera was founded in 1952 and designated the State Opera of Kentucky in 1982. The mission of Kentucky Opera is to enrich and engage our community through spectacular music, creative storytelling, and the thrill of the human voice. Follow Kentucky Opera on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supports Kentucky Opera with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.