Toledo Opera has announced a change in leadership.
James M. Norman and Kevin Bylsma are set to take on leadership positions at the opera following the retirement of current Executive Director Suzanne Rorick, in the spring. Norman will serve as the new Toledo Opera General Director and Bylsma as the Artistic Director.
Rorick, who retires at the end of May, is excited for the pair to take on the job.
“In my years at Toledo Opera, I have learned that managing a nonprofit is not a straight line. You take information from the community and those around you to create a straight line out of the circumstances at hand. How lucky we are at Toledo Opera to have two gentlemen on our team who are willing and more than able to take on the job. The timing is right and they are right for the job,” Rorick said.
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The duo has a collective 45 years experience with the Opera.
Norman first performed at the Opera in 1981, singing in the chorus of Aida. He continued to perform in both chorus and comprimario roles for almost 19 years. In 2011 he returned to the Toledo Opera to work as the stage manager for Turandot alongside Maestro James Meena. Since then he has served in various positions for the Opera including Production Manager, Director of Production and Co-Artistic Director.
“I am truly humbled to have been entrusted with the future of Toledo Opera. My primary goal is to align with the vision of our esteemed board to build upon the remarkable achievements of my predecessors as we embark on an exciting phase of increasing our influence and relevance within the Toledo community,” Norman said.
Bylsma began working with the Opera in 1997 after leaving Detroit Opera. Byslma also worked alongside Maestro James Meena as his Musical Assistant and as Head of Musical Preparation. Since his return to the Opera in 2011 he has served as principal rehearsal pianist for all mainstage operas, chorus master, Co-Artistic Director and Head of Music Preparation. He has also served as an Associate Teaching Professor of Opera for Bowling Green State University since 2006.
“I am honored and thrilled to be named Artistic Director of Toledo Opera,” Bylsma said. “Not only is it my goal to maintain the high artistic level that is the hallmark of Toledo Opera productions, but also to introduce even more Toledoans to the passion and joy that is opera!”
For information on performances taking the Toledo Opera’s stage in the 2024 season, visit https://www.toledoopera.org/.