We are thrilled to welcome our new Director of Artistic Operations: Â David Blackburn!
PBO: Like many arts administrators, you were a musician first. Tell us a bit about that.
DB: I was a singer and a percussionist all thru my young life. When I went to college, UT Austin, I had to choose and I chose to head toward voice. Then came opera etc etc etc. I have two degrees in Voice Performance â€“ BM from UT and MM from Manhattan School of Music. I worked as a character tenor for about 8 years before I finally decided that I was never going to have the career I WANTED â€“ I was never going to sing Rodolfo â€“ and I decided to quit singing. It had become a â€œjobâ€ â€“ then I went into finance for a few year and came back into the opera biz because I missed it.
PBO: You are the Director of Artistic Operations. Soâ€¦.what exactly do you do?
DB: I am new here so I am still finding this out! I handle and oversee all things artistic at the company. This means that yes, I cast the operas, I choose the young artists etc. I also handle contracting of the artists but in addition there is a lot of administrative duties that have direct relation to the artistic side. I do travel and housing for all the artists as well as visas for any non-American artists. I am also involved with all union negotiations. But I am most excited that I get to use my performer chops a bit and do some presentations at Lunch&Learn and hopefully also for some other PBO events!
PBO: What is your favorite part about your job?
DB: Like anyone â€“ the casting! I love working on finding the very best options for each role in our season â€“ but not only finding who is singing certain roles at a high level these days, but the most fun is sitting with all the names and finding the best complete casts. How each singer relates to other singers makes such a difference in an entire evening and that is the most fun â€“ I canâ€™t wait to see some of the results!
PBO: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
DB: Well â€“ Elvis. Not exactly a â€œwhatâ€ but rather a who! I sang my little Texas pants off to every Elvis record my parents and grandparents had and I was convinced that my future was full of sequined suits and screaming fans! So if you ever pass me driving home from work, if you roll your window down you might still catch a tiny bit of my See See Rider rendition!