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Seattle Opera director pays tribute to his stage unions

August 7, 2014 by norman lebrecht

10 comments.


Speight Jenkins, General Director of the Seattle Opera since 1983, is stepping down this weekend. But not before he sent the following handwritten note to his stage crews:

seattle opera letter


Comments (10)

  1. Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    Wonderful that it is hand-written. A real personal touch and a genuine sign of respect. If I was one of his crew I’d give him a hug :-)

  2. Claudia Menlo says:

    … writes the man whose final season ran a $1 million shortfall.

  3. newyorker says:

    I nominate Claudia to be banished from the internet.

    1. Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      Banishing Claudia is not the thing to do, because we would be deprived of the misanthropic attitude she chose to exercise her right to free speech. Her comment, while true, reveals more about herself rather than about Seattle Opera and the great team of people who work there with great dedication. I, for one, have experienced this strong spirit of collegiality throughout the entire house during the RING cycles in 2009 and 2014, and I intend to continue my support for the company exactly because the spirit and attitude expresse by Speight Jenkins’ beautiful note – for which I will be able to thank him in person as I will attend the event on Saturday evening celebrating Speight’s achievements as he retires from Seattle Opera.

      1. Bob M says:

        Well said, Edgar. The best thing to do for any orchestra in the face of financial hardship is a positive outlook. Ignore the problems and fill the air with verbal accolades. After all, that worked so well for the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, Denver Symphony Orchestra…

        1. Amy says:

          Hmm. “Bob M” is here to be snarky, it seems.

  4. Nick says:

    A lovely tribute to a group of often highly qualified staff whose work mostly goes unnoticed, yet come in for all sorts of blame elsewhere when Union negotiations are underway.

    I remember flying thousands of miles to attend Scottish Opera’s last Ring cycle about 10 years ago. As the curtain rose at the end of Gotterdammerung, it was the technical crew who were assembled on stage to receive the first accolades. I had never seen that before and the applause and cheers were richly deserved.

  5. Andrew says:

    Think of the countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars on lessons that technical crew spent honing their skills to be able to get the chance to work at an opera house.

  6. Bob M says:

    It’s a shame he addressed them as a chunk of union numbers instead of a group of competent, hard-working individuals.

    1. John says:

      The thank you letter is addressed to the collective unions because they wrote him a tribute signed in that way which was read at his retirement party. They also, as a group, made a donation in his honor to Seattle Opera. Good grief.


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