US opera founder bows out with cancer

US opera founder bows out with cancer


norman lebrecht

April 14, 2017

An Important Message from MOT


It is with heavy hearts we share the news that our beloved founder and artistic director David DiChiera has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. David is and has been a driving force in the opera community and the city of Detroit, pushing the art form forward and using it to add culture to the city.

David continues to be vitally engaged with our company and we look forward to celebrating his legacy with our season-ending production of David’s opera “Cyrano” and the Grand Salute, a long-planned and uplifting celebration of David’s life work.

Below is a personal letter from David, that we would like to share with you.


Dear Friends,

Over the past two years I’ve been planning for my formal departure from the opera company and the opera house that I’ve built along with the love and help of so many of you and your fellow opera and dance devotees. For me it has been a true labor of love, one in which I’ve been given back so much more than I’ve given. Saying “so long” is bittersweet to say the least, but the time is right for me to move on.

In recent months I’ve had the pleasure and excitement of watching as plans take shape for the incredible Gala weekend being planned in my honor in May. The weekend will be a wonderful capstone to my career as well as a fitting kickoff for the exciting future of Michigan Opera Theatre. I hope you will be able to share it with me.

Life, of course, is never predictable. As someone once said, we don’t lead our own lives; they lead us. And often they surprise us, as mine has recently done.

I have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. But I fully intend to be at the May celebration. I don’t want that Gala to be turned into a memorial. I want to be there, to see all my friends and family, to personally thank you for your love and support, and to truly celebrate the future of Michigan Opera Theatre and the City of Detroit with you. The opera house and the opera company will stand for many years as my legacy to Detroit and to opera and, with the exception of my family, they will always be my proudest achievement.

At 82 years I have lived an unbelievably rich and rewarding life and when the time comes I’ll leave it with few regrets. Your friendship is among my greatest treasures. You will always be in my heart and I hope some part of me will always be in yours. I look forward to seeing you at the Gala and to sharing a great evening together.


David DiChiera



  • Joe says:

    Thank you for sharing! A truly great man. What wonderful contribution to the world of opera and the city of Detroit. We look forward to an exciting future with the Michigan Opera Theatre. Thank you David!

  • Ken J. says:

    Mr. DiChiera leaves Detroit with a wonderful, tangible legacy in the Detroit Opera House, whose creation he sparked & supervised. The theater is a restored1922 ornate movie palace on the audience side, with a punch-through to a modern stage and backstage which was new construction in 1995.

    I got to speak to him briefly once, and he was very warm and friendly.

    The Detroit Opera House is two blocks from the baseball stadium; I remember one great evening when the after-matinee opera crowd and the after-game baseball crowd met at the same brewpub with a lot of friendly mixing going on.