New York, NY (March 20, 2018) – Jim Schaeffer, the Artistic & General Director of the Center for Contemporary Opera since October 2008 announces his retirement, effective June 30, 2018. A search for a new General Director will begin immediately.
Gene Rotberg, Chairman of the Center for Contemporary Opera’s Board of Trustees said about Jim Schaeffer’s retirement, “It is not easy to say farewell to someone who shone so brightly in a corner of our world. Jim Schaeffer was, indeed is, the Center for Contemporary Opera. He auditioned, produced, directed, managed, and raised the funding virtually by himself for an institution whose viability existed only because of him. He brought to the world new operas, new librettos, new composers. Like magic, productions were financed and presented to great acclaim. He was in truth the impresario, the financial wizard and the ultimate manager. Put simply, the Center for Contemporary Opera feels toward Jim what I believe Jim feels for the Center of Contemporary Opera – the thoughts expressed by the English poet, Robert Bridges:
‘I will not let thee go
I hold thee by too many bands:
Thou sayest farewell, and lo!
I have thee by the hands,
And will not let thee go.’”
Jim Schaeffer stated, “It has been a great honor to have directed the Center for Contemporary Opera for the past ten years. I will greatly miss the excitement of bringing the works of living composers to the stage as well as the many artists, directors, conductors, and designers with whom I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. Contemporary opera is now enjoying a second renaissance in the United States and I would like to think that CCO played a key role in making that possible.”
Jim Schaeffer has served as the Center for Contemporary Opera’s General and Artistic Director since October 2008. Prior to that, from 2005 – 2008, he was director of Long Leaf Opera in Raleigh, North Carolina, the country’s only opera company dedicated to fully staged operas originally written in English. Between the two companies, Schaeffer produced and/or developed ninety operas, the overwhelming majority by living American composers.
A retired Air Force senior officer, Schaeffer served in a variety of flying, logistics and command assignments while on active duty, including command of the largest supply-chain organization in the USAF. His final assignment was as the NATO liaison officer during the siege of Sarajevo where he conveyed NATO’s positions to the warring factions and the United Nations. Following retirement, he entered the electronics industry and was senior partner of Trouvere, Inc. of Cambridge, MA, and president of Spectron Electronics, Los Angeles. He was also on the Board of Directors of Sonus Research and Design, Providence, RI and the Duke Tower Hotel, Durham, N.C.
Schaeffer holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Human Resource Development from Webster University, St. Louis. He was a principal bassoonist of the orchestras of Virginia Beach, Montgomery, Alabama and Cambridge, England. His compositions have been performed at the American Dance Festival among other venues. For nineteen years, Schaeffer was an adjunct professor at North Carolina Wesleyan College in the departments of business and philosophy.
About the Center for Contemporary Opera
For more than three decades, the CCO has been the leading opera company devoted exclusively to the development and production of modern operas, seen in both the United States and abroad producing a remarkable body of work including staging some 59 contemporary operas including more than 15 premieres as well as 55 operas in development.
Founded in 1982 by Richard Marshall and Robert Ward, CCO continues its mission to produce and develop new opera and music-theater works; revive rarely seen American operas written after World War II; promote an interest in new operatic and music-theater culture among the public; and to produce contemporary opera outside of the United States. The Center for Contemporary Opera has also produced seven commercial recordings, and seven European performances – the most recent in December 2016 of a Louis Andriessen double bill of Odysseus’ Women and Anaïs Nin staged in Amsterdam
Eric Salzman, CCO’s Composer in Residence, died suddenly of a heart attack related to dialysis on November 12, 2017. He served CCO for many years and was a wonderful human being. Our sympathies go to his wife Lorna, and daughters Eva and Stephanie. As more details are known, we will pass them on.