Arizona Opera
Joseph Specter

The Arizona Opera Board of Directors has announced the appointment of its new President and General Director, Joseph Specter.

Currently the General Director for Austin Opera, Specter successfully led the $3.8 million company through a significant era of growth, overseeing a 30 percent increase in its annual operating budget while maintaining complete fiscal solvency.

He successfully lead an effort to raise over $1.6 million in funds for multi-year and project-specific commitments over and above the company’s giving base. He also led Austin Opera through a strategic rebranding process to increase its visibility and connection to the community.

Trained as a singer at the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Specter appeared in over 20 operatic and musical theater roles during his time as a singer. Joe also holds a degree in political science from Tufts University.

Prior to joining Austin Opera, Joe served as Director of Institutional Relations at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he stewarded a portfolio of over 100 institutional funders. He was tapped to lead Austin Opera due to his impressive track record of fundraising and his passion for advocating for the future of opera.

Like Arizona Opera, the Texas company has endeavored to balance the presentation of challenging works alongside traditional repertoire to develop new audiences and funders. Specter’s dedication to American opera includes the presentation of Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men in the current season, as well as the new work by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Kevin Puts, The Manchurian Candidate, scheduled for Austin’s upcoming 2016/17 Season.

“Joe has that unique formula of possessing both an operatic background as an artist, as well as the fundraising and entrepreneurial skills of a successful manager. Through running an opera company in Austin, one of the great music meccas in the United States, he is on the forefront of the exciting revolution that is happening in opera to develop new audiences and repertoire. It is the unanimous opinion among staff and board that Joe is ideally suited to lead Arizona Opera and build on the great enthusiasm we have developed through our Arizona Bold artistic initiative,” Robert Tancer, chair, Arizona Opera Board of Directors.

“I am honored to join Arizona Opera and am incredibly grateful for the support of the staff and board. The company has accomplished so much in recent years-in particular, the launch of Arizona Bold. I am committed to continuing that excellent work, focusing on the company’s artistic vitality and, most importantly, serving the wonderful communities that make all of it possible,” Joe Specter, president and general director, Arizona Opera.

Specter will take the helm of Arizona Opera beginning July 1, 2016.  He takes over for General Director Ryan Taylor who successfully guided the company through a critical time and recently transitioned to Minnesota Opera to lead its $10 million operation.

“I have known Joe Specter for many years and am excited to learn of his appointment to Arizona Opera. He is widely respected in our field, and is an accomplished leader who conducts himself with honor and skill. I am confident that he will be a strong leader that will help lift Arizona’s cultural community to new heights, and I wish him and the opera many congratulations and much success!” Ryan Taylor, president and general director, Minnesota Opera.

Joe was born in Columbia, Maryland, and raised in Miami, Florida, before moving to the Northeast for his studies and professional singing pursuits. He comes to Arizona with his wife of 11 years, Kate, and their two daughters, Sophie (8years old) and Charlotte (4 years old).