David Bennett Named General Director Of San Diego Opera

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
By Angela Carone
Above: An undated photograph shows David Bennett, the new general director of the San Diego Opera who formerly led the Gotham Chamber Opera in New York City.

David Bennett, who led the Gotham Chamber Opera in New York City, will be the new general director of the San Diego Opera. He'll replace Ian Campbell, who left the company last summer after a reign that ended in tumult.

Bennett made his mark at the Gotham with bold, adventurous programming of rarely performed operas, sometimes in alternative venues. His appointment to lead the 50-year-old San Diego Opera signals a new course for the company, known for traditional grand opera.

That model was financially challenging and the reason Campbell gave for attempting to shut the company down in March 2014.

The opera board voted to approve the shutdown, then reversed course. Campbell and his chief fundraiser, Ann Spira Campbell, were placed on leave, half the board resigned and the company restructured.

After a successful fundraising push, the opera survived.

“After an exhaustive search from an incredible pool of well qualified candidates, the board decided overwhelmingly to select David Bennett as the company’s new General Director,” said opera board President Carol Lazier in a press release.

Lazier praised Bennett's commitment to diversity and his creative vision.

Gotham Chamber Opera Productions

"With David at the helm we are confident that San Diego Opera will become the opera company this city wants and deserves,” said Lazier.

Bennett will start his post June 15. According to U-T San Diego, he will make an annual salary of $200,000. That's significantly less than Campbell's last reported base salary of $432,520.

Bennett joined the Gotham Chamber Opera in 2006. He managed all areas of the Gotham opera, including the artistic and financial sides. At the San Diego Opera, he will oversee both but will focus on the company's artistic development.

At the Gotham, Bennett oversaw bold productions involving partnerships with other organizations.

A collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History and the American Repertory Theater included a production of Hadyn’s "Il mondo della luna." It featured a lunar exploration video developed by the museum and NASA and was projected on the Hayden Planetarium’s 180-degree dome.