Center for Contemporary Opera, New York, Announces New Chief Executive Officer
March 5, 2008, Chapel Hill, NC: Richard Marshall, Founding and General Director of The Center for Contemporary Opera (CCO) in New York City, has announced that James E. Schaeffer, Executive Director of Long Leaf Opera (LLO), located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has been named CCO’s new Chief Executive Officer. Schaeffer will retain his position with Long Leaf Opera and serve in both capacities. The announcement was made at CCO’s 25th Anniversary Gala, which also featured excerpts of Michael Dellaira’s newest work Secret Agent with libretto by J.D. McClatchy in late February at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater in New York City.
The 54 year old Schaeffer was selected by the Center’s Executive Committee and will succeed Richard Marshall after 25 years of service. Schaeffer will assume his new role as CEO on March 18, 2008.
For the past quarter century, the Center for Contemporary Opera has assisted composers of opera and music theater by presenting works at all stages of development in readings, workshops and full productions on the professional stage. In addition it has helped to educate the public about contemporary opera through panel discussions and colloquia, and through its bi-annual newsletter Opera Today. Since its inception, CCO has performed 48 works, including 18 world premieres.
Speaking at the gala, Marc A. Scorca, President of the national organization OPERA America, remarked, “The Center for Contemporary Opera is one of the visionary organizations that took action 25 years ago to increase the number and quality of new American operas. Today, we have an established and growing canon of American operas thanks to their unwavering dedication to a most worthy cause.”
“We feel we have chosen a gifted leader who will nurture this vibrant organization’s growth,” said outgoing director Richard Marshall.
CCO Artistic Director Eric Salzman called Schaeffer ideal to carry CCO’s artistic mission forward. “Jim is an accomplished leader with strong industry-wide knowledge on the national opera scene. A most fortuitous joint project between the CCO and Long Leaf Opera to commission CCO Composer-in Residence Michael Dellaira’s Secret Agent brought Jim our way.”
Schaeffer notes that the opera world is very fortunate to have such a great resource. “As the oldest organization of its type, CCO hold a special position of respect of in the opera community.
Schaeffer adds, “I am enthusiastically looking forward to leading CCO’s in its next 25 years. We have an important mission and I am proud to be a part of this.”
Since October 2005, Schaeffer has been leading Long Leaf Opera…, the country’s only opera company dedicated to fully staged operas originally written in English and highlighting American composers.
A retired Air Force senior officer, Schaeffer served in a variety of flying, logistics and command assignments while on active duty, includ[ing] command of the largest base supply-chain organization in the world. 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 Vice President of Trouvere, Inc., of Cambridge, MA, and president of Spectron Electronics, Los Angeles. He is also on the Board of Directors of Sonus Research and Design, Providence, RI.
He was the conductor of the Goldsboro (North Carolina) Orchestra and principal bassoonist of the orchestras of Virginia Beach, Montgomery (AL), and Cambridge, England. His compositions have been performed at the American Dance Festival among other venues.
Schaeffer holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in HR Management/Organizational Development from Webster University, St. Louis. For the past nine years, Schaeffer has been an adjunct professor of business at North Carolina Wesleyan College.
About the Center for Contemporary Opera:
The CCO is a performing arts organization devoted to the development and production of new opera and music theater works and, working with a community of artists and a committed public, to the development and encouragement of a new operatic and music-theater culture in this country.
About Long Leaf Opera:
Founded in 1998, Long Leaf Opera (LLO) is a professional, non-profit organization dedicated to works written for the operatic stage in English. Long Leaf Opera specifically highlights American composers but also encourages the production of works from around the world. It commissions new works and actively recruits new talent.
(Arts news prepared by Allison Savicz, Media Relations, Long Leaf Opera)


NCCU Associate Professor Karen Dacons-Brock Wins Directing Honors
March 3. 2008, Durham, NC: Karen Dacons-Brock, associate professor of theatre at North Carolina Central University has received the 2007 Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Direction from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) at the festival’s region IV conference in Clemson, South Carolina.
The award was given for her direction of the play Lonely Words, by Howard L. Craft, which was produced at North Carolina Central University during the summer and fall of 2007. Lonely Words focused on the subject of HIV/AIDS and was the fifth in a series of summer plays produced through the collaborative efforts of the EXPORT Outreach Research Program of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute (JLC-BBRI) and the Department of Theatre. These plays have sought to reduce health disparities among African Americans in the broader Triangle community. They are funded by a grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD).
The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival is a national program that involves 18,000 students from 600 colleges and universities around the nation.
The goals of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival are:
“To encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs; to provide opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight; and achieve professionalism; to improve the quality of college and university theater in America; to encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays, especially those written by students; the classics, revitalized or newly conceived; and experimental works.”
(News item courtesy of NCCU Public Relations)