Fort Worth Opera seeks new leader after departure of Woods

Not a political opera: Casey Finnigan as Nikita Krushchev, center, and Matthew Worth as JFK, in white T-shirt, center right, in a dream sequence from the new opera "JFK" at the Fort Worth Opera. CREDIT: Karen Almond.

The Fort Worth Opera has parted ways with longtime general director Darren K. Woods, officials from the board of directors announced Monday night.

A national search process will start shortly to find a new general director, the board said in a news release.

The news release points to economic issues presenting “unique challenges that call for a fresh perspective and an innovative approach to an aging business model.”

Woods has been in charge of the opera for 16 years, reinvigorating the company with new programs and installing a festival-style program that opened the Fort Worth Opera to new audiences and critical acclaim.

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In a news release the board of directors said: “After months of discussion, the Board of Directors has decided the best thing for all parties is to build on the artistic foundation we have forged together while allowing each of us to grow and meet new challenges.”

“As Georgia O’Keefe once said, ‘To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage,” said Nelson E. Claytor, president of the Fort Worth Opera’s Board of Directors. “We have a better world and a better community because of Darren’s courage in bringing Angels in America and Silent Night to Fort Worth, and in creating JFK in Fort Worth. Rest assured that Fort Worth Opera will move forward courageously with a commitment to this magnificent art form that is as passionate as ever.”

Arts organizations in Fort Worth – as well as around the country – have found themselves facing difficult financial issues. Recently the Fort Worth Symphony faced a three-month strike as musicians sought a pay raise. The strike ended with the help of an anonymous donor who stepped forward with a gift of $700,000 and federal mediation.