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caption: New Seattle Opera General Director Christina Schepplemann
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New Seattle Opera General Director Christina Schepplemann
Credit: photo courtesy Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera names first woman director in its 56-year history

Seattle Opera has named a new director.

In August, Christina Schepplemann will take the reins from outgoing general director Aidan Lang, becoming the fourth leader in the opera company’s 56-year history.

She will be only the second woman in the country to head artistic decision-making at a major American opera company.

Schepplemann’s opera career started when she sang in a children’s chorus as a young girl in Germany. Schepplmann, who is a Richard Wagner fan, says as a 9-year old she performed in a production of Wagner’s “Parsifal.”

“I sang his work before I ever saw it from the audience," she says.

The incoming director acknowledges Seattle Opera’s Wagnerian roots, which date back to founding artistic director Glynn Ross. And although Schepplemann won’t make any promises, she doesn't rule out new Seattle productions of the composer’s epic four-opera Ring Cycle – news that should delight the region's many Ring fans.

Schepplemann holds dual citizenships: German and American. She’s worked at several U.S. companies, including San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C., where she created a program to develop new composer talent. Schepplemann says she’s found Americans to be much more enthusiastic about new operas than European audiences.

In fact, Schepplemann hopes contemporary work will resonate with Seattle’s growing tech community. “It’s a matter of taste,” Schepplemann says, “but I think anybody can get the bug and find that it speaks to them.”