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St. Louis taps Washington National Opera executive as its next opera director

Andrew Jorgensen, Washington National Opera’s director of artistic planning and operations, will take over in July as general director of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. (Cassidy DuHon)

The Opera Theatre of St. Louis has named its next general director: Andrew Jorgensen, the director of artistic planning and operations at the Washington National Opera, who has been serving as the company’s interim executive director.

It’s a neat switch, because WNO announced in September that on July 1 St. Louis’s current general director, Timothy O’Leary, will become its next general director.

It’s also a wonderful opportunity for Jorgensen, 34, to spread his wings. Jorgensen, who was unanimously chosen by the executive committee of the St. Louis board, worked for five seasons at the Metropolitan Opera before coming to WNO in 2012.

If he seems young to take over a prestigious post, he has precedent: O’Leary was 32 when he took over the position 10 years ago.

In Washington, Jorgensen worked with Francesca Zambello on casting of such highlights as the 2016 “Ring” cycle and “Appomattox,” as well as the new operas commissioned for the annual American Opera Initiative.

Jorgensen will only be the fourth leader in St. Louis’s 43-year history, after the founding director Richard Gaddes and his successor Charles MacKay, both of whom subsequently led the Santa Fe Opera.

The company, which presents its season in May and June, is known for contemporary work, including important revivals — 27 world premieres and 27 American premieres to date — and for performing everything in English. This season, from May 19 to June 24, features “La traviata,” Marc Blitzstein’s “Regina,” Christoph Gluck’s “Orfeo and Euridice,” and what’s billed as the world premiere of Huang Ruo’s “An American Soldier” — an expanded version of an opera that began as a one-hour work commissioned by the Washington National Opera and performed there in 2014. At the end of the season, O’Leary will come to Washington, and Jorgensen will take over.