Under Dickie's leadership, COT, which was founded in 1974, moved from the Athenaeum in Lakeview to Millennium Park's Harris Theater, and made a mark for itself as an innovative, high-quality producer of smaller scale 17th, 18th, and 20th century work. Mitisek, who started at LBO as principal conductor in 1998 and became director there in 2004, is likely to ramp up the innovation. Long Beach Opera is known for edgy and unconventional work, including site-specific productions in parking garages and a warehouse. The theme for its 2012 season is "Absurd, Bizarre, Surreal."
COT, which broke even in 2006, ran deficits the next several years. Board chair Gregory O'Leary says that after paying some down, the company is still carrying debt of about $500,000. The operating budget has been cut from over $3 million in 2009 to $2.4 million, O'Leary says. He expects "synergies" from the new, collaborative arrangement to yield practical as well as artistic benefits for both companies.
Mitisek was selected from an original field of 27 candidates. "He has the smarts, energy, and, given technology, the capability to do this," O'Leary says. "And he has a wonderful artistic vision."