TCO names new general director

By Barb Van Atta
Tri-Cities Opera’s board of directors will host a press conference July 24 to introduce TCO’s new general director, Susan Shiplett Ashbaker. The resident artist roster for the 2014-2015 season also will be announced at the event, which starts at 10 a.m. at the Opera Center, 315, Clinton St., Binghamton.
Ashbaker will replace Reed Smith, who resigned Feb. 25 as general director. Smith recently was hired as executive director of Anchorage Opera in Alaska.
Ashbaker has had more than 30 years of experience in the performing arts, including 16 years with the Opera Company of Philadelphia (now Opera Philadelphia), the last 11 as Director of Artistic and Music Administration. She is active in the opera and vocal world as an independent artistic advisor/consultant, master class presenter, lecturer and vocal coach.
According to Ashbaker’s website (, under her leadership, Opera Company of Philadelphia established an intern program with The Curtis Institute of Music, also in Philadelphia. She was on the Curtis faculty from 1993 to 2010.
Ashbaker has been a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and has worked as an assistant conductor and vocal coach with the New York City Opera, European Center for Opera and Vocal Arts (Belgium), New Israeli Vocal Arts Institute, International Vocal Arts Institute (Montreal), Theater am Goetheplatz (Bremen, Germany) and the Academy of Vocal Arts (Philadelphia). This “wide range of experiences on both sides of the opera and music industry,” she says on her website, gives her “a rare and comprehensive approach to the key elements of musical excellence, tradition and innovation, and career advancement for singers and pianists.”
For more information about Tri-Cities Opera and the 2014-2015 season, visit