Detroit Opera President, CEO Wayne Brown to Step Down in 2024

Wayne Brown

DETROIT — Detroit Opera President and CEO Wayne S. Brown has announced his intention to step down from his current position at the end of the 2023–24 season.

During his tenure, Brown guided the company through the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, secured record-breaking financial grants and gifts, and, with the recruitment and hiring of director Yuval Sharon, oversaw Detroit Opera’s evolution from a strong regional company to the premier destination for progressive opera in America.  

“It’s time,” Brown said. “This marks my 50th year in the business. For me, this is about the completion of a significant cycle: my professional career right after graduating from the University of Michigan began with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and after several decades at symphony orchestras and the National Endowment for the Arts, Detroit called me back in 2014, when I became President and CEO of Michigan Opera Theatre, now Detroit Opera.

“My time at Detroit Opera has been particularly meaningful; since its founding, this company has always been defined by creativity and innovation, generated by the city that embraces it,” he added. “I’m pleased to observe that the forward-thinking, inclusive, risk-taking approach of Detroit Opera is becoming a model for other opera companies in the U.S. My time at Detroit Opera has been an opportunity to celebrate and embrace a more expanded view of what opera means today, and I cannot wait to see what the company has to offer in the years to come.”

Brown was named President and CEO of Detroit Opera — then known as Michigan Opera Theatre — in 2014, at which time the company’s founder, Dr. David DiChiera, stepped down to the role of Artistic Director.

Brown continued to work closely with DiChiera, who remained the company’s artistic director until his 2017 retirement, and led signature productions such as Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Frida (a fully sold-out production staged throughout Metro Detroit to reach out to new audiences) and Mieczyslaw Weinberg and Alexander Medvedev’s opera The Passenger, about the Holocaust.

Ahead of the 2020–21 season — the 50th since the company’s founding — Brown spearheaded efforts to chart a new course for Detroit Opera’s next 50 years with a brand-new artistic team. Building on DiChiera’s vision for the company as a center for high-quality, accessible opera in the heart of Detroit, the company’s leadership team, led by Board Chair Ethan Davidson, recruited Yuval Sharon to become the Gary L. Wasserman Artistic Director of Detroit Opera.

Since then, Brown and Sharon have worked together to transform Detroit Opera into the destination for progressive opera in the United States, creating an ambitious new standard for American opera that emphasizes community, accessibility, artistic risk-taking, and collaboration. 

In 2022, the company changed its name from Michigan Opera Theatre to Detroit Opera, to honor the city it calls home and renew its commitment to the community that had supported it for 50 years.

“I acknowledge and remain committed to David DiChiera’s dedication to this community, and I am thrilled that Yuval Sharon has affirmed that goal as reflected in part by the name change to Detroit Opera in 2022,” Brown said. “The kind of innovation that began many decades ago continues in full force today, and I could not be more proud of what this company has achieved.”