Green Light at the Skylight
New director takes charge
Â An important new voice has been added to the Skylight
with the recent appointment of Eric Dillner as the new managing director.
Dillner arrives from a successful tenure with the Shreveport Opera, where he
served as both general and artistic director. Dillner replaces Christopher
Libby, who has accepted a similar position with the Vancouver Opera Association
Â Founded in 1959, the Skylight produces opera, musical
theater and cabaret at the
Â Though Dillner was hired as the top administrator,
his credentials include impressive achievement as a professional singer, vocal
coach and stage director. He recently directed a production of La Traviata in
Reaching the Public
Â Expanding the audience base is another goal for
Dillner. âThe Skylight has a top-notch education department that has engaged
students,â says Dillner. âI would like to expand the department to reach the
retirement community, many of who have supported the arts throughout their
lives. Now that some live in communal facilities or may no longer drive, we
need to outreach to them.â While in
Â Though new to the job, Dillner is aware of Skylightâs esteemed reputation. âIâve heard great things about the company for years, plus Iâve been a long time friend of Chris Libby. I recognize the amazing talent here, including Artistic Director Bill Theisen, Principal Conductor Richard Carsey and Music Director Jamie Johns. Any house would be thrilled to have one of them; we have the great fortune to have all three. I am also extremely lucky in that I am joining an organization that has a passionate, committed staff and a spectacular board of directors. Our board members are hands on, generous with money, time and effort.â
Â As a tenor, Dillner has performed operatic roles and has appeared as soloist with several orchestras, including the Milwaukee Symphony. âWhen I was a guest of the MSO,â Dillner says, âI felt an immediate connection to the city. I called my wife, telling her that this was the coolest town. She joined me and we loved how this city offers and prides itself on high-quality art forms.â Dillner is married to Susan Yankee, a professional singer and voice teacher. They have a five-year-old son.
Â Current artistic director Bill Theisen is enthusiastic about his new colleague. âIt took us eight months, but we found the perfect fit. Eric knows both the business side and the musical repertory, plus he is an incredible people person. Audiences will get a chance to meet him later this month when we open the final production of our current season, The Spitfire Grill.
Â âNext season we open with La Bohème, which hasnât been done here in over 40 years, and we close with the Pirates ofPenzance,â says Theisen. âWe are very excited that Skylight is one of just a few regional companies that has been given permission rights to stage the musical The Producers. For the future, I hope to continue to bring contemporary, relevant American opera to the Skylight stage.âDillner joins the Skylight just in time to help plan their 50th anniversary season. âI hope to bring back some of the performers who have graced our stage in the pastâsort of a living retrospective,â says Dillner. âWorks by Mozart and Gilbert & Sullivan are being considered, as both have been staples of the Skylight repertory since the beginning. But, I canât do this alone. I am a collaborator with the community. I want to hear everyoneâs ideasâthe more people that communicate their passions, the better.â