David DiChiera Reflects on His Career, Art, and Cyrano, Ahead of Retirement

Jake Neher/WDET

The upcoming production of Cyrano will be preformed at the Michigan Opera Theater this weekend. David DiChiera, founder and director of the Michigan Opera Theatre, is retiring at the end of this season and his opera Cyrano will help close out his esteemed career at the Opera House. The company will also put on a Grand Salute concert honoring DiChiera on May 19th, the Friday before Cyrano’s final weekend.

DiChiera joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to discuss his inspiration for creating Cyrano, his career, and about founding of the Michigan Opera Theatre without much money or fanfare.

He discusses the beginning of his career in the 1960s when he was at Oakland University and was touring around promoting opera as an art form, which transitioned to 1971 when he made the decision to found an opera company. He says that their first season had a modest budget of $80,000. 

I think there were a lot of people who were kind of excited,” DiChiera says about the reception of the first season, “there were many who were familiar with opera, then others who by presenting it were curious to see whether this was an art form that they would relate to.” 

DiChiera pioneered the idea of taking an old building in Detroit and restoring it, as he did when he moved from Music Hall to the building that became the Detroit Opera House. However, he discusses the challenges he faced in doing this just four years after the Detroit rebellion in 1967 when many expected him to move is company to the suburbs. 

He also discusses the process of creating Cyrano, as well as the future of the Michigan Opera Theatre.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation. 

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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