Opera Saratoga Announces Retirement of Patty Finnerty and Appointment of Two New Members to Senior Staff

Lawrence Edelson, Artistic and General Director of Opera Saratoga, announced today the appointment of two new members of the organization's senior staff: Jonathan Blalock will join the company as Development and Patron Services Manager, effective December 4, 2017; and Charla Jeanne Lawson will become Opera Saratoga's new Company Manager, effective January 2, 2018. In addition, the company has announced the upcoming retirement of Patty Finnerty, who has been an integral part of Opera Saratoga for over 20 years, as of January 12, 2018.

Jonathan Blalock joins Opera Saratoga after serving for one year as the Chief Operating Officer at Roven Records, where he worked with the CEO to develop a strategic 3-year plan, including new recording projects, online web-based programming and a distribution/marketing strategy. Jonathan is also the founder of Blalock Branding, a media consulting firm for the performing arts. As a branding consultant, he has earned a reputation for quick results strengthening the positioning and revenue generation of organizations including On Site Opera, The American Pops Orchestra and Candlelight Concert Society. Jonathan is a published author, and has been a frequent podcast host and public speaker for the arts. For ten years, Jonathan has been a leading operatic tenor specializing in twenty-first century music. He has originated nearly two-dozen roles in world premieres with companies including The Dallas Opera, Washington National Opera, the PROTOTYPE Festival and Fort Worth Opera. One of his enduring passions has been connecting with patrons, communities and audience members; he looks forward to continuing and deepening this goal in his new full-time role at Opera Saratoga. Blalock has been living in New York City and will now reside in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Charla Jeanne Lawson joins Opera Saratoga from Townsend Opera in Modesto, California. Charla started working with Townsend Opera as a Production Assistant, working her way up to Artistic Administrator, and was most recently appointed Managing Director. She has also served as the Assistant Company Manager for West Edge Opera, an innovative summer festival company in Berkley, California. Charla is an alumna of California State University, Stanislaus having studied Flute Performance. She is a member of the DAR and an active alumna of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity, whose mission is to encourage, nurture, and support the art of music. She looks forward to relocating to Saratoga Springs, and sharing her passion for opera with the community. Lawson will be living in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Patty Finnerty first joined Lake George Opera in 1996 as a part-time administrative assistant, and has served in a wide variety of roles with the company over the past 21 years. She was appointed Director of Finance and Administration in 2005, a key role in the leadership of the company for the past 12 years. Patty helped to facilitate the company's move from Glens Falls to Saratoga Springs in 1998, and has been instrumental in strengthening Opera Saratoga's role in the region.

"Patty's retirement this season is the end of an era," said Edelson. "For over twenty years, she has been the heart and soul of Opera Saratoga, and I know I am not alone in saying she will be missed deeply. When I joined Opera Saratoga in 2014, Patty shared so much of the history of this great company with me, and without her commitment and passion, our recent program expansion would not have been possible. She has more than earned her retirement, and we all wish Patty well in this next chapter of her life."

"I have been honored to be a part of Lake George Opera and Opera Saratoga for so many years, and am grateful to my husband and my family for their understanding of how much time I've dedicated to the company. Now, I'm really looking forward to spending more time with my family, but it feels good to be able to retire knowing that the company is great hands," said Finnerty.

"Opera Saratoga has gone through some very challenging times," continued Finnerty. "But it has been very exciting to be part of the company's recent growth. From the expansion of the Summer Festival to the increased scope of year-round activities including the Opera-to-Go school tour and Saratoga Sings! programs, Opera Saratoga now serves more people than it ever has before. It also means a great deal to me that Opera Saratoga continues to have a presence in Lake George every year, honoring its historic roots. As the company continues to increase its investment in the region, I'm glad to know that the staff and the board have the support of Jonathan and Charla to build upon our recent successes and to ensure a strong and sustainable future."


Opera Saratoga, formerly known as Lake George Opera, began with a production of Die Fledermaus at the Diamond Point Theatre on July 5, 1962, playing to an audience of 230. The Company now calls Saratoga Springs home and performs for more than 25,000 people annually. Opera Saratoga serves the communities of Saratoga Springs, the Lower Adirondack and New York State Capital areas by providing access to world-class opera through the production of an annual Summer Festival, as well as year-round activities including extensive educational programs, mentorship of emerging operatic artists, and unique opportunities for the public to experience opera in both our home theater and non-traditional venues that leverage and embrace the unique cultural, historic, and natural resources of the area. To date, the Company has performed over 90 different fully-staged works by over 50 different composers, including thirty-three works by American composers and six world-premiere productions. In 2014, the Board of Directors appointed Lawrence Edelson Opera Saratoga's Artistic and General Director. Edelson's leadership marked a new chapter in the company's history, with increased emphasis on community partnerships throughout the year, diversification of the company's repertoire, and a reaffirmed commitment to both the presentation of American opera and the mentorship of emerging artists as core activities in the company's programs each season. The 2018 Summer Festival marks the fourth season under his leadership. For more information, visit www.operasaratoga.org.

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