WGO Directors Bakardiev & Pent Announce Plans to Retire

Wednesday, February 1 2017 6:00 PM
  News Release
For Immediate Release
January 31, 2017
Parvan Bakardiev, General Director                 WichitaGrandOpera.org                 Margaret Ann Pent, Artistic Director
Century II Performing Arts Center, 225 W. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67202
Contact: Tony Applegate | Tel: (316) 262-8054 | Email: marketing@wichitagrandopera.org
          WICHITA, KS (January 31, 2017) Wichita Grand Opera President and CEO Parvan Bakardiev and Founder & Artistic Director Margaret Ann Pent announce today that they plan to retire on January 1, 2019, completing 18 years after founding the WGO in November 2000. Bakardiev, who will be 73 when he retires from WGO, will be concluding a 40-year international opera career as an Impresario, producer, CEO, and opera singer. Pent, who will be 75 when she retires from WGO, will be concluding a 40-year international opera career as a principal opera singer, stage director, production designer, and general manager.
          “This spring, we’re very excited to bring our audience one old favorite, one new favorite, and one great social event,” said WGO President & CEO Parvan Bakardiev. The Sleeping Beauty is widely regarded as one of the best of the great classical ballets thanks to its combination of virtuosic dancing and glorious music.
          Bakardiev stated, “When I was appointed WGO President and CEO at its inception in 2000, I set out to build it from the ground up as a professional and successful opera company in the State of Kansas. My goal was to produce high quality traditional, popular, and rarely produced operas to offer to the local and regional communities. As we grew, I included classical ballet and opera galas to the performance seasons giving audiences the opportunity to experience beautiful and glorious performing arts productions that had not previously been available in Kansas, in the tradition of major opera companies in Europe and the United States. The extraordinary work of our founding Artistic Director and the management staff have helped solidify WGO’s standing as one of the premier opera companies in the Midwest, which has been a very rewarding achievement.”
          Commenting on Bakardiev and Pent’s leadership and achievements, Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Dennis Ross, praised their many accomplishments and legacy. “The City of Wichita and the State of Kansas has benefited greatly from their artistic vision and financial stewardship, especially during the recent great recession. They brought many remarkable innovations and creativity in our community and opera industry. During the first and second seasons, they featured two of the greatest opera stars in the entertainment world. Luciano Pavarotti made his Kansas debut at the Kansas Coliseum with the newly established WGO Orchestra, followed by the Pavarotti Opera Ball, and Placido Domingo made his Kansas debut at Century II, followed by the Domingo Opera Ball.”
          Other major initiatives they created during their tenure were: the establishment of Opera on the Lake, ala the Bregenz Opera Festival; the filming of WGO’s 60 productions, which reach globally on YouTube 1.25 million viewers in 200 countries, and has distinguished the WGO from many others; rarely produced operas such as Rossini’s William Tell, Verdi’s Don Carlo, and Offenbach’s The Grand Duchess; new productions starring Kansas natives and world-renowned opera stars, Samuel Ramey and Joyce DiDonato; collaborations with Josh Groban and Celtic Woman; establishment of the Opera Academy of the Midwest to train aspiring young opera singers; and the establishment of the WGO Touring Program which takes full productions to cities throughout Kansas, making opera available to a wide variety of audiences, and enriching the lives of Kansans who have never had the opportunity to enjoy live opera.

          Parvan Bakardiev announces today that he has selected Edward Lada to take on the position of General Director & COO as of February 1, 2017.

          Lada joined the WGO staff in June 2007 as Music Administrator. His love of opera began in college, he explains. “Wichita didn’t have an opera company when I left for college. The first opera I experienced was from the orchestra pit, playing for a production of L’Elisir d’Amore. What stuck with me was seeing the whole piece come to life – as Adina, the leading soprano, sang her first aria while flirting with the guys in the chorus. Seeing so many different things happening on stage while the focus stays on the gorgeous music composed by Donizetti, is an experience you just can’t get from a recording. Live opera is like no other art form out there.”

          In the spring of 2009 he took a sabbatical from WGO to return to the University of Oklahoma to complete his Masters Degree in Conducting. Lada then returned to WGO in September 2010. In addition to serving as Music Administrator, Bakardiev hired him to serve as Development Coordinator. He has also conducted four WGO productions during his tenure. “While serving as Development Coordinator Edward Lada has developed a unique perspective in fundraising, learning why people give to opera and how to articulate the needs of the company to potential individual and institutional donors,” Bakardiev said.

Having been mentored by President & CEO Parvan Bakardiev in the fields of fundraising, marketing, finance, management, audience development, public relations, artistic administration, and engaging the community, during his eight and half years with WGO, he has prepared him for serving in this new capacity of General Director. “Mr. Bakardiev and Ms. Pent have provided invaluable guidance, and I’m honored by their confidence and support in me as I move into this expanded role of serving as WGO’s General Director,” Lada said.
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