Speight Jenkins said a fond farewell to Seattle Opera
last year after more than three decades at the helm, but he isn't quite out of the limelight yet.
Seattle Opera's 78-year-old former General Director, who was known worldwide for his dedication to Richard Wagner's works
and for his 'Green' Ring
cycle, journeyed to London this week to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the third-annual International Opera Awards
Jenkins will speak about the award and about his Seattle Opera tenure on UK's BBC3 Radio
at about 7am Pacific Time on Monday, April 27.
Pacific Northwest opera fans will always remember Speight's unique taste, demand for excellence, and youthful exuberance during the 31 years he led Seattle Opera. Before he said goodbye, Jenkins mounted a memorable, internationally-praised production of the entire Ring cycle. The next summer, a huge handful of big solo names in opera came together
to perform and speak at his farewell celebration.
Jenkins is unique in the realm of opera directors: before he came to Seattle Opera, he'd never produced or performed an opera. Instead, the native Texan attended Columbia Law School, served in the U.S. Army, and became a successful music writer in New York City. For years, his words appeared in Opera News
and the New York Post
, and his voice went out over the airwaves on the show Live at the Metropolitan Opera
. In 1983, after Seattle Opera's board members heard him give a series of guest lectures on the Ring
, they took a risk and offered him the job of General Director.
When it comes to past winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Jenkins is in good company. Last year, Gerard Mortier
received the award posthumously for his work directing opera companies all over North America and Europe. In 2013, the prestigious award was given to Sir George Christie
, who ran operations at the Glyndebourne opera house for 40 years, carrying its famous summer festival into the modern age.