Emerald City Opera to welcome new artistic director

Audrey Dwyer
The new Artistic Director of Emerald City Opera will be Andres Cladera. Since 2002, Keri Rusthoi has been the Artistic Director and founder of the nonprofit organization. She resigned due to her role to pursue other endeavors.
Courtesy Photo

— It can be tough for an individual to let go of something he or she created from the ground up.

For two individuals, they will say “goodbye” to something they left their mark on and “hello” to new opportunities.

Keri Rusthoi, the artistic director and founder of Emerald City Opera since 2002, has resigned from her role to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and other endeavors.

“I’m thrilled to have had such a wonderful success founding and running Emerald City Opera for 14 years with the help of so many folks in this amazing town,” Rusthoi said in an email earlier this week. “I have chosen to depart at a time when I feel that the leadership of Emerald City Opera’s Board of Trustees needs stronger oversight, which I can no longer provide.”

In a note to the Emerald City Opera Board of Trustees, Rusthoi said this is a decision she has been contemplating for some time.

Filling her role as artistic director of Emerald City Opera will be Andres Cladera. A Uruguay native and passionate music enthusiast, Cladera holds an extensive musical background and experience as the founder and artistic director of The Microscopic Opera Co. in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, among other ventures.

“It is a tough process to let go of something you created that is near and dear to your heart,” Cladera said.

However, Caldera always has wanted to take artistic leadership of a company that does a summer festival like the Steamboat Springs All Arts Festival.

In addition, he wanted to be part of an organization that helps shape young artists, similar to Emerald City Opera’s Artist Institute for Emerging Singers, which started in 2008 with Rusthoi’s vision and guidance. The mission of the program that still is in place, is to invite young and developing opera singers to Steamboat Springs for a four-week training program.

With Cladera’s passion for opera, singing, conducting, directing and education, Jack Dysart, chairman/CEO on the Board of Trustees, said Caldera is a great fit for Emerald City Opera.

“He will have a different approach and he also has a lot ideas that will enable us to expand and do things a little differently,” Dysart said.

One of the philosophies Rusthoi engrained in Emerald City Opera through all events and programs was artistic excellence.

“It’s a philosophy that guided what we would or wouldn’t do and that’s why she hired amazing professionals who were nationally known,” Dysart said. “She’s left a legacy that is bigger than any of us.”

Hoping to carry on that legacy, Caldera said he will give the opera new programming and create new collaborations to think “outside the box” for what the opera can do in the future.

“I think by bringing incredible talent to work with young artists, incorporating innovative programing not performed anywhere else, are a few of the elements that will bring Emerald City Opera national and international notoriety,” Caldera said.

Although he and the board already started planning for the summer programs and events, Caldera officially will start his new role in Steamboat Springs next week.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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