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avatar for Susan Ashbaker

Susan Ashbaker

Tri-Cities Opera Co., Inc.
General & Artistic Director
Binghamton, NY
Susan Shiplett Ashbaker, General & Artistic Director for Tri-Cities Opera, brings over 30 years of experience in the performing arts. She is active in the opera and vocal world as an artistic advisor/consultant, master class presenter, lecturer, and an opera/vocal coach. Her experience on both sides of the opera industry gives her a rare and comprehensive approach to the key elements of career advancement for singers as well as a unique vantage point in the administration of opera companies, arts organizations and institutions of higher learning.

In the short amount of time that Ms. Ashbaker has been at the helm of Tri-Cities Opera she has been successful with increased funding from foundations, securing over $400,000 in new foundation funding. Upon her arrival, she immediately added two chamber productions to the 2014/2015 season at the Tri-Cities Opera Center: Poulenc’s La voix humaine (in English) and Michael Ching’s recently written opera, Speed Dating Tonight! The 2015/2016 season was then restructured for more variety. Two productions at the Forum Theater (Barber of Seville and Sweeney Todd) bookended 2 chamber operas, Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and a double bill with orchestra of The Telephone & Trouble in Tahiti. The 2015/2016 season included 3 Tri-Cities Opera premieres. In 2016/2017 the season included two beloved favorites and three TCO premieres: La traviata, Hansel and Gretel, L’heure espagnole & Brettl Lieder, and Hydrogen Jukebox. The upcoming season includes La bohème, Glory Denied, and La tragédie de Carmen (the last 2 titles TCO premieres). A new logo and website design were unveiled in the spring of 2015 to much excitement. A “Twitter Zone” and “Family Zone” were added allow thumb happy patrons to tweet selfies and hashtag their experience from their silenced and flash free mobile devices and children to use silent electronic devices when their attention span wanes. The Opera Center has completed Phase 1 of a multi-phase renovation project, funded entirely by grants and targeted donations.

Ms. Ashbaker was affiliated with the Opera Company of Philadelphia for 16 years, the last 11 as Director of Artistic and Music Administration, leading the casting practices and reestablishing the Company as a pioneer in identifying and offering opportunities to young singers before they achieved national or international recognition, giving new and unique opportunities to well established artists, as well as supervising all activities of the Artistic and Music Departments. Under her leadership, OCP established an intern program with The Curtis Institute of Music. In addition, she has worked as assistant conductor and vocal coach with the New York City Opera, European Center for Opera and Vocal Arts (Belgium), International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv and Montreal, Theater am Goetheplatz (Bremen, Germany), the Academy of Vocal Arts, and was on the faculty of The Curtis Institute of Music from 1993-2010.

Ms. Ashbaker has been Artistic Advisor for The CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College, a program designed to help young singers prepare for acceptance into an advanced young artist or summer apprentice program, since it’s inception in 2005. In addition to that role, she is one of the Master Vocal Coaches and Master Class presenters for the program. In January 2015, Ms. Ashbaker was the Music Director for the CoOPERAtive production of L’elisir d’amore. This past season alone, CoOPERAtive singers have been accepted to or hired by Houston Grand Opera, the Merola Program, Washington National Opera, Santa Fe, and Glimmerglass Opera, Utah Opera, among many others. Ms. Ashbaker is an Adjunct Professor at Westminster Choir College of Rider University and Visiting Assistant Professor at Binghamton University.