Managing Director of Cape Town Opera

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Managing Director of Cape Town Opera Elise Brunelle will be leaving South Africa after 16 years of progressive leadership with South Africa’s premier opera company. Brunelle leaves for family reasons to return to her home country of the United States where she will also take up a new arts leadership position.  

Brunelle began her tenure with Cape Town Opera as its Fundraiser, helping secure a R1 million contribution to its endowment fund within her first month of employment and expanding the breadth of patrons and grant funders over the next five years. She was appointed as Financial Manager in 2007 and guided the company’s increasingly complex financial and human resource portfolios as it tripled its turnover and expanded touring programmes abroad. In 2018, Brunelle was appointed as Managing Director and has overseen the company’s expanded footprint to the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa and annual opera season in Cape Town, broadened its Youth Development and Education programme, and steadied company finances with significant new sponsorships and partnerships both at home and abroad.

Brunelle says, ‘This incredible company is the heart and soul of opera in South Africa. I am honoured to have worked side-by-side with so many talented artists, to have befriended individuals from around the world who sponsor our work and educational programmes, and to have been a part of keeping opera alive in this singularly unique country. I am happy that Cape Town Opera is on a very sound financial and artistic footing.’

‘Cape Town Opera bids a sad farewell to Elise, a dynamic Managing Director who has distinguished herself in her unwavering commitment to CTO. Elise’s legacy is the strong upward trajectory of the company which has grown in confidence under her superb leadership, and which is agile and ready to embrace new horizons. We wish Elise great success in her future career.  As we begin our search for a new Managing Director, the Cape Town Opera Board is very pleased to announce the appointment of Africa Melane as Interim Managing Director starting 1 July 2020. Africa brings sound business acumen and astute insight into exactly what CTO needs during this interim period,’ said Susan Smith, Board Chair for Cape Town Opera.

Melane adds, ‘Cape Town Opera is a shining light for this most precious art form in our country and on our continent. Its success in recent years can most certainly be attributed to the sterling leadership of Elise. It will be a great honour and a wonderful challenge to continue the work in her stead.’ 

At this time of unfamiliar and striking global challenges, Cape Town Opera remains both artistically and financially stable. The company is embarking on a variety of new, innovative projects aimed for broadcast that are in line with COVID-19 safety protocols. These projects illustrate South Africa’s phenomenal artistic talent working within these challenges and expands CTO’s reach to both opera-loving audiences as well as young, aspiring singers from its partner schools. CTO’s Artistic Director Matthew Wild will announce these projects next week.