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Syracuse Opera executive director departs for new job; opera also suspends 2020 productions

By Eric Reinhardt (


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse Opera has an opening in its executive director position and has also decided to suspend productions for the rest of 2020.

That’s according to a recent letter the organization sent to friends of the Syracuse Opera.

Lisa Smith, who served as executive director of the Syracuse Opera, is now the executive director of the Central and Northern New York chapter of the American Red Cross. It’s a newly created executive director position that stemmed from the recent realignment of the Eastern New York region, Dan Hartman, regional communications program manager of the American Red Cross, tells CNYBJ in an email. Smith, who started her new role June 29, is responsible for overseeing operations in the Syracuse, Watertown, and Utica communities.

Smith will continue to be involved with the Syracuse Opera.

“Lisa’s talents have been an incredible asset to Syracuse Opera and as busy as she will be starting her new adventure, she has graciously agreed to join the [Syracuse Opera] board of directors. Her continued involvement with the company will provide continuity as we plan for our future and we thank her for her continued commitment and dedication,” per the Syracuse Opera letter.

The organization called its decision to suspend productions for the rest of 2020, “difficult,” but said it was needed “given that we cannot predict when we will be able to safely resume live performances.”

“Although disappointing for us all, we are using this time to plan for the future — a future that no doubt requires us to think differently about how we bring the full depth and breadth of the opera experience to our audience. While we await more information on when we can safely perform again, Christian Capocaccia continues to lead the [Syracuse Opera] board in the shaping of our artistic vision with new and innovative ways to share our art and bring value to the many communities we serve,” the letter said.