Met Opera Staffing News
November 15th, 2019
Met Artistic Administrator Jonathan Friend to Step Down
Michael Heaston to Assume the Role in July 2020
New York, NY (November 15, 2019)—The Metropolitan Opera announced today that longtime Artistic Administrator Jonathan Friend will be stepping down from his position following the end of the 2019–20 season. Michael Heaston, the former Executive Director of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, who currently holds positions at both Houston Grand Opera and Rice University, will be returning to the Met in July 2020 to replace Friend as the Artistic Administrator. Friend is in discussions with the Met about an ongoing artistic role with the company.
“Jonathan Friend has been at the forefront of the Met’s artistic efforts, playing an invaluable role in attracting the world’s greatest singers to our stage, helping to develop our repertory, and overseeing one of the most complex performance schedules in existence, and we thank him for his tremendous work over nearly four decades,” said General Manager Peter Gelb. “With these big shoes to fill, I’m very pleased that Michael Heaston has agreed to return to the Met fold, bringing his considerable artistic and administrative skills to this important position.”
The Met’s Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, said, “Since my Met debut in 2009, I have been deeply impressed with Jonathan’s work at the company. He has been an extraordinary colleague and partner as I initiated my tenure as Music Director, so I am sad to see him move on. Finding the right person to succeed Jonathan is no easy task, and I am delighted to welcome Michael Heaston back to the Met.”
Born in London, Jonathan Friend began his career at English National Opera and joined the Met in 1981, becoming Artistic Administrator three years later. In addition to casting and planning future Met seasons, he is a respected judge at international vocal competitions.
A highly regarded vocal coach, pianist, and administrator, Michael Heaston is currently the Professor of Opera and Director of the Opera Studies Program at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and the Music Director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. He was Executive Director of the Met’s young artist program from 2016 to 2018. Prior to arriving at the Met he held positions at Washington National Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, and the Dallas Opera.
In related staffing news, Sophie Joyce will leave her position as the current Executive Director of the Lindemann program at the end of the 2019–20 season to go to the Paris Opera, where she will be responsible for casting. Diane Zola, the Met’s Assistant General Manager, Artistic, will add to her duties by becoming the new Lindemann Executive Director.