Longtime Indianapolis Opera director resigns

Artistic Director James Caraher has resigned after 33 years with the Indianapolis Opera, the general manager of the struggling arts organization said Wednesday afternoon.

GM Carol Baker said the board of directors received an email Monday morning from Caraher stating that he was leaving the company effective immediately. Caraher, 63, was appointed the opera's music director in 1981 and artistic director in 1995.

Baker declined to say whether Caraher gave a reason for the departure.

"When you deal with personnel issues, there's only so much someone can say about that," she said. "I'm heartbroken that Jim has decided to resign and exit the company in such a swift manner."

Caraher could not be reached for comment.

The departure is the second troubling event to hit the 39-year-old opera company in the past month or so. In late March, the arts group canceled its fourth and final production of the 2013-14 season in the wake of "financial challenges."

"Albert Herring," set for April 25 through May 4 at the Basile Opera Center, was called off. In a prepared statement, the opera said it decided to not to risk "further financial strain" by "pushing forward with the final production of the year."

Caraher, who was born in Clinton, N.Y., previously was music director and principal conductor for the Syracuse Opera Company.

The Indianapolis Opera's website says he frequently serves as guest conductor for other symphonies and opera companies, including the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Kentucky Opera, Opera Memphis, Buffalo Opera and Nashville Opera. He and his family live in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Opera  has yet to announce its plans for the 2014-15 season. Baker said she was holding off announcing those selections until funding was secure, adding “We don’t want to embark on a season and have to cancel another production.”

Caraher’s duties included crafting that season and presenting it to the board of directors for approval.

“This is a big loss for us,” said Baker. “It’s not going to derail us, but it opens to the door to different conversations.”

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