Christopher Koelsch began his LA Opera career in 1997, and has been the Sebastian Paul and Marybelle Musco President and Chief Executive Officer of the company since 2012.
Mr. Koelsch oversees all aspects of artistic planning, including repertoire selection, music administration, casting, and the choice of guest conductors. He defines the artistic vision for the company, and is responsible for determining the procedures for its implementation. He is also in charge of every aspect of the company’s strategic resources, including board development, fundraising, branding, marketing, public relations, educational and outreach administration. He has overseen the creation of more than 40 new productions, including six world premieres, working with each creative team to manage every phase of development from initial conception to opening night. Mr. Koelsch has served as executive producer for ten television recordings for LA Opera, including Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, which won two Grammy Awards, along with two live simulcasts, and two audio-only recordings, including The Ghosts of Versailles, which also won two Grammy Awards.
In recent seasons, he has guided LA Opera through a remarkable period of reinvention, emphasizing the highest standards of artistic excellence and innovation, a renewed focus on community inclusivity and fiscal responsibility. Under his leadership, the company has launched a number of critical artistic initiatives designed to expand the reach of the institution and diversify its artistic product, including Off Grand, an annual series of experimental programs in nontraditional venues, including a standing contemporary chamber opera series; a film and music series; live, free simulcasts of mainstage productions; and a community-created opera. Over 50% of the audiences for these programs have been completely new to the company. The company has also launched multi-year programmatic initiatives, including series devoted to specific composers, including Wagner, Britten and Bernstein; a “Beaumarchais/Figaro” series, and an annual commitment to contemporary work on the main stage. The company also began curating complementary programming for these series to enrich audience experience, curating festival-style events among 140 cultural entities for an 18-month Ring Festival, over 90 organizations for a 12-month Britten centenary celebration, and 40 for a three-month exploration of themes of revolution and economic inequality related to Beaumarchais. The company has also newly committed to repertory diversity, producing everything from classic favorites to rarely performed gems, as well as a sampling of new works.
He joined LA Opera in 1997 as the assistant to Artistic Administrator Edgar Baitzel. Rising rapidly through a series of promotions, he was named Associate Director of Artistic Operations in 2002. He became Vice President of Artistic Planning in 2009 and was subsequently named Senior Vice President and CEO in 2010. In 2012, he became LA Opera's President and CEO.
Mr. Koelsch grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts. Trained as a dramaturg and stage director at Colgate University and the University of Michigan, he began his career at the Spoleto Festival USA, where he was rehearsal administrator. He relocated to the West Coast to become the company manager at Opera Pacific.
He lives in Hollywood with his husband and Franklin, his dog.