Following backstage intrigue, Susan Danis to return to FGO

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Susan Danis will leave FGO to become CEO of the La Jolla Music Society in October.

Susan Danis

Just seven weeks ago, it was announced that Florida Grand Opera executive director Susan T.  Danis was leaving Miami to take up a new job in San Diego October 1 leading the La Jolla Music Society (LJMS).

On Wednesday, FGO announced that Danis would, in fact, be staying with the Miami company after a bizarre tale of backstage intrigue and drama that can only be described as operatic.

In an unorthodox press release sent out Wednesday afternoon, the company outlined the backstory.

FGO claims that singer Graham Fandrei, the former director of FGO’s Young Artist Program, sent a defamatory letter about Danis under a phony name to the board chair of LJMS and his staff. (The release said that Fandrei has since retracted the letter, acknowledging that it was based on false information and sent with malicious intent, and has apologized to FGO, LJMS, and Danis.)

Danis says in a statement in the release that she “responded to and discredited” the unspecified charges raised by Fandrei—described by FGO as “a disgruntled ex-employee” of the company.  Nonetheless, Danis said she withdrew her acceptance of the position of president and CEO of LJMS as “mutually agreed” with the San Diego organization.

The press statement —also released by the La Jolla Music Society Wednesday—doesn’t explain why Danis’s job offer was rescinded by mutual agreement if the charges in Fandrei’s letter were false and discredited.

And while Danis’s return to Miami is likely a positive artistically for the financially struggling FGO, the reasons proffered for her return seem just as unconvincing.

“With the recent changes in the Studio Artist Program and in the midst of important projects and transactions, I believe after six years of service, I owe it to the loyal board, patrons, and staff of FGO to see these through to completion,” said Danis in the FGO press release.

Florida Grand Opera’s Chairman of the Board, Linda Balent, said that the FGO Board voted unanimously to reinstate Danis to her position. Balent said, “We are very happy to welcome Susan back and have her continue producing great opera, community engagement programs, and overseeing the management of FGO.”

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Wed Sep 12, 2018
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