Michelle Krisel

Artistic Director

As General Director of Charlottesville Opera from 2010 to 2015, Michelle Krisel expanded its season from the summer to include holiday performances and a spring concert opera as well. The size of the opera audience and the number of children attending performances has doubled since 2011. The Daily Progress described its 2011 production of The King and I as "the best locally produced musical seen here in years" and the Echo described the 2012 season as, "How could this perfection be?" Ms. Krisel's professional career in opera spans thirty-five years and includes broad experience in all aspects of opera production and administration before becoming the General Director of Charlottesville Opera, then Ash Lawn Opera, in June 2010. When Plácido Domingo took the leadership of Washington National Opera in 1996, he invited Ms. Krisel to join him as his Special Assistant. In 2002, he asked her to design and lead the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, to train singers, coach/accompanists, conductors, and directors on the verge of international careers. It quickly grew to become one of the most respected and sought-after Young Artist Programs in the world. Ms. Krisel created performance opportunities for these talented young performers by forming partnerships with local organizations such as the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery, the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Inter-American Development Bank, and many Embassies. She took Young Artist performances to Beijing and Monte Carlo, as well as to the White House, the Senate, the Kennedy Center Honors, and many other prestigious venues. Seeking to broaden opera audiences, she launched a program to attract first-time opera-goers, Generation O, to support an annual full-length Young Artist performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House, and which now boasts 13,000 members. In 2001, Ms. Krisel produced Plácido Domingo's international vocal competition, Operalia, raising over a million dollars to insure its success. In 2004, Ms. Krisel was asked to lead WNO's Education and Community Programs - with its extensive school, library, and summer programs; as well as the production of four different Family operas. Before joining Washington National Opera, Ms. Krisel served for a decade as a pianist, vocal coach, accompanist and assistant conductor at opera companies in the U.S. and abroad. She learned another aspect of building and promoting the careers of opera singers by working as an artists' manager and representative for a decade in New York, before moving to Washington, D.C. Ms. Krisel holds degrees in music from Yale University and the University of Southern California, and rounded out her musical studies in Vienna and Paris. Ms. Krisel lives in northern Virginia with Amb. Paul Hare and is the mother of three children: twin sons who recently graduated from Yale University and a daughter who works in NYC. She has been Artistic Director of Charlottesville Opera since 2015.