Ian Derrer ‘01 MMus is general director and CEO of the Dallas Opera. He has previously held administrative positions at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, and Kentucky Opera. Derrer has also worked professionally as a singer, assistant stage manager, stage manager, and director at a number of regional and national companies, including the Santa Fe Opera, Atlanta Opera, Opera Carolina, Opera Pacific, and Washington National Opera.

What made you choose the Bienen School of Music?

The reputation of Northwestern University and its connections to the incredible musical institutions of Chicago.

Which professors influenced you most during your time at the Bienen School of Music?

[Former voice faculty members] Michael Ehrman and Mignon Dunn

Tell us about a particular experience that impacted you during your time at the Bienen School of Music.

From 1999-2001, the School of Music was a particularly unique crossroads for graduate students. I was a former singer pursuing directing, and I befriended a former director pursuing singing, Carl Ratner ‘05 DMus. I was impacted greatly by the encouragement to explore a different path and relished the individual attention I received in the program.

What lesson did you learn at Bienen that has continued to resonate with you in your career?

I learned about flexibility by designing my own curriculum for the degree. As far as I know, I’m the only graduate with a MMus in opera production.

Top three of your Desert Island Discs (any genre)

Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle (Georg Solti, conductor)
Sinatra at the Sands
Janet Baker Sings Handel (Raymond Leppard, conductor)

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