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Vosburgh ends OWR tenure with ‘Macbeth’

For David Vosburgh, directing Opera Western Reserve’s production of “Macbeth” is his gold watch.

Vosburgh, who founded the opera company 15 years ago, will retire after next week’s production.

“It’s time. After 75, you can’t kid yourself, you’re not 25 anymore,” the 81-year-old production director said.

He’s going out with one of his favorite operas, Giuseppe Verdi’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”

“I’ve been thinking about it for years,” Vosburgh said. “I wake up at 4 a.m. and start doing staging in my head.”

He directed the opera once before, about 25 years ago, and he created a set for a production of “Macbeth” about a decade before that, but the performance space was about the size of a living room, not the majestic stone and marble structure that is Stambaugh Auditorium.

“We’re giving young singers a chance to sing in a hall of this caliber,” he said. “We’re not doing it in a church basement, but in a world-class hall with tremendous acoustics … I get an emotional and spiritual lift every time I walk into this hall.”

Vosburgh has directed or designed more than 100 operas, musicals and plays in his career. He started as a singer and actor, performing more than 30 operatic roles and appearing on Broadway as part of the original Broadway cast of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical “Evita,” and in “A Doll’s Life” and “1776.”

Those experiences gave him a chance to learn from the best, including working five time with Harold Prince, a 21-time Tony Award winner.

At Opera Western Reserve, Vosburgh worked closely with Susan Davenny Wyner, who served as music director to his production director.

“Susan is a wonderful collaborator,” he said. “In 15 years, we never had a disagreement. We didn’t have to horse trade to get singers we liked (that the other didn’t). We always heard it the same way.”

Vosburgh will be succeeded by Scott Skiba, executive artistic director of Cleveland Opera Theater and director of opera studies for Baldwin Wallace Conservatory.

“I’m very grateful for the support of the community,” Vosburgh said. “They’ve supported us with their presence and their purses. We’re fortunate they kept us solvent, which is rare for an opera company these days.”

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