JAMES K. MCCULLY,  President  &  General Director


Opera Stage Director

In David Farrar's career as opera stage director, he has broken many barriers. He is not only the first African-American to direct the New York City Opera, the San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Opera del Teatro Municipal, Santiago, Chile, and the Opera Theatre at Oberlin Conservatory. He was also the first African-American to stage Gershwin's complete Porgy and Bess in the United States. Honored by the National Opera Association for his historic role as African-American opera stage director and received the Distinguished Director Award.

His many opera productions have received acclaim on three continents. As Founding Stage Director and Director of Productions of the Virginia Opera Association. he was responsible for twelve years of innovation and vitality,during which the company experienced a period of tremendous growth. In 1978, under Dr. Farrar's direction, the Virginia Opera premiered Thea Musgrave's Mary, Queen of Scots, which he subsequently took to the San Francisco Opera and the New York City Opera. Indeed Dr. Farrar has the distinction of being New York city Opera's first African-American director. In 1982 he directed the European premiere of Musgrave's A Christmas Carol for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, in London, where he was again the first African-American director. That production was taped for television and international distribution by GRENADA TV. In the following years Dr. Darrar directed 32 operas in more than 60 productions on three continents. As comfortable with contemporary opera as with established classics, Dr. Farrar directed productions in English, French, German and Italian. Too numerous to mention, these run the alphabetical gamut from Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors to Mascagni's Zanetto. Recently, he was honored with the Antioch College Alumni Board 2013 Walter Anderson Award.

A native New Yorker, Dr. Farrar received his doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1972. He taught music history, theory, keyboard harmony and opera on the faculties of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Lehmann College of the City University of New York, the University of Washington, Seattle, and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In addition to a distinguished career as musicologist and educator, he is also an accomplished bassoonist who has performed both as soloist and as a member of the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony of the New World, and the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, among others.

At present he is writing two books - one on the complex art of stage directing, and another based on his experiences as the first African-American opera stage director to achieve international status, with anecdotes from his debuts at New York City Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and Opera Municipal de Santiago, Chile, and others. In addition to coaching operatic arias, scenes, and lieder, he is now creating a pictorial autobiography with photos and video recordings of his life and career as opera stage director.