Christopher Libby is exiting the resident Milwaukee musical theatre on June 30 to take the position of managing director at Vancouver Opera Association in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Libby has been managing director of Skylight — known for operettas, English-language operas and new and classic musicals — since 1999. The Skylight board has announced a search for a successor.
"The Skylight and I have prided ourselves on producing productions that compare to the finest produced anywhere in the country," Libby told Playbill.com. "I hope to bring that same level of excellence to the fine work that is being produced in Vancouver."
Libby arrived in Milwaukee in 1994. Armed with an arts administration degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was hired as Skylight artistic administrator by managing director Joan Lounsbery. By 1999, after years of tutelage from Lounsbery and stints as managing director for Trinity Irish Dance Company and general manager of the University of Chicago's Court Theatre, he was hired as managing director following Lounsbery's departure.
In his time there, Skylight had three of its most successful seasons on record. Under Libby's leadership the Skylight has paid off the mortgage on its $7 million facility, built endowment and strengthened its cash reserves. Beginning with support of Skylight's first commission of Ballymore, Libby supported an expanded program of premiere productions by Skylight Opera Theatre. Since Ballymore, Skylight has produced regional, state and local premieres of Floyd Collins, The Spitfire Grill, The Tender Land, as well as ambitious re-workings of Romeo and Juliet, Don Giovanni, Madame Butterfly and The Turn of the Screw.
The first two television broadcasts of Skylight productions (Ballymore and The Tender Land) happened in Libby's time. Most recently, Skylight expanded its profile nationally with The Little Prince, by Rachel Portman and directed by Francesca Zambello in collaboration with Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Tulsa Opera.
Skylight's first education director was hired as one of Libby's first acts as managing director, drawing together the varied outreach activities of the Skylight under one department. Since then, the education department has expanded to partnerships with over 12 area schools and has garnered the support of numerous local foundations.
Libby is twice a graduate of Iowa State University, first in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in political science and again in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in theatre. He is also a graduate of the master's program at the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the nation's oldest advanced degree program for arts administrators.
Married to photographer wife Michelle since 1994, Libby is the father of daughter, Faith and son, Roan.
Artistic director Bill Theisen and managing director Christopher Libby announced the re-branding and the upcoming shows of The Skylight's new season (its 49th) on March 6.
The dropping of the word "opera" reflects the longtime eclectism of the Equity company's work. Opera will not disappear from the mission (there are two in the new season).
The 2007-08 slate includes the Milwaukee premiere of David Carlson's The Midnight Angel, Sept. 21-Oct. 7; the new stage musical based on the classic film musical, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Nov. 23-Dec. 31, 2007; a contemporary chamber version of Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece, La Traviata, Feb. 1-17, 2008; the Broadway play with music Souvenir, March 14-30, 2008; and Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit's Nine — the Musical, May 23-June 15, 2008.
All productions in The Skylight's 2007-2008 season will be presented in the intimate, horseshoe-shaped Cabot Theatre of the Broadway Theatre Center, at 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee, WI.