One of the local arts scene's most notable figures is moving up in the world -- and to Minnesota.
Madison Opera general director Allan Naplan has been hired as the new president and general director of Minnesota Opera, the country's 15th largest opera company. And judging by how often Naplan uses the word "tremendous" when discussing his new position at the Minneapolis-based company, he's thrilled by the chance to move up in the opera industry.
"I'm tremendously excited. This is a company that I have looked to with great respect for quite a long time, really from the start of my career in opera," he says.
Naplan is in the middle of his sixth season with Madison Opera. He was an In Business 40 Under 40 honoree in 2009, and he is an accomplished singer, radio producer and award-winning composer.
Naplan has big shoes to fill. He'll be taking over from Kevin Smith, who boasts a 30-year career at Minnesota Opera. While Naplan admits to feeling a little pressure, he also deeply respects Smith's work and aspires to continue his legacy.
"Kevin Smith is a visionary leader not only in the Twin Cities, but in the opera industry," Naplan says. "There's a lot that he has created about that company which I just look forward to being able to sustain and ultimately grow."
Naplan will remain at Madison Opera through February's performances of The Threepenny Opera before starting at Minnesota Opera in March. In the meantime, Madison Opera is beginning a nationwide search for Naplan's replacement.
Naplan says he'll miss Madison. "I'm going to miss the people, and the people who have been so supportive of Madison Opera and have allowed me to push this company forward."
As for Madison Opera's future, "We have arrived at a really strong point in the company's history," Naplan says. "And that's what also makes it exciting, that this is a very desirable job now, and I hope that Madison Opera will get someone that's better than me to take it even further."