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Kennedy Center Names New Chief

July 19, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Michael Kaiser, who once wanted to be an opera singer but is now known for helping opera and ballet institutions rebuild their finances, has been named the new head of the Kennedy Center, Washington’s multiple stage for music and plays of all kinds.

His last rescue job was London’s troubled Royal Opera House _ Covent Garden _ where he worked off a deficit and created an endowment. The Kennedy Center is in a drive for $100 million, of which $70 million already has been raised.

Kaiser resigned from the Royal Opera House a month ago after 19 months on the job. Previously, he headed the American Ballet Theatre, where he erased the entire accumulated deficit and increased income substantially.

An American who began as an aspiring opera singer, Kaiser has had experience with the Washington Opera, which performs at the Kennedy Center, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the State Ballet of Missouri.

``I am honored to be asked to take this leadership and look forward to working with the artists, staff and trustees of the Kennedy Center to build the local, national and international contributions of this remarkable institution,″ Kaiser said in a statement.

Kaiser, 47, will replace Lawrence J. Wilker, who announced his departure in April. Kaiser will start Feb. 1.

``The news of Michael Kaiser’s appointment is indeed exciting,″ Washington Opera Artistic Director Placido Domingo told The Washington Post in a statement. ``He brings with him such an impressive track record of giving extraordinary stability to arts organizations.″

A native of New York City, Kaiser studied violin and trained as an opera baritone, performing in the chorus at Tanglewood.

The Kennedy Center, which also puts on concerts, plays, musicals and films, is in the midst of a $170 million renovation program. Basic improvements are being made to the center’s Opera House, which may become the permanent home of the Washington Opera.

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