When Dennis Robinson, Jr., was announced as Seattle Opera’s new Director of Programs and Partnerships in June 2022, Seattle Opera's statement noted, "Dennis’ impressive record of bringing opera to new communities gives him impeccable instincts for and insight into community engagement.” That was an understatement!
Robinson has become a bit of a quiet giant in Seattle’s art world, making friends and creating new partnerships with ease and respect. Not one to shy away from actually getting out into community, Dennis has made his presence known with great aplomb. With so much changing in the world of opera where new librettists, new composers, and new stories are being told, Dennis has taken up the work of creating a more inclusive environment by extending authentic invitations and creating opportunities for the community to have more involvement in shaping the audience experience.
Robinson arrived at Seattle Opera with a most impressive background having studied Opera Directing at Carnegie Mellon University and with managerial and directorial stints at Palm Beach Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet, Boston Lyric Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, and more. Robinson is also credited with having designed creative collaborations in Pittsburgh at organizations including the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.
Dennis’ work with community is evident in the impressive lineup of programs scheduled to accompany the February 24 – March 9, 2024, Seattle Opera performances of X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X. A recital, reading, and conversation, artist responses and connection opportunities with the librettist, composer, and writer have all been planned to augment the run.
Seattle Opera is one of three US opera companies that participated in the commissioning of X, which has long been in the works and had its Metropolitan Opera debut this month, to great buzz and expectations that at long last, an important story of this magnitude might become an American classic.
Speaking about the ways in which opera connects to community, Dennis shared, “Opera is not just an art form; it is a powerful force that weaves the threads of culture, emotion, and storytelling into the fabric of a community. Its impact resonates far beyond the stage, reaching deep into the hearts of individuals and binding communities together in a shared experience of beauty, passion, and the timeless resonance of the human spirit. My mission is to allow all of our brothers and sisters to experience that in a place where they feel welcome, comfortable, and included.”
When you visit Seattle Opera, odds are Dennis will be prominently placed to greet you. Say hello and give him a warm welcome.