Joseph Volpe, retired General Manager of The Metropolitan Opera and theater and management consultant, was appointed Executive Director of The Sarasota Ballet in February 2016. Volpe first joined the board of The Sarasota Ballet in 2014 after a long history in the world of the performing arts. He spent 42 years working at The Metropolitan Opera rising from apprentice carpenter to General Manager from 1990-2006. In that role Volpe expanded the length of The Met repertory season as well as the number of new productions. There were 4 world premieres, 22 Met premieres, 4 commissions and expanded international touring activities. His term was characterized by sound fiscal management, fresh customer service initiatives and no contract disputes for over three decades of his leadership in contract negotiations.
He conceived and developed “Met Titles,” an innovative titling system providing multilingual translations of the operas on the backs of each seat, visible only to the individual audience members who wish to utilize them and initiated the development of Tessitura, a management software program for targeted marketing and fundraising appeals, which is now licensed to more than 200 companies worldwide.
In 1998 Volpe instituted an education outreach project for young children in cooperation with the City of New York Department of Education emphasizing direct experience with music and opera for students. He also established a partnership with the University of Connecticut that provides students from music and drama departments with behind-the-scenes access to the creative and technical processes that bring the opera to life on The Met stage.
Volpe retired from The Met in July of 2006, leaving the company with a strong administration, an endowment fund that had increased from $100 million to $345 million and exceptional artistic plans for the future. Since that time, Volpe consulted for two years with Giuliani Partners. Currently, he consults with Theatre Projects Consultants providing comprehensive advice from project conception and design to daily operations and fiscal management. Volpe helps major arts organization and universities as they plan a move into new facilities or address the reorganization and renovation of existing ones. He also serves as a Senior Consultant for Hudson Scenic Studios advising on all aspects of management, labor negotiation and strategic planning and heads The Volpe Group, Ltd, his own theater and management consulting firm.
Volpe taught a course entitled, “Managing in the Performing Arts” for five years at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Georgetown, SUNY Purchase, Harvard and Oxford University. He has received honorary degrees from numerous universities, including Georgetown University, Fordham University and Hamilton College.
Volpe is the author of The Toughest Show on Earth, My Rise and Reign at The Metropolitan Opera, published by Random House in 2006.