Checking In On Workplace Satisfaction Among Opera Organizations

As promised at the conclusion of Wednesday’s post examining workplace satisfaction among symphony orchestra institutions, today’s installment will take a look at opera employers.


Although there wasn’t as large of an uptick in opera organizations as compared to their symphonic orchestra peers, the number of groups with at least one review within the last 12 months nearly doubled (kudos to you for making such a difference)! As such, let’s get right down to the numbers and see how each group fared.

# reviews (change)Score, max 5.0  (+/- change)
Arizona Opera2 (NC)4.7
Atlanta Opera2 (NC)3.0
Austin Opera8 (new)2.4
Boston Lyric Opera4 (new)3.2
Chicago Opera Theater5 (new)2.5
Cincinnati Opera1 (new)3
Dallas Opera4 (+3)2.9 (-1.1)
Detroit Opera2 (NC)4.0
Florida Grand Opera7 (new)3.3
Fort Worth Opera1 (new)5.0
Houston Grand Opera11 (+4)3.3 (+.3)
Los Angeles Opera8 (+1)2.2 (-.2)
Lyric Opera of Chicago26 (+13)3.3 (NC)
Metropolitan Opera34 (+13)2.3 (-.5)
Michigan Opera Theatre1 (new)1.0
Minnesota Opera3 (new)3.5
Nashville Opera2 (new)3.8
Opera Theatre of St. Louis5 (NC)4.1
Portland Opera3 (new)4
San Francisco Opera12 (+6)3.1 (+.1)
Santa Fe Opera4 (new)4.50
Sarasota Opera6 (+2)1.5 (NC)
Seattle Opera5 (+2)3.6 (+.4)
Skylight Opera4 (NC)3.8
Tulsa Opera4 (new)3.3
Utah Symphony & Opera1 (new)4
Washington National Opera4 (+1)4.1 (-.4)

Looking Ahead

As is the case for symphony orchestras, your efforts to improve workplace satisfaction transparency are bearing fruit within the opera field; as such, it is more important than ever to continue in this direction. The more you contribute, the better positioned you’ll be at implementing positive change by making sure more opera managers are aware that something like exists and can be used by both current and former employees.

To that end, be sure you reach out and encourage your colleagues to leave reviews for their respective employers; it will only help accelerate progress.

Why This Matters

Adaptistration People 023Regular readers know that the topic of Workplace Satisfaction is one of the more popular here at Adaptistration and even though it continues to remain firmly swept under the rug for the field as a whole, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.

To that end, serves as a useful benchmark for gauging current and previous employee satisfaction and after a bit of research, it turns out there are enough orchestra employers listed in their database to produce a worthwhile overview.

Granted, there are certainly critics of services like, which allow members to post review content anonymously, but some Google sleuthing turns up more favorable reviews than not.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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