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Virginia Opera Staff


Russell P. Allen, President & CEO

Adam Turner, Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor

Staff Listing

Norfolk Office
Richmond Office


Russell P. Allen

President and CEO

Russell P. AllenRussell P. Allen began his second tour-of-duty with Virginia Opera in September, 2011. He had been General Manager from 1994-2000. Allen previously served as Executive Director of The Washington Ballet and Orlando Ballet where he worked in both positions building stronger administrative operations, generating increased earned and contributed revenue, strategically growing the institutions, and furthering each organization's mission and visibility in their respective communities. During his successful tenure in ballet management, Allen partnered with artistic directors Bruce Marks, Fernando Bujones, and Septime Webre.

Prior to his seven years in ballet, Allen served as General Manager for The Atlanta Opera, following his six years at Virginia Opera. His work with Virginia Opera in the 90s saw the organization through both its 20th and 25th gala seasons, and through six years of growth in both audience size and contributed revenue. Now looking ahead to its 40th Season in 2014-15, Allen will plan with Virginia Opera's Board of Directors the direction of the next phase of growth and development for Virginia Opera.

Throughout his tenure serving major arts institutions, Allen has served as an independent arts consultant in both fundraising and administrative development including his most recent assignments with Young Audiences of Virginia in Hampton Roads and Dance Metro DC in Washington, DC. He also has had significant involvement with the OPERA America Field Services Program and the National Endowment for the Arts On-Site Review Program. Mr. Allen also worked for sixteen years in symphony management; eight years of which was as Vice President and General Manager of The Phoenix Symphony.

As a leader in the cultural arena, Allen has been active on grant review panels for state arts commissions in Texas, Arizona, and Maryland, and for the past three years with the Virginia Commission For the Arts. He also has served on both the opera and dance panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. Mr. Allen has been a member of the Valley Leadership Institute in Phoenix, the Civic Leadership Program in Hampton Roads, and served on a legislative sub-committee of the Virginia General Assembly on the state's arts funding initiatives. He also served for four years as Chair of the Executive Directors Council of the Hampton Roads Cultural Alliance.

In his spare time, Allen has since 2006 served as President of his Homeowners Association in Florida and served on his college's Alumni Board from 2003-2009. Allen was a double major in English and Music at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

Adam Turner

Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor

Adam Turner

American conductor Adam Turner is quickly gaining momentum as a conductor to watch on international opera stages. Currently serving as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Maestro Turner garners critical acclaim for the breadth of his repertoire, artistic vision, and polished technique. Of his recent performance of Sweeney Todd with Virginia Opera Opera News hailed: “Adam Turner conducted a stylish account of the score, drawing impressively nuanced playing from the Virginia Symphony every step of the way.”  Continuing in his post at Virginia Opera, Maestro Turner will conduct performances of La bohème, Roméo et Juliette and Der fliegende Holländer next season. He will also be conducting Roméo et Juliette at Lyric Opera Baltimore, and collaborating with renowned conductor John DeMain on Washington National Opera’s production of Kurt Weill’s final stage composition Lost in the Stars.

Other recent guest conducting engagements include: Sweeney Todd at Hawaii Opera Theatre and Eugene Opera; Le nozze di Figaro, Dead Man Walking, Carmen, La bohème, Man of La Mancha and Oklahoma! with Central City Opera; Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Carmen, Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Britten’s biblically inspired Noye’s Fludde during his tenure as Resident Conductor at Ash Lawn Opera; and H.M.S. Pinafore, Carmen, Ariadne auf Naxos, The Mikado, Carousel, and Camelot for Virginia Opera.

During regular appearances with Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Richmond Symphony, Mr. Turner conducted Young People’s Concerts and additional outreach activities. His leadership of Virginia Opera’s annual “Opera in the Park” series, featuring both of the aforementioned orchestras in their respective communities, reaches nearly 10,000 attendees across the Commonwealth of Virginia with a program of opera and popular hits, ensuring the next generation of prospective opera lovers, and bridging the gap between popular and classical music genres. He appeared in concert with singer-songwriter Ben Folds, conducting “The Orchestra Experience” during a recent tour stop in Virginia Beach. Additionally, Maestro Turner conducted at the David Oistrakh Festival in Estonia, featuring appearances with the St. Petersburg Festival Orchestra, Pärnu City Orchestra, and the Kaiserslautern Symphony Orchestra.

Turner first gained recognition at age 25 during his tenure at Stadttheater Pforzheim in Germany while taking over conducting responsibilities of a production of Les Misérables. Musicals – Das Musicalmagazin, Germany’s premier musical theater publication lauded his work: “Les Mis reveals even here its magical effectiveness… The main reason for this is the performance of the orchestra, led by a young American conductor, Adam Turner, who brings to the piece a suspenseful drama that one does not always hear, even on the legendary, anniversary recording at the Royal Albert Hall. During the dramatic dialogues, he pushes the action forward but one is nonetheless able to understand every single word…he builds up the aria-like solos with great crescendos yet purposefully does not turn the first Thénardier-Song into a homely operetta number…” There, he also conducted Lehár’s Paganini and Cole Porter’s High Society.

Prior to his appointment as one of the youngest artistic leaders in Virginia Opera’s history, Turner proved he has a vision for the future of the industry as a member of the next generation of leaders while holding several administrative and music staff appointments at houses across the country including Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Central City Opera, Portland Opera, Tulsa Opera, Syracuse Opera, and Ash Lawn Opera. In these positions, Turner worked side-by-side with world-renowned maestri including Asher Fisch, Steuart Bedford, John DeMain, Gary Thor Wedow, and Broadway veteran Rob Fisher. Turner holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Morehead State University, and a Master of Music degree from The Catholic University of America. He furthered his training with internationally acclaimed conductors and pedagogues Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Marin Alsop, Jorma Panula, Gustav Meier, Kenneth Kiesler, and Kate Tamarkin.


Staff Listing

Contact a Virginia Opera staff member by dialing the main office number first, followed by one of the extensions listed on this page.

Dial the main office number first, followed by the appropriate extension.

Norfolk: 757.627.9545
Richmond: 804.644.8168
Toll-Free: 1.866.673.7282

You may also reach us by emailing


Alexandra Stacey, Artistic Coordinator

Dave Smith, Production & Technical Directorx3344

Virginia Opera (Norfolk) 757.627.9545
Russell P. Allen, President & CEO x3335
Adam Turner, Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor
Alexandra Stacey, Artistic Coordinator
Alexandria Burns, Accounts Payable x3310 
Amanda Jo Ely, Group Sales & Audience Services Manager x3322
Andrew Meiggs, Staff Accountant x3343 
Cody Symanietz, Production Stage Manager x3340 
Dr. Glenn Winters, Community Outreach Musical Director x3304
Ed Saindon, Technical Director x3306
Ellen Bender, Development/Marketing Director of Central/Northern VA x3396
Howard Bender, Vice President of Central/Northern Virginia Operations x3398
James McGough, Wig & Makeup Manager x3314
Joan Llaneza, Assistant Stage Manager x3330 
Jojo Chittum, Receptionist/Administrative Assistant x3300
Kandis Burnworth, Annual Fund Manager x3318 
Kearston Dillard-Scott, Lighting Supervisor x3374
Kelsey Burston, Assistant Stage Manager x3329

Lana Sadowski, Marketing & Sales Promotion Manager


Levi Hull, Social Media and Marketing Manager

Lisa Sands, Hampton Roads Director of Development x3319
Lisa Stewart, House Manager x3378
Maggi George, Statewide Director of Marketing x3316
Pat Seyller, Costume Shop Manager x3312
Robert Cinnante, Statewide Director of Education & Outreach x3392
Roberta Brennan, Properties Master/Operations Coordinator x3309
Robert Veland, Director of Finance & Human Resources x3311
Shelby Rhoades, Principal Coach & Director of Emerging Artists x3320
Stephanie Drinkard, Group Sales & Assistant Audience Services Manager x3346
Susan Porter, Senior Development Writer & Research Analyst x3372
Vanya Foote, Company Manager x3332
Virginia Opera (Richmond) 804.644.8168  
Russell P. Allen, President & CEO x3336
Howard Bender, Vice President of Central/Northern Virginia Operations x3398
Kelsey Backe, Office Coordinator of Central/Northern Virginia x3397
Robert Cinnante, Statewide Director of Education & Outreach x3392