Michigan Opera Theatre Chairman Rick Williams Receives National Award

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Michigan Opera Theatre today announced that its chairman, R. Jamison “Rick” Williams, will be honored with a 2018 National Opera Trustee Recognition Award from Opera America.

Williams is one of four people across the country to receive the award this year, which recognizes outstanding trustees of U.S. opera companies. It is awarded for exemplary leadership, generosity, and audience-building efforts on behalf of the honoree’s respective organization.

Opera America selected Williams in recognition of his advocacy and problem-solving abilities, citing his 15 years as chairman of the board, and a legacy highlighted by his successful navigation of the 2008 recession.

“(Williams) is one of the company’s most consistently generous donors and its most vocal problem solver,” says Opera America, in a press release. “After leading the company through the 2008 recession, which hit Detroit harder than most cities, Williams reached his defining moment as chair. He relentlessly negotiated with the company’s consortium of debtors to forgive $7 million of debt in return for paying $11 million in cash within six months.

“He then provided a significant personal leadership gift and influenced other (Michigan Opera Theatre) supporters to join him. The debt was restructured, and a new $5 million mortgage was negotiated-by Mr. Williams — thus avoiding foreclosure and bankruptcy. It was a complex and Herculean task.”

Williams is managing partner of Williams, Williams, Rattner, and Plunkett, a business law firm in downtown Birmingham.

Other 2018 winners are Carol F. Henry of the Los Angeles Opera, Henry Fogel of the Chicago Opera Theater, and John Serrage of Opera Maine.

OPERA America will pay tribute to the 2018 honorees and celebrate their achievements at a dinner and reception on Friday, Feb. 23, in New York City. The evening will feature excerpts from Jack Perla and Rajiv Joseph’s opera Shalimar the Clown, performed by soprano Anush Avetisyan, tenor Joshua Blue, baritone Robert Mellon, and pianist Lachlan Glen.

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