Leadership and Staff
GRETHE BARRETT HOLBY — Executive & Artistic Director
A driving force in new American opera for over 25 years, Grethe Barrett Holby works in multiple artistic dimensions. Her background and skills in theatre and storytelling, dance and movement, and architecture and visual design combine to compelling results in every one of her artistic endeavors.
Holby is a visionary. She launched the groundbreaking organizations American Opera Projects in 1988, which she led for 13 years, and Ardea Arts / Family Opera Initiative in 1995, which she continues to lead. With these initiatives, Holby has changed the way the general public views opera, by engaging new audiences of all ages to the art form, often in unexpected settings. Holby is an originating cast member of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, touring Europe and finishing with two performances at the Metropolitan Opera House.
Holby has collaborated with the artists Leonard Bernstein, Plácido Domingo, Lou Reed, Kitty Brazelton, Yusef Komunyakaa, and many more, in venues from The Kennedy Center and La Scala to The Flea Theater and The Kitchen, and most recently, on the basketball court. She has directed Faust for opera companies in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Memphis; La Traviata in North Carolina, and John Cage’s Europera 5 and the American staged premiere of Erik Satie’s Socrate for Center for Contemporary Opera (CCO), William Mayer’s One Christmas Long Ago, and George Plimpton, Kitty Brazelton, and Holby’s Animal Tales for Ardea Arts and the Garden State Orchestra, among others.
Holby has served as resident choreographer of the Houston Grand Opera, choreographing Turandot, Wozzeck, and Dido and Aeneas, among others. She has also choreographed productions for Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera: Tales of Hoffmann, and for Michigan Opera Theater: Regina and Summer Snow. She began her performing career dancing for the minimalist Laura Dean and Dance Co. in Dean’s world premiere of Steve Reich’s Drumming and was an originating cast member of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, touring Europe and performing here in NYC at the Metropolitan Opera House, as well as performing for Eric Bogosian and others of the Soho Avant Garde. Her own company, Grethe Holby and Dancers, staged works to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and music by Brian Eno, David Byrne, and many more.
Most recently, Holby’s focus has been on the development of two major projects. BOUNCE The Basketball Opera, with concept and direction by Holby, story and libretto by renowned basketball poet and author Charles R. Smith, Jr., with additional story and libretto contributions by best-selling author and Academy-Award-winning script writer Beth Gutcheon, and additional lyrics and libretto by revered poet Frank X Walker. Music is by the late Grammy-winning lead composer Glen Roven, with additional music by Tomás Doncker ,and Hip Hop / EDM tracks for the basketball segments by Ansel Elgort. BOUNCE was developed in partnership with Ardea Arts and University of Kentucky Opera Theatre (UKOT) in Lexington, KY. BOUNCE will bring live performance to basketball courts across America, in urban cities and rural towns, with performances now being planned across the country from a world premiere in New Orleans to Alaskan Native Villages and even a Six Court NYC Tour from East Flatbush, Brooklyn to Holcombe Rucker Court in Harlem in partnership with Harlem Stage and Each One Teach One. BOUNCE staged its development premiere from November 10–12, 2017 on a basketball court in downtown Lexington, KY.
Holby’s second current project The Three Astronauts is a space opera based on a picture book by Umberto Eco and Eugenio Carmi, with music and libretto by a team of international composers and writers from the United States, China, and Russia. Preview presentations of The Three Astronauts have been performed at the International Symposium for Personal & Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) and the Rio Grande Theatre, both in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and at LaGuardia Arts High School in New York City.
Holby earned a Master of Architecture degree and a B.S. in Architecture with a concentration in Aero-Astronautical Engineering, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her thesis was in Theater Design. She also cross-registered and studied set design at Harvard University. On Broadway, she was the assistant designer for Treemonisha. She has participated on panels for OPERA America, Kennedy Center, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Bryn Mawr College, and Pratt University, among others, and has given master classes at MIT and Boston University. Holby lives in New York City with her husband, Vogue photographer Arthur Elgort. They have three children, photographer Sophie Elgort, filmmaker Warren Elgort and movie star & musician Ansel Elgort.
CHIDI OZIEH — Managing & Media Director
Chidi Ozieh was born October 1981 in London, England, and currently resides in New York City. He is a writer, director, producer, music composer, and visual effects supervisor known for a number of short films such as Serum (2010)—Best Sci-Fi Short Film at the 2012 Philadelphia Film Festival, Inheritors (2013), and the rotoscope live-action animated film Young Mallory (2014). Since childhood, Ozieh has always been an artist at heart with a solid foundation in visual arts, and later studied Music at Thames Valley University. He embarked on his filmmaking journey after immigrating to the U.S. with the belief that filmmaking is the ultimate form of artistic expression and storytelling as it incorporates his many talents in visual arts, music, writing, producing, and directing. Ozieh is currently working on his feature film debut as a writer, director, and producer.
ALAN DAI — Administrative Coordinator for Grethe Barrett Holby
Alan Dai is a self-taught vocalist and composer. A native of sunny Los Angeles, he enjoys recording, producing, and mixing & mastering music as a freelancer, and hopes to one day start his own professional recording studio. Dai also has an interest in the Computer Science field, and aspires to combine those skills with his love for music to explore unorthodox music-producing methods through innovative technologies. He is a recent graduate of Columbia University, earning a B.A. in Music, and is presently based in New York City, enjoying its unique position as a hub for both technology and the arts.
Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employment policy
Ardea Arts provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, political affiliation, disability, or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Ardea Arts complies with applicable New York state and local laws governing non-discrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.
Ardea Arts expressly prohibits any form of workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, or veteran status. Improper interference with the ability of our employees to perform their job duties may result in discipline up to and including discharge.