Dr. David DiChiera was an American composer and opera theater director based in Detroit, Michigan. Born in 1935 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania to Italian immigrant parents Maria and Cosimo DiChiera, he began studying piano at a young age. DiChiera received his BA in 1956, his MA in Composition in 1958 and his Phd in Musicology in 1962 from UCLA. He completed a Fulbright Scholar year in Naples, Italy, researching 18th Century Neopolitan composer Gian Francesco de Majo, the subject of his doctoral dissertation. DiChiera came to Michigan in 1962 to help build the School of Music at the then-newly established Oakland University.
Over a span of more than 40 years, DiChiera founded and served as general director for two opera companies and served as artistic director for a third. DiChiera was named chairman of the board of OPERA America from 1979–1983. During his tenure, two major programs were initiated, which continue to have a lasting impact on opera in America. Opera for the ‘80s and Beyond developed innovative methods of encouraging and funding new American musical theater works. Opera for a New America supported companies in their efforts to reach previously underserved segments of their communities. DiChiera is recognized as a driving force for arts and culture in Southeast Michigan and a proponent of the operatic arts worldwide. In 2010 he received the NEA Opera Honors Award. At the behest of the President of Italy, in 2016 DiChiera received the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy’s highest honor) in recognition of his “lifelong commitment to the dissemination of the Italian language and culture and his dynamic promotion of Italian opera.” For more on DiChiera’s life and career, please view this Kresge Foundation monograph, celebrating his life and work for the 2013 Kresge Eminent Artist Award.
The word “heroic” doesn’t even begin to describe Dr. David DiChiera. His desire to bring world-class opera to our area led him to establish Michigan Opera Theatre in 1971, which in turn, led to a search for a permanent home for the company. That culminated in 1996 with the transformation of the dilapidated Capitol Theatre into the magnificent Detroit Opera House, with superstar tenor Luciano Pavarotti present at the opening gala.
— DETROIT PUBLIC RADIO
David has garnered honor and recognition both at home and abroad; showing a remarkable appreciation for the arts that is evident in the dedication he has shown to his craft.
— MIKE DUGGAN, MAYOR OF DETROIT
Cyrano is an immensely satisfying work of musical theatre, expertly crafted and, at key moments, quite moving, The opera’s final encounter between Cyrano and Roxane is worth the price of admission.
— OPERA NOW
There is only one David DiChiera on earth. He is the most winning and visionary person I know.
— MARC SCORCA, PRESIDENT OF OPERA AMERICA