Patty Isacson Sabee - Detroit Opera

President and CEO, Detroit Opera

Credit: Yassine El Mansouri

Detroit Opera welcomed Patty Isacson Sabee as President and CEO on January 2, 2024. Isacson Sabee is a transformative, collaborative leader with more than 35 years of experience driving excellence at U.S. arts institutions. She is only the third person to lead Detroit Opera since its founding (as Michigan Opera Theatre) in 1971 by the late David DiChiera, and follows Wayne S. Brown, who led the company from 2014 to 2023.

Immediately prior to joining the Detroit Opera, Isacson Sabee was Executive Director of Planet Word, an immersive language experience in Washington, D.C. that opened in October 2020 and celebrates the fun, beauty, and power of words, language, and reading. At Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), founded in 2000 as the Experience Music Project, she served as Director of External Relations and Development before being named CEO and Director. She oversaw MoPOP’s national programming and $213 million in assets and was responsible for bringing in more than 600,000 annual visitors. At the Seattle Symphony over the course of two decades, she held positions in operations, artistic administration, and development before serving as Interim Executive Director. Her accomplishments at Seattle Symphony include directing the start-up operations of Benaroya Hall, a $118 million dedicated symphonic concert hall that opened in September 1998.

Isacson Sabee joins Detroit Opera as it builds on David DiChiera’s vision for the company as a center for high-quality, accessible opera and dance in the heart of Detroit. Under the artistic direction of Yuval Sharon, recent opera highlights include 2020’s Twilight: Gods, a drive-through experience of Richard Wagner’s opera Götterdämmerung, a new staging of Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance piece BLISS at the Michigan Building Theatre in 2021, the 2022 world premiere of a new co-production of Anthony Davis and Thulani Davis’s X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, and Sharon’s 2022 La bohème staging, which presented the four acts of Puccini’s classic opera in reverse order.

Isacson Sabee’s love of music has taken her from the orchestra pit as a freelance violist in New York to the board room. She is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa.


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