If you are familiar at all with Houston Grand Opera, you probably know Scott Ipsen. I was fortunate enough to meet Scott when he was in charge of all the events at the Opera, and now he's Director of Patron Services, which basically means he's responsible for making loads of people happy.
Scott and his wife Larissa (who also happens to be one of our best clients, she wears our clothes so well!) make going to the opera a true joy. I'm so thankful to have them both in my life and I can't wait for the day when we can all hang out again in person.
I know you'll enjoy getting to know Scott or even getting to know him a little better! And I can honestly say that his answers to my questions are so different than we're used to getting!
How did you get started doing what you do?
I didn’t take the most direct route, so that’s a rather long answer. But here’s the short answer: Fresh out of grad school, I joined a boutique marketing firm here in town that specialized in bespoke corporate events. It was an amazing place to work for a “kid” who was fresh out of school. It was a very hands-on environment where you were thrown right into the work and each day presented a different challenge. I worked with some incredibly talented people, one of which was Guyla Pircher. As a boss, she was tough and demanding, but she knew how to push and motivate someone to do great work.
Fast forward a couple of years and we both had moved on to different companies. Guyla called me and said that she was starting a new role at HGO, doing their special events, and asked if I would come work with her again. I knew zero about opera but knew that I enjoyed working with Guyla, so I jumped at the opportunity. Sadly, we lost Guyla a few years back to cancer, but 14 years later I’m still at HGO and can say that I now know a little more about opera than when I started.
What can we expect from the Opera in the coming year?
There is no doubt that the coming year is going to be challenging, but we are working on some really creative digital content that we will be producing for our audience to enjoy until we can return to live, in-person performances at the theater. These pieces are not just a rebroadcast of an opera we performed several seasons ago, but rather they are purpose-built pieces that we will be producing specifically for the digital environment. And herein lies the exciting part of all this because it means that we will be producing deserving projects that we wouldn’t normally have considered doing under normal circumstances. Our commitment remains – bring great art to the city of Houston, even if it is in a new format!
Keep an eye on our website for more information about these digital performances. They will be presented free of charge and I hope you will consider joining us.
How can one support the Opera during these difficult times?
This one hits close to home for me and I appreciate you asking. Due to COVID-19, HGO has canceled 33 of the 47 mainstage performances through February 2021. You can read more about the cancellations and how it has impacted the companyhere.
How can you help?
Planning our season starts years before the productions hit the rehearsal room. Hundreds of artists, staff, and technicians come together to bring Houston beautiful art. And, now they are being impacted by the cancellation of our season – it is heart breaking and painful. Additionally, for the first time in the organization’s history, we had to lay off 27% off our workforce. The staff remaining are taking a pay cut. We are doing what we can to ensure the future of our organization. The coronavirus pandemic continues to financially impact our organization, especially our artists who have seen 9-12 months of work evaporate almost overnight. HGO has led our industry by pledging to pay artists 50% of their canceled contracts to help ease their financial burden. We cannot navigate this crisis without your support. Your gift right now will make a critical difference.
OK, I realize it sounds really odd to suggest that you subscribe to a season that has largely been canceled, but allow me to explain. This is an investment in the future, a future that is brighter and better than today. When you subscribe, we are automatically rolling your subscription over to the following 2021-22 season and will provided complimentary tickets for Breaking the Waves and The Sound of Music when we reopen the theater this spring. Your subscription is a vote of confidence in the resilience of our city and our performing arts…it says you stand by us as will be there when we return.
- Stay in Touch
We have some wonderful digital content that we plan to roll out until we are able to safely resume live, in-person performances next spring. The specifics on these performances will soon be announced on our website and social accounts shortly. I encourage you to join us for these from the comfort of your home. Let us know your thoughts! Interact with us on social media – let us know what you are missing or what you would love to see in a digital format. We love hearing from our audiences. And, if you are new to opera – ask us your questions! We are happy to break down any barriers or share our favorite HGO moments.
What is your most used emoji?
Smiley face with tears of joy 😂
What was the worst haircut you ever had?
It’s bad – I plead the 5th on this one!
Who was your childhood actor/actress crush?
Gillian Anderson – X Files
What’s the most embarrassing fashion trend you used to rock?
As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I didn’t stand a chance – parachute pants, acid washed jeans, graphic print shirts, Hypercolor t-shirts…that’s only a start!
You have your own late-night talk show, whom do you invite as your first guest?
Easy, Bill Murray.
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, who would play you?
Comedy-drama; Bill Murray
You have to sing karaoke, what song do you pick?
I’m terrible at karaoke; well actually singing in general, so it would be one that required a group of people so I could blend in and pretend to sing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Don’t send ducks to eagle school”.
When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?
Wow, that’s heavy. I guess at the end of the day, I hope that people would simply remember me for being a good friend.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
According to a fancy and completely legit quiz that I took online, my autobiography should be called: I Dropped My iPhone in the Jungle and That’s a Metaphor, I Think.
What was the worst job you ever had?
Which band/artist-dead or alive would play at your funeral?
What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve travelled that feels like home and is not where you currently live?
I have always been drawn to the mountains of Idaho and Wyoming. I just love the ruggedness and beauty of the area. I think I could get used to living in a secluded cabin up in the mountains.
What’s one thing we don’t know about you?
See question number two 😊
If you could hang out with any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Chewbacca; Because Chewie is this larger than life character who could snap you in half with his bare hands, yet he is so gentle, relatable, and loyal to his friends.
If you could choose any person from history to be your imaginary friend, who would it be and why?
Hank Aaron – As a kid who loved the game of baseball, Hank Aaron was always this mythical figure to me. I was too young to ever see him play, but his legendary career wasn’t lost on my generation. He is most widely known for breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record of 714 and ultimately finished his career at 755 home runs, a record he held for 33 years. As a black player, he faced a tremendous amount of racially driven adversity throughout his career, including death threats. As white kids playing Little League baseball in suburban Houston, I can tell you that we saw him as a hero – perhaps that is his greatest accomplishment.
What is your favorite curse word?
Sorry mom, but I’m an F-Bomb type of a guy.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Fly fishing on a high mountain stream and not seeing anyone else all day.
What is your greatest fear?
Going camping and waking up in a sleeping bag filled with snakes.