Two Artists/Administrators Bring A Multitude of Talent, Skill, and Experience to the FGO Staff
Two Florida Grand Opera stalwarts are stepping into new spotlights in 2023. Former Studio Artist Manager Matt Cooksey has been named FGO’s new Director of Artistic Operations, while popular South Florida bass-baritone Neil Nelson steps into the Studio Artist Program Manager role.
Cooksey joined the FGO staff in October 2021 as Artist Services Manager, after serving as the Resident Assistant Director at Indianapolis Opera for several years. In summer 2022, he was promoted to the Studio Artist Program Manager. FGO audiences will recognize him as the pre-show lecturer for mainstage performances and for his Matt in a Minute videos introducing FGO’s upcoming operas and concert series. In addition to his arts administration skills, Cooksey is an accomplished stage director, writer/arranger, baritone, and lighting designer. Recently, he made his professional mainstage debut at Indianapolis Opera, where he directed a world premiere double-bill of Brundibár by Hans Krása and Vedem by Lori Laitman featuring the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. He also recently assisted Metropolitan Opera director Paula Suozzi in her production of Falstaff at the Aspen Opera Theater, featuring Byrn Terfel in the title role. He has directed five touring presentations for elementary and middle school audiences, including two original pieces – The Three Sillies and The Tales of Cats and Mice – and his adaptation of Berlioz’s Beatrice and Benedict. Cooksey will make his FGO stage-directing debut this season with The Barber of Seville.
Jamaican-American bass-baritone Neil Nelson’s most recent roles at FGO were as the Emperor Claudius in Agrippina and Count Monterone in Rigoletto during the 2021-2022 season. In his new role as Studio Artist Program Manager, Nelson is responsible for guiding the artistic development of FGO’s exclusive cadre of early-career performers. A graduate of The New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in music performance, Mr. Nelson has performed operatic roles domestically and abroad with prestigious companies such as Tatarstan Opera Theatre and Ballet (Kazan, Russia), Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Orlando Opera, Opera Naples and many others. His musical passions extend to oratorio and concert singing. He has appeared as a soloist in concert with ensembles such as the South Florida Symphony (with whom he made his debut performance as Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess), the Lynn Conservatory Orchestra, the Ocean City Pops, and the New England Conservatory Orchestra. Nelson’s many South Florida fans need not fear his disappearance from the stage: upcoming engagements include the Dark Angel in Kurt Weill’s Road of Promise with Orchestra Miami, the bass soloist in Bruckner’s Te Deum with the South Florida Symphony, and the Sacristan in FGO’s upcoming production of Tosca.
General Director and CEO Susan Danis said, “This is an amazing team that will help lead the artistic direction of Florida Grand Opera. The breadth and depth of experience and knowledge these two men bring to our company is tremendous. We all are looking forward to great things under their leadership.”