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Dallas Opera names new director

George Steel, an impresario and conductor from New York City, has been named general director at The Dallas Opera, the company announced Tuesday afternoon.

Steel will begin Oct. 1. He will replace Karen Stone, who left Dallas Opera's general director post in fall 2007 after four years.

"The key to every performance that goes on at the Dallas Opera has to be that it be a thrilling experience," Steel said. "Rediscovering old music or uncovering some new 19th-century piece or doing an operatic standard or a 21st-century piece — it doesn't matter, it has to be riveting."

Steel, 41, has been executive director of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University since 1997. There, he presented and produced a wide range of programs, including contemporary and early music concerts, opera and ballet. He earned national awards for innovative programming.

As a conductor, Steel founded the Renaissance music Vox Vocal Ensemble, the period-instrument Gotham City Baroque Orchestra and the contemporary-music ensemble Gotham City Orchestra and Sinfonietta.

"The fact that I'm a musician makes me better at the job that I do," Steel said. "I relate to the programming in a very specific way; I relate to the audiences and the donors and my fellow performers in a very specific way. And I expect that that same thing will be true in Dallas."

At Columbia, Steel increased the Miller Theater's annual fund-raising from $120,000 to $1.35 million. At the Dallas Opera, he'll oversee 450 employees and an annual budget of $12 million. His salary was not disclosed.