Citing "personal reasons," Ian White-Thomson abruptly resigned as executive director of Los Angeles Opera in September 2001 -- five months shy of his three-year contract. Without going into detail, White-Thomson acknowledged later that his role as administrative and financial officer alongside artistic director (now general director) Placido Domingo had become "more pain than fun."
Now White-Thomson finds himself back at the opera -- but on the other side of the table. The American Guild of Musical Artists, representing singers and dancers, has tapped him as its chief spokesman during ongoing contract negotiations with the opera company.
In an interview with The Times, White-Thomson, a former chairman and chief executive of U.S. Borax Inc., was quick to insist that his new role does not represent "a campaign of vengeance or anything like that. It's a very amicable tone, I would say, for the moment at least."
White-Thomson says he consulted former colleagues on the opera company's board of directors about his new post. "If there had been a tremendous sort of feeling of betrayal or whatever, I wouldn't have done it," he said. "Both the union people and my friends at the opera agreed that someone who knows both sides of the story could be constructive."
Los Angeles Opera declined comment, saying it would be inappropriate during negotiations with the union.