DE222: Honoree: Brendan Cooke
Title: General Director
Alma Maters: Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, Loyola Univerity of New Orleans
Boards: Arts Consortium of Delaware
Q&A: What was your first job? “My fist job was in a one-screen movie house where I cleaned the theater, sold popcorn, and developed my lifelong love of storytelling.
Brendan Cooke’s love of art runs deep, having launched the Baltimore Concert Opera in 2008 after the collapse of the Baltimore Opera Company with $700 in personal funds. He led that start-up company to exponential growth before joining the prestigious Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as group sales manager. In 2012, he moved to Wilmington to take over OperaDelaware, the 11th oldest opera company in the country. The classically trained opera singer has helped the Delaware company reach new heights through a new “festival” format that has garnered international attention. After leading through the COVID pandemic, Cooke emphasized the company’s “pop-up” performances with a mobile stage and has now put on more than 100 al fresco shows.