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At Memorial Service, Louisville Remembers Kentucky Opera's David Roth

Louisville’s artistic community gathered at the Brown Theatre Thursday to honor David Roth, Kentucky Opera’s general director who died unexpectedly on July 19.

The memorial included music and remembrances from Roth’s many colleagues and friends, a proclamation from Mayor Greg Fischer, and a video that Roth made for the Fund for the Arts in which he spoke about the value of art in the community. Singers Kara Shay Thompson and Jon Burton performed music from the opera “Tosca,” which Roth directed at Kentucky Opera in 2012.

Former Fund for the Arts president Barbara Sexton Smith was the emcee for the event, and she emphasized the connection that Roth had with the Brown Theatre itself.

“Welcome to the Owsley Brown the Second Center for Artistic Excellence, and the WL Lyons Brown Theatre, but we all call this David’s house,” Smith said.

Karl Renninger, past president of the Kentucky Opera board, spoke movingly of Roth, comparing him to Puccini. The composer didn't live to complete his final opera.

“David didn’t write Italian opera, but he had so much music in him that we will never experience. Last week, his earthly music stopped, and we are stunned," Renninger said. "But the music must continue, which means that each of us must take up the task and complete David’s masterpiece."

Roth was a native of Wisconsin and had led the Kentucky Opera since 2006. He was 56 years old.