William Mason, Head Of Lyric Opera Of Chicago, To Retire In 2012

09/06/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

CHICAGO — The general director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago says he will retire when his contract expires at the end of the 2011-12 season.

William Mason announced his retirement plans early Wednesday. The 68-year-old has served as general director since 1997.

The Chicago native began his operatic career as a child singer in the 1950s. In 1954, Mason sang the role of the shepherd boy in Lyric's first production of "Tosca," and repeated it two years later as part of a dream cast led by Renata Tebaldi, Jussi Bjorling (YOU'-see BYUR'-ling), and Tito Gobbi.

Mason joined the Lyric administration in 1962 under founding general manager Carol Fox and took over as general director after the death of Fox's successor, Ardis Krainik.