In naming Anne Ewers as new general director of the Utah Opera Company, effective May 1, opera officials appear to have found a leader with a wealth of experience, solid administrative strengths and proven fund-raising skills.

Despite her relative youth, the 38-year-old Ewers has a remarkable background that made her the choice among 55 candidates in a nationwide search to replace the late Glade Peterson, who died last April. Peterson was the founder and general director of the Utah Opera Company.Ewers was former general director of the Boston Lyric Opera for five years and stage director for two years before resigning to do free-lance directing of operas the past year. She has directed productions in New York, Canada, Michigan and California. She also has been an assistant stage director at the San francisco Opera. She has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, reviewing artistic and administrative situations of opera companies all over the nation.

Clearly, Ewers brings a national reputation to Salt Lake City. Peterson once invited her to direct a Utah Opera Company production, but she was unable to accept at the time and has never seen one of the company's performances.

Her unique blend of artistic and administrative skills, coupled with infectious enthusiasm, are a combination that should help the Utah Opera Company to continue what has been exceptional success.

Most Utah performing arts organizations have had constant financial struggles over the years as they try to cope with debt, rising costs, and income shortfalls - a familiar story to art groups everywhere. The Boston opera had a $450,000 debt when Ewers first took the reins, but that was paid off by time she left.

However, the Utah Opera Company is something of an exception. The company has been in the black each of the past several years and has no major debt. It has an endowment fund and the three operas presented each year usually sold out.

The challenge will be to continue to build on that solid foundation, but Ewers appears to have the background, the skills and the talent to get the job done. She will be a valued and welcome addition to Salt Lake City.