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Kenneth G. Pigott, Lyric Opera president and CEO, dies at 71

Kenneth G. Pigott, Lyric Opera president and CEO who was instrumental in bringing opera diva Renee Fleming and new general manager Anthony Freud into the opera company’s administration, died Friday.

“In the few hours since his passing, we have only begun to grasp the depth and breadth of this unimaginable loss,” Freud said in a statement late Friday. “Ken was a truly unique man. He was a visionary whose wisdom and passion transformed the lives of everyone at Lyric, and at the many organizations with which he was associated. He is irreplaceable.”

Pigott, 71, had served on Lyric’s board since 1998 and as president and CEO since 2011.

As president, he led an eight-month search to replace retiring director William Mason. He also helped persuade international opera star Renee Fleming to join the Lyric as a vice president and artistic adviser.

According to the opera company, Pigott led a strategic-planning process that resulted in unanimous board approval for a new fiscal plan, “which combines the core values of excellence, relevance and fiscal responsibility.”

Pigott was managing partner of Vaduz Partners LLC, a private investment company specializing in information technology services, but kept a low profile in Chicago’s business world. He was a board member of OPERA America, the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Chicago Children’s Hospital and the Merit School of Music. He also was a major backer of Chicago’s unsuccessful effort to win the 2016 Olympics.

Pigott graduated from Iowa State University and Harvard Law School and was a former partner in the Chicago law firm of Winston and Strawn, according to Bloomberg Business. He had lived in Winnetka and, more recently, Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Survivors include his wife, Jane.

Memorial services are still being planned.