TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.Lipton, 76, was the company's second artistic director, succeeding 17-year director Anton Coppola in 2012. He had completed five years of a six-year employment agreement, said Judith Lisi, president of the Straz Center, where Opera Tampa is based. His resignation is effective immediately.In a statement released Friday by the Straz Center, Lipton cited an eagerness to pursue other projects."I have truly loved being a part of the Opera Tampa family these past five years and look forward to many more opportunities in the future," he said. "I am very fortunate and honored to have followed in Maestro Coppola's footsteps and feel that I have furthered his legacy during my time here."Coppola retired in 2012 at age 95. Lipton played a key role in continuing a company founded in 1995 amid skepticism that opera could flourish in the Tampa Bay area beyond the Sarasota Opera."We enjoyed a very nice five years with him," Lisi said. "He's a fine conductor and we wish him well."While not expected until 2018, Lipton's resignation did not come as a shock, she said."Next year was his last year, so it didn't really surprise me too much," Lisi said. "If it's good for him, then it's good for us. I'm sure we'll miss him," she added.Lipton could not be reached for comment by the Tampa Bay Times. In a previous interview, he said his contract with Opera Tampa required him to live in Tampa six months out of the year. He maintained a residence in Germany and conducted in other countries.Lisi said Opera Tampa is lining up guest conductors for next season, which starts Feb. 2 with The Barber of Seville.Contact Andrew Meacham at (727) 892-2248 or [email protected] . Follow @torch437.