9 November 2007

Charles MacKay to Succeed Richard Gaddes as General Director of Santa Fe Opera

Charles MacKay
Santa Fe Opera general
director elect, MacKay

© Ken Howard 2007
Santa Fe Opera announced today that Charles MacKay has been named as the company's new general director, effective October 1, 2008. MacKay, who is currently the general director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, will succeed Richard Gaddes, who on September 30 retires from Santa Fe Opera.

When he takes office in October, MacKay, who is fifty-seven, will be only the third general director in Santa Fe Opera's fifty-one year history. A Santa Fe native who went on to attend the University of Minnesota, MacKay began his musical career at the New Mexico company where, originally a member of the opera's orchestra and orchestra assistant, he later became its box office manager and then its business manager. He spent a total of ten years at Santa Fe prior to leaving in 1978 to work as the director of finance and administration for South Carolina's Spoleto Festival. In 1984 MacKay was hired by Gaddes - then Opera Theater of Saint Louis's general director - as the company's executive director and, in 1985, went on to succeed Gaddes. MacKay's tenure with the Saint Louis company has lasted some twenty-three years.

"The board feels that Mr. MacKay is ideal to lead the Santa Fe Opera," said Santa Fe Opera board president Susan F. Morris in a press release issued by the company today. "His tenure in St. Louis has made the company outstanding among our nation's opera companies. He has the artistic, fiscal and administrative skills we feel mesh perfectly with the Santa Fe Opera. Mr. MacKay is fully prepared to handle the myriad duties of general director. He will continue the legacy of John Crosby and Richard Gaddes, expanding their vision and sense of mission. He is a natural for this position and I could not be more delighted than to announce this appointment."

During his time at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, MacKay has bolstered the company's endowment from $682,000 in 1985, to its current $20 million. Likewise, the company's annual budget has grown from $2.8 million to more than $7 million, with no debt accumulated. Under his incumbency, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has presented thirteen world-premieres - seven of which have played on the company's mainstage - as well as a number of well-received American premieres and revival productions, including recent new productions of John Adams's Nixon in China and Britten's Gloriana. In addition to his time at OTSL, MacKay also serves as chairman of the board of OPERA America, a national service organization for the opera industry.

"The board of directors made a wise decision in selecting Charles MacKay as general director," Gaddes commented. "He is a superb administrator, an innovative thinker and highly regarded colleague. The Santa Fe Opera will be in very good hands, indeed."

"One of the great pleasures of returning to my roots will be renewing friendships and discovering new ones," said MacKay. "Already I am fortunate to know many of the current and longtime supporters of the Santa Fe Opera, many of the artists who've appeared there over the years and many members of the staff. It's a first-rate team of dedicated, generous and talented people and I am truly excited to have the chance to work with such an outstanding group of friends and colleagues. I am deeply grateful and will always be indebted to John, to Richard, to Susan Morris and to the board of directors for giving me this wonderful opportunity."

MacKay will formally be introduced to Santa Fe Opera's board of directors during its February 2008 meeting.

More information can be found at Santa Fe Opera and the OPERA NEWS Archives (here and here).

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