11 August 2017

Charles MacKay to Step Down as Santa Fe Opera's General Director Following 2018 Season

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CHARLES MACKAY, general director of Santa Fe Opera, has announced his intention to step down from his post at the conclusion of its 2018 season, the company announced today. 

At the company’s most recent quarterly board meeting, MacKay requested that Santa Fe Opera’s board of directors begin to plan for a leadership transition slated to occur at the end of next season. Only the third general director in the company’s history, MacKay, 67, will have spent a decade in his post by the time he concludes his tenure. 

“Next season marks fifty years for my career in opera, including two decades with the Santa Fe Opera and ten years as General Director here,” MacKay wrote in a letter to patrons. “As I hope you know, this company has been dear to me since my first Youth Night performance of Die Fledermaus at the age of nine. After that unforgettable evening I was hooked, and thus began a lifelong love affair with the Santa Fe Opera, where I started as a 13-year-old parking lot attendant and went on to positions with the orchestra, backstage, and in the business office. Returning home to lead this company was an incredible honor, and I am deeply grateful as I reflect on my years here.”

Santa Fe Opera’s board has established a search committee to find MacKay’s successor and appointed Susan G. Marineau, president of Santa Fe Opera’s board, and Sarah Billinghurst Solomon as its co-chairs. The company’s 2019 season has already been planned, and, according to a statement by MacKay, planning for the 2020 season is nearly complete. 

“Charles’ tenure at Santa Fe Opera has been remarkable,” Marineau said in a statement issued today on behalf of the board. “Considering the company’s unwavering artistic excellence, sound financial stability, vast improvement in facilities, and symbiotic relationship between Board and staff, 2008-2018 will have been a very successful decade for the company. We have a strategic plan and repertory planned through 2020. We have a talented staff and a dedicated board. We have developed resilience and an organizational depth to handle this change. Change is part of life, part of how we grow and adapt. I have complete confidence in the future of Santa Fe Opera.”

MacKay’s tenure has been notable for several financial, infrastructural and artistic benchmarks. After his 2008 appointment as general director, MacKay oversaw the competition of a significant capital campaign and subsequently launched Santa Fe Opera’s $45 million “Setting the Stage” campaign, which is reportedly nearing completion; he charged a significant renovation of the company’s front-of-house facilities as well as its backstage shops. Since 2008, the company’s net assets have nearly doubled from $61 to $121 million, and its operating budget has grown from $17 million to $24 million, without taking on any debt. Under his artistic leadership, Santa Fe Opera commissioned five mainstage world premieres, including Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain in 2015 and Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs in 2017. MacKay has presided over the presentation of fifty-one productions of forty-eight different operas, forty-three of which were new productions. In addition to the five world premieres, MacKay has overseen one American premiere and twenty company premieres. Additionally, MacKay has expanded the company’s education and community outreach initiatives, with the company’s programs having served nearly 52,000 children and adults in New Mexico. He has also overseen the development of young artists in the company’s apprentice program for singers and technicians. 

Prior to becoming Santa Fe Opera’s general director, MacKay served as general director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis from 1985 through 2008. He also served as director of development and finance at the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

MacKay began his career in Santa Fe Opera’s orchestra, in which he played French horn. He went on to manage the company’s box office, and subsequently held the positions of Development and Sales Manager and Business Manager. spacer 

More information can be found at Santa Fe Opera



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