ëPolishí Not Change for Santa Fe Opera

ìI expect to refine and polish Santa Fe Opera, as much as I can ñ though
it is fine shape right now ñ but my mission is to help continue the
successful tradition established by founder John O. Crosby and continued by
Richard Gaddes. My first interest in opera was developed by Crosby, who gave
me as a youngster, jobs at Santa Fe Opera. Gaddes, who retires in 2008, has
been my friend for years and predecessor at Opera Theatre of St. Louis,î
MacKay told this reporter.

Susan F. Morris, prominent New York philanthropist and society figure,
board chairman of the Santa Fe Opera, headed the search team that rather
promptly identified MacKay as the successor general manager and announced in
recent weeks his appointment, effective October 2008. ìCharles has had an
extraordinarily successful, debt and deficit-free, 22-year career at Opera
Theatre of St Louis…and high artistic and musical standards have marked
Charlesís career there,î Mrs. Morris said recently.

Perhaps repertory is the place where MacKay will eventually make his most
distinctive mark. ìLook for more American opera; keep in mind I love French
opera, and I admire Britten, also Wagner, though he is difficult to present
in an outdoor theatre,î the New Mexico-born intendant said. ìI similarly
love Mozart and Strauss, and so do audiences; we will not be abandoning those
traditions at Santa Fe Opera, not under my direction.î

ìDer Rosenkavalierî is mentioned in conversation with MacKay, but so
is ìAnthony and Cleopatra,î the 1966 opera of Samuel Barber. Barber
revised and refined the opera after its initial failure at the Metropolitan
Opera, and when MacKay was on the staff of the Spoleto Opera Festival in
South Carolina, the piece enjoyed a successful revival there, which was
recorded. MacKay also admits to interest in unusual repertory such as ìKing
Roger,î a little-known 1926 work of Polish composer Karol Scymanowski.

ìI wont be reaching my full profile with Santa Fe until the 2011 and
2012 seasons,î MacKay noted, ìas artists are contracted for specific
roles so far ahead, and have to be.î MacKay, 57, will ìsupport
commitments for new commissions and other plans put in place by Gaddes,
including a commissioned opera based on Somerset Maughamís short novel The
Letter, which is also famous as a motion picture. The new opera is scheduled
for season 2010 with music by New York composer Paul Moravec, and libretto by
journalist Terry Teachout.

MacKay has western American heritage, and strong musical roots, as the son
of two amateur musicians and singers, who were natives of Colorado and
Wyoming respectively, John and Margaret MacKay. He grew up surrounded by
vocal music, both at home and from his boyhood years attending Santa Fe
Opera, where he remembers hearing top rank singers. ìIt marked me for
life,î he laughs. Santa Fe Opera remains in safe hands and in the Crosby
tradition. One can look forward to innovative repertory now and then, but the
old maxim ìif itís not broke, donít fix itî will surely apply to the

© 2007 J.A. Van Sant

image_description=Charles MacKay
product_title=Above: Charles MacKay