2008 NEA Opera Honoree
Richard Gaddes, who recently retired as general director of The Santa Fe Opera, first came in 1969 as its artistic administrator and has been associated with the company ever since. In 1976 Mr. Gaddes was invited to establish the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He remained its head until 1985 when he became chief executive of St. Louis's Grand Center. Mr. Gaddes continued to serve The Santa Fe Opera as consultant during the eighties and in 1994 he returned to Santa Fe permanently. In May 1998 Mr. Gaddes was named to succeed Founder/Director John Crosby. He has been General Director since 2000.
In St. Louis Mr. Gaddes developed a reputation for nurturing young talent, discovering singers and giving them opportunities to perform Important roles. The company also became known for performing new and unusual repertory.
Born in England, Richard Gaddes studied at Trinity College of Music in London. He inaugurated a series of lunchtime concerts at Wigmore Hall designed to give performing opportunities to young musicians. After leaving Trinity he formed his own artists management company and later joined Artists International Management representing musicians worldwide. It was there that he met John Crosby, who invited him to come to Santa Fe. Mr. Gaddes was instrumental in Kiri Te Kanawa's American debut at The Santa Fe Opera in 1971.
As General Director Mr. Gaddes has brought to Santa Fe the most important singers, conductors, directors and designers from this country and abroad. He has continued and broadened the company's long-standing commitment to the performance of new and rarely performed works. Mr. Gaddes has greatly expanded the company's outreach and presence throughout New Mexico including a series of fall community productions. Another first for the company was the 2004 simulcast of La sonnambula to downtown Santa Fe, followed by the 2007 simulcast of La bohetne to Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
Mr. Gaddes is a former Vice President of Opera America. He has served on panels of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Institute for Music Theatre (formerly the National Opera Institute) and as consultant for the William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. He is a frequent judge at national and international voice competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.
The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Mr. Gaddes has been cited by Mu Phi Epsilon International Music Fraternity, St. Louis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America Lamplighter Award, as the first annual Missouri Arts Award honoree, the Human Relations Award of the St. Louis Jewish-American Committee, National Institute for Music Theatre Award, and Young Audiences' Cultural Achievement Award. He has received honorary doctorates from St. Louis Conservatory and Schools for the Arts, University of Missouri and Webster University.
He has been honored by the Mayor of Santa Fe for his contribution to the arts, and by New Mexico Business Weekly as one of the 2005 "Top 10 Power People in the Arts." In September 2006, Mr. Gaddes accepted a Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts from Governor Bill Richardson in honor of the company's 50th anniversary.
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