General Director

position opportunity

job title: 

General Director



General description:

The Santa Fe Opera invites nominations and applications for the position of General Director, available in October 2018. Charles MacKay, who has served with distinction since 2008, has announced his plan to step down at the conclusion of the 2018 Festival Season. A Search Committee has been created to identify the next General Director of The Santa Fe Opera. The Committee expects to recommend a candidate for appointment by the last quarter of 2017.

The Company:

The Santa Fe Opera is renowned worldwide for its contribution to a living art form and for the passion it inspires in performers and audiences alike. Set in the high desert of New Mexico, the Opera performs in an environment that is both mystical and magical and has become an annual gathering place for opera patrons and professionals from around the world.

The Santa Fe Opera's mission is to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality in a unique setting with a varied repertoire of new, rarely performed, and standard works; to ensure the excellence of opera's future through apprentice programs for singers, technicians and arts administrators; and to foster and enrich an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public.

The Opera was founded in 1957 by the visionary artist, educator, and administrator John O. Crosby who served as its first General Director. In 2000, Crosby was succeeded by General Director Richard Gaddes who retired in 2008 and was succeeded by the Opera’s current General Director Charles MacKay. Under their leadership over the past 60 years, The Santa Fe Opera has given more than 2,000 performances of nearly 164 different operas, including 15 world premieres and 45 American premieres. Casts and production teams are assembled from some of the finest talent across the United States and abroad. The Opera’s Apprentice Programs for Singers and Technicians are internationally recognized as some of the finest programs of their kind.

More than half The Santa Fe Opera’s audience of 85,000 comes from outside New Mexico; they represent every state in the union as well as roughly 30 countries. The Opera has a wide array of education and community outreach programs to make opera accessible and appealing to a broad spectrum of the New Mexico population. The unique Pueblo Opera Program serves Native American youth from nineteen pueblos and three reservations in the state. The Opera has become one of New Mexico's cultural and economic leaders; its impact on New Mexico's economy has been calculated at more than $200 million each year. 

The opportunity: 

As the fourth General Director in the Opera’s history, the next leader will build on a tradition that is fueled by a passionate pursuit of artistic excellence and an unwavering commitment to providing superior experiences for artists and audience alike. The next General Director will take the helm of an organization governed by a dedicated and engaged Board that can take pride in the Opera’s financial good health and a well-appointed campus with multiple buildings that house performance, rehearsal, production, office, and hospitality spaces. Building on recent success with world premieres of works like The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and Cold Mountain, s/he will have the opportunity to advance the development of a living repertoire with enthusiastic audience and philanthropic support.

The next General Director will have the opportunity to shape The Santa Fe Opera for the next decade and beyond; to realize the goals outlined in the Opera’s strategic plan; to lead the Opera’s pursuit of the highest artistic standards; and to strengthen the Opera’s reputation as an international destination where excellence in opera performance complements the breathtaking natural beauty the performance environment. ​

The position:

The General Director provides vision, strategic leadership, and direction for all aspects of the organization, both artistic and administrative. S/he manages the Opera’s human and financial resources to ensure that The Santa Fe Opera fulfills its mission and achieves its goals for artistic excellence and innovation; financial sustainability; education, community development and audience engagement; and organizational and infrastructure development.

The General Director is the chief executive officer of The Santa Fe Opera. S/he provides support, guidance, and impetus to the work of the Board and its Committees. S/he advises the Board on policy and ensures that the Board has the information it needs for decision-making. The General Director takes a major role in fundraising, including the identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of gifts.

The General Director manages a year-round staff of 70, which grows to 700 during the summer festival. S/he oversees an extensive campus with multiple performance, rehearsal, production, office, and entertainment spaces. S/he is the visible representative and spokesperson for The Santa Fe Opera in Santa Fe, the capital region, and the state of New Mexico and with the national and international press. S/he is a strong advocate for The Santa Fe Opera with the philanthropic community and the broad international opera community. 

candidate profile:

The ideal candidate will be a visionary leader with a strong artistic point of view about opera in America today and the ability to expand the role, reach, and reputation of The Santa Fe Opera locally, nationally, and internationally in the decade ahead. 

The successful candidate will have a thorough knowledge of all aspects of opera as a multi- disciplinary art form, including familiarity with repertoire and performance practices for all periods, baroque through contemporary; experience working with a diverse group of stage directors, designers, composers, librettists, conductors, and choreographers; an in-depth knowledge of voices; and proven casting ability.

The successful candidate will have the proven ability to manage the business of opera: to increase and diversify the audience for The Santa Fe Opera; to build and monitor production budgets; to achieve balanced budgets and meet goals for both earned and contributed income; and to recruit, engage, motivate, mentor, and evaluate staff. S/he will have successful experience overseeing fundraising, marketing, and public relations campaigns; building endowment; leading strategic planning; and negotiating co-production, media, and collective bargaining agreements.

The successful candidate will have the skills, experience, and personal qualities specifically required of the CEO of The Santa Fe Opera, including the ability to oversee the many campus facilities and the personnel who staff them; the ability to engage the diverse community of Santa Fe, the region, and the state of New Mexico; and the willingness to be an active participant in the Santa Fe community.

While the position entails professional travel, the General Director is expected to be a full-time resident of Santa Fe; to lead a year-round staff of 70; and to be active in local community life. The Santa Fe Opera owns a town house in Manhattan, which is available to the General Director and opera staff as needed. 


Compensation, including benefits, is competitive. The Santa Fe Opera owns a nearby residential property that is available to the General Director both as personal residence and as a venue for entertaining artists and patrons. 


Applicants are asked to submit a resume with a cover letter that describes qualifications and interest. Please include salary history or requirements and contact information for three professional references. All applications will be considered confidential and references will not be contacted without the applicant’s permission.

We ask that materials be sent electronically. Resumes should not exceed five pages and applications should not include reviews or press notices.

Please send to:

General Director Search/The Santa Fe Opera
c/o Catherine French Group

Please submit material in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word format, only.