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Leadership Team Updates Announced at The Santa Fe Opera


Dramaturg, Director of Development, and Chief Financial Officer have been appointed

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Santa Fe, NM — General Director Robert K. Meya announced three leadership updates at The Santa Fe Opera.

Cori Ellison, who formerly served as staff Dramaturg at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and New York City Opera, has been appointed as The Santa Fe Opera’s Dramaturg. She will work closely with the executive team on new works development both for the main stage and education programs, production dramaturgy, and communications. She will also provide support to the community engagement programs of the opera and will lead this summer’s Adult Seminar.

Allison Swenson, Senior Major Gifts Officer since January 2016 at SFO, has been named Director of Development. Allison will lead the development team, oversee an annual development program with a $9.5 million goal, and be responsible for a portfolio of major donors and prospects. She will also support the General Director and the Board of Directors in their fundraising efforts. Allison’s career has included roles at The Glimmerglass Festival and in the Office of the General Director at The Santa Fe Opera, as well as Event and Donor Relations Manager at Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Heather Kemp, Director of Finance for the past eight years, has been given the new title of Chief Financial Officer, which reflects her significant responsibility in the company’s financial management, her success in working with her colleagues to balance the Opera’s operating budget, and her exemplary role in managing the Opera’s fiscal policies.

The Santa Fe Opera Theater

Leadership Biographies

Cori Ellison

Cori Ellison is a leading creative figure in the opera world today. Most recently, she served as staff Dramaturg at the Glyndebourne Festival and, between 1997 and 2010, as Dramaturg at New York City Opera. She is active in the development of new works and was a key figure in the recent world premieres of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian at Canadian Opera, Brett Dean’s Hamlet at Glyndebourne, and Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves at Opera Philadelphia. She is a founding faculty member of American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program. Dedicated to nurturing young singers, Ms. Ellison is a member of the Vocal Arts faculty at The Juilliard School, where she teaches History of Singing, and at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute Program for Singers, where she coaches and curates recital programs. She has presented talks and appeared on panels and symposia throughout the US and Europe including at the Santa Fe Opera, Metropolitan Opera Guild, Carnegie Hall, Royal Opera House, Ireland’s Wexford Festival, and Switzerland’s Verbier Festival. She frequently appears as a commentator and quiz panelist on the Metropolitan Opera’s radio broadcasts and has been a regular contributor to publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Opera News, Gramophone, and BBC Music, among others.

Allison Swenson

Allison’s career has extended over 12 years, and she has held positions with The Glimmerglass Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and a prior position with The Santa Fe Opera in the General Director’s office. She holds a degree in Music and Integrated Marketing Communications from Ithaca College.

Heather Kemp

Heather Kemp came to work for The Santa Fe Opera in March 2010 as the Director of Finance and Accounting. Upon graduating from Truman State University with both a BS and MA in accounting, Ms. Kemp began working for Rubin, Brown, Gornstein & Co, a regional accounting firm based in St. Louis. There she obtained her Missouri CPA license and began to specialize in the real estate and non-profit industries. One of her favorite clients during this time was Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. When Ms. Kemp left public accounting in 2001 she joined the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis as their Director of Finance and then became the Director of Finance of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2005.

The mission of The Santa Fe Opera is to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality in a unique setting with a varied repertory 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.