Charles MacKay

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Charles MacKay (born May 1950, Albuquerque, New Mexico) is an American arts administrator, currently the General Director of The Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico. He is the son of John and Margaret MacKay and a graduate of Santa Fe High School and of the University of Minnesota.

Early experience at The Santa Fe Opera[edit]

As a youth, he played the French horn, and played in the orchestra of Santa Fe Opera (SFO) at age 17. He was a volunteer with Santa Fe Opera at age 15, and began to work in administrative capacities with SFO at age 18.[1] He worked at SFO as an orchestra librarian,[2] in the business office and painting stage scenery.[3] Subsequently with SFO, MacKay also held several administrative positions, including box office manager, assistant orchestra manager and business manager, the last position for 4 years.[4][5]

Involvement with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis[edit]

After leaving Santa Fe, his other administrative positions include a 6-year tenure as director of finance and administration for the Spoleto Festival USA, from 1978 to 1984. For 5 years, he was the manager for the American artists at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

However, in 1984, MacKay became executive director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL), recruited to the post by OTSL's first general director Richard Gaddes. In 1985, MacKay was named OTSL's second general director, after Gaddes stood down from the post. During his tenure, MacKay presided over the growth of OTSL's endowment from USD $682,000 to $18 million, and maintained the company's record of never posting a deficit. He also raised funds for the construction of the Sally S. Levy Opera Center, the company's first permanent administrative facility, which was completed in 2006.

As General Director of The Santa Fe Opera[edit]

In November 2007, SFO named MacKay as its third general director, succeeding Richard Gaddes who was retiring. He concluded his OTSL tenure on 30 September 2008,[3] and began his tenure as SFO general director on 1 October of that year.

While he had some involvement in the planning of the 2009 festival season, the 2010 season was essentially programmed by MacKay. It contained nods of appreciation and dedication to John Crosby, SFO's founding director, by opening the season with Madame Butterfly (Crosby's 1957 opening night and the opening night of new 1968 theatre which followed the 1967 fire), as well as to Richard Gaddes, whose interest in the operas of Benjamin Britten was reflected in the inclusion of Albert Herring in the program.[6]

In 2010 and subsequent seasons, MacKay has brought several significant works to Santa Fe which had never been performed there. They include The Tales of Hoffmann in 2010 and Faust in 2011. In the 2012 season, The Pearl Fishers was added to the list of significant firsts for the company, in addition to two others, Maometto II (a major opera seria by Rossini in a new critical edition) and Karol Szymanowski's King Roger. In 2013, Rossini's La donna del lago received its Santa Fe premiere in a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera. The 2014 season saw the first Santa Fe production of Beethoven's Fidelio.

Additionally, MacKay's tenure has been characterized by working in collaboration with several opera companies across the United States on co-productions, some of which have been US or world premieres of new operas. In addition to the Met, these companies have included Minnesota Opera (Strauss' Arabella in 2012) and Opera Philadelphia (the Morrison / Cox Oscar in 2013).

Other achievements[edit]

MacKay is a 1997 recipient of the Arts Management Career Service Award. He has served as chairman of the board of Opera America since 2004, and concluded his tenure in that post in June 2008.[3]


  1. ^ Craig Smith (2 July 2009). "The circle will be unbroken". Santa Fe New Mexican (Pasatiempo). Retrieved 9 October 2009. 
  2. ^ Driscoll, F. Paul (June 2008). "Hail and Farewell". Opera News. 72 (12). Retrieved 9 August 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c Miller, Sarah Bryan, "Opera Theatre’s Charles MacKay will take the helm at Santa Fe Opera". St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9 November 2007.
  4. ^ Craig Smith (10 November 2007). "Opera taps native son as director". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved 8 December 2007. 
  5. ^ Matthew Westphal (9 November 2007). "Santa Fe Opera Appoints New General Director". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 8 December 2007. 
  6. ^ Details of the Santa Fe Opera's 2010 season on

External links[edit]