In a surprise announcement made mid-afternoon yesterday, Canadian Opera Company’s General Director Alexander Neef has taken a second appointment as the first Artistic Director of Santa Fe Opera.
Neef will be working under the guidance of SFO General Director Robert K. Meya. Meya’s appointment was also announced by the SFO board to succeed incumbent Charles MacKay, in addition to British conductor Harry Bicket being named as Music Director.
“Santa Fe Opera is one of the most renowned cultural organizations in North America and I am thrilled to join its team,” said Neef in a statement. “The COC and Santa Fe both share an uncompromising commitment to artistic excellence, as evidenced by the successful co-productions we’ve mounted together in recent years. I look forward to working with Robert Meya and Harry Bicket as we explore the infinite possibilities of opera in the 21st century.”
Neef’s appointment builds upon on a long-standing relationship with the COC and the SFO, which includes productions of Richard Strauss’ Arabella (2017) and Rossini’s Maometto II (2016). Prior to Neef, Richard Bradshaw conducted the North American première of Hans Werner Henze’s Venus und Adonis at the SFO in the summer of 2000, later bringing the work to Toronto the following season at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (Then known as the Hummingbird Centre).
The SFO has known primarily as an opera company focused on the summer festival season, but operates education programs for singers and theatre technicians year-round.
Having just extended his contract with the COC through to the 2025/26 season this past October, the move shows ambitions by Neef to expand his personal brand, which is still largely unknown in the US, and likely more collaborations between the COC and the SFO.
SFO asked the COC Board of Directors for its blessing and argued that it would benefit both companies to share such a close relationship through Neef.
“We understood that Alexander had just signed a long-term contract at the COC, so we had no hope of bringing him to Santa Fe until Robert Meya, our General Director Designate, proposed to us that Alexander might be able to do both jobs,” President of Santa Fe Opera Susan G. Marineau.
“With the addition of Harry Bicket assuming the role of Music Director in Santa Fe, we are confident they will create beautiful music together,” Marineau added.
Neef will take on the new role effective October 1, 2018.
LUDWIG VAN TORONTO