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Commentary

Richard Bradshaw
16 Aug 2007

The Week that Was for Opera: Santa Fe — Dallas — Denver/St Louis — Toronto

The week just ended was certainly of historic moment in the world of North American opera companies.

Above: Richard Bradshaw, general director of the Canadian Opera Company

 

The sudden and sad death of Richard Bradshaw, 63, the English-born head of Canadian Opera, Toronto, who served that company for thirty years and died at Pearson Airport last evening (August 15) while returning from holiday in the Maritimes, is the capstone to an unusual series of events over recent days.

On August 8 announcements came from Santa Fe that Richard Gaddes, long associated with that opera company, and its head since 2001 would leave at the end of the 2008 season, a surprise to many. At the same time Dallas Opera was announcing the departure next month of Karen Stone, their general director for the past four years.

Today, August 16, Opera Colorado at Denver announced the departure of its two top executives, Peter Russell, General Director, who is leaving in two weeks, and James Robinson, Artistic Director, who departs in 2008. It is expected that Robinson will assume the position of artistic head at Opera Theatre of St Louis, vacant since the death of Colin Graham last May. Four top executives and one top artistic administrator in the relatively small world of opera, all named for change within one week. The mind reels! Bradshaw’s position at Toronto was especially imposing, as for 30-years he had labored to build Canadian Opera and had succeeded, not only in developing the Company’s scope and quality, but he last year completed the building of a new opera center, and conducted therein Toronto’s first Wagnerian Ring Cycle. Bradshaw’s historic accomplishments will long be remembered in Toronto.

Santa Fe Opera developed under the direction of its founding manager, John O. Crosby, who was succeeded by Gaddes in 2001. Gaddes previously held other positions at Santa Fe and for ten years was General Director of the opera company in St Louis of which he was a founder. Russell and Stone had briefer tenures with their companies and made lesser records. The new Ellie Caulkins opera house in downtown Denver opened during Russell’s years and was favorably received. In an unusual move, Mrs. Susan Morris, President of the Board of Santa Fe Opera announced in a press release that she would be pleased to receive confidential letters addressed to her at SFO’s New York office, with any comments or suggestions concerning new management at her opera company.

J. A. Van Sant © 2007

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