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Video Published: 05 Feb 2024

NEA Opera Honors: An Oral History with Richard Gaddes

In 2008, general director Richard Gaddes was awarded an NEA Opera Honors award and sat down for an interview about opera and their life.

This interview was originally posted by the NEA on June 3, 2010.
The Oral History Project is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. 

Richard Gaddes, general director

Richard Gaddes (1942–2023) spent most of his professional life guiding and raising the profile of two American companies: the Santa Fe Opera, from which he retired as general director in 2008, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. In 1969, at the invitation of Santa Fe Opera founder John Crosby, Gaddes became the company's artistic administrator. He founded Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 1976 and ran it until 1985, but remained a consultant to Santa Fe. He returned to the Santa Fe Opera fulltime in 1994, and later succeeded John Crosby as general director. Throughout his tenure at both companies, Gaddes made a reputation for programming adventurous repertoire, building audiences, and spotting young stars before others did. A former vice president of OPERA America, he served on many arts boards and was a member of the board of directors of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. His list of honors includes the National Institute for Music Theatre Award and the Young Audiences’ Cultural Achievement Award.

Richard Gaddes was a 2008 recipient of the NEA Opera Honors, a program administered by the National Endowment for the Arts from 2008 to 2011. The NEA Opera Honors recipients are now recognized in OPERA America’s Opera Hall of Fame.

Oral History Project

Discover the full collection of oral histories at the link below.