The company announced the news yesterday following the board's August meeting. Gaddes has not set a firm resignation date, agreeing to remain on the job until a new general director is hired.
"After much reflection, I've concluded that the time is right to begin active succession planning," he told the board. "I have reached age 65, and the company is in a strong artistic and fiscal position. During my immensely rewarding career here, Santa Fe has become my home, and I intend to remain involved with the Opera for as long as it takes to ensure a smooth transition."
Only the second general director in the company's 51-year history, Richard Gaddes came to Santa Fe Opera in 1969 as artistic administrator. He left in 1978 to become general director of Opera Theatre of St. Louis, which he had co-founded with the late Colin Graham two years before. Gaddes came back to Santa Fe in 1988 to head the company's young artist program, and ten years later he succeeded company founder John Crosby as general director.
Last summer Opera News included Gaddes on its list of "the 25 Most Powerful Names in U.S. Opera."
Santa Fe Opera board president Susan F. Morris is chairing a Transition Task Force which has been formed to oversee the selection of a new general director.
Speaking for the board of directors, Morris said in a statement, "There are not words that can express our great appreciation and gratitude ... Under Richard's leadership, The Santa Fe Opera has been clearly established as the premier festival of opera in the United States, on par with the very finest European festivals. Since Richard, has, happily, afforded us the luxury of remaining with us until such time as the appropriate succession plan is in place, I look forward to our ongoing collaboration during that period."