Obituary: Richard Gaddes, General Director & Founder of Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Passes Away

By Afton Wooten
(Photo credit: Daniel Barsotti)

Richard Gaddes, the founder and General Director of Opera Theatre of St. Louis passed away Dec. 12.

Gaddes was an alum of Trinity College of Music in London. After college he worked as concert promoter and formed his own artist management company. John Crosby invited him to come to Santa Fe as the company’s artistic administrator. Later he was brought to St. Louis initially to help establish a new opera company, his consulting role quickly turned to visionary leader and founding general director.

During his tenure with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the company produced the first opera in America to be broadcast by the BBC (Albert Herring, 1977) and became the first American opera company to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival. He stepped down from Opera Theatre in 1985 and returned to the Santa Fe Opera as associate general director and succeeded John Crosby as the company’s second general director in 2000.

Throughout his career Gaddes served on several artistic boards, was an advisor and counselor, and a mentor to other leaders in the opera world. He is best remembered for his ability to spot talent, and his willingness to take a chance on young singers.