The Santa Fe Opera has announced that David Lomelí, the Dallas Opera’s director of artistic administration, will become its chief artistic officer, a new position that comes after two major staff departures.
Lomelí’s position, effective May 1, is a consolidation of the artistic directorship — held since Oct. 1, 2018, by Alexander Neef — with the director of artistic administration, long held by Brad Woolbright until his retirement Dec. 31.
Neef’s tenure here will have been brief. He joined The Santa Fe Opera while also serving as the Canadian Opera Company’s general director. He left the position in August to head up the Opéra national de Paris, one of the world’s largest companies. His Santa Fe employment ends July 31.
“We started out interviewing candidates for the artistic administration job,” said Robert Meya, general director of the Santa Fe Opera, in a recent interview, “but after learning more about David and his skill set, we realized he could fulfill many aspects of both positions. I like to say that David has ‘ears of gold’ when it comes to identifying wonderful young singers, and that is such a key part of our artistic identity.”
Lomelí will be based in Santa Fe. Previously, the company’s artistic operations have been based in New York, with the staff relocating here for the summer season.
For now, the other two members of the opera’s artistic department will continue to be based in New York while the company evaluates the need to maintain such a significant East Coast presence.
“Opera is much more global now than it was in our earlier years,” Meya said. “It’s also important for us to see and hear what’s going on Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other American venues, and we can do that as easily from Santa Fe as from New York.”
Lomelí arrives in Santa Fe with his current employer singing his praises.
“David and I sang together when we were younger,” Dallas Opera General Director Ian Derrer said in an interview, “and when I came here in 2014 as artistic administrator, he was my assistant. I immediately promoted him to director of artistic administration when I became general director four years later.
“David is also a great innovator,” Derrer added. “When the pandemic struck, he originated and curated our online programming, called TDO Network, which has already had more than 90 million viewers.”
Prior to moving into arts administration, Lomelí was a tenor who performed leading roles with San Francisco Opera, LA Opera and the Glyndebourne Festival opera, among other companies. His sole appearance in Santa Fe was as Rodolfo in the 2011 staging of Puccini’s La bohème.
Lomelí was also a member of the young artist programs at the San Francisco and Los Angeles companies and winner of the first prize in the opera and zarzuela categories of Plácido Domingo’s 2006 Operalia vocal competition.
He has a degree in computer science engineering from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico and one in international marketing from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.
The 39-year-old Lomelí is married to soprano Sara Gartland. They met in 2009 as artists at San Francisco Opera and now have a son, Tomás.
The Santa Fe Opera’s 2021 season is scheduled to open July 10.
“We’re not sparing any expense where audience and company member safety is concerned,” Meya said, “and I’m very optimistic that the season will take place as planned.”
The repertory includes Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the world premiere of The Lord of Cries by composer John Corigliano and librettist Mark Adamo, along with two evenings of opera scenes by the company’s apprentices and a concert with orchestra by soprano Angel Blue. Further information is available at sanfeopera.org.