It was announced yesterday that Mark Richter is retiring. Today he has sent this note:
Dear Friends of the San Antonio Opera,
Effective, November 15, 2011, I will be stepping down as General/Artistic Director of San Antonio Opera. My life has been rich these past 16 years. Helping to build San Antonio Opera from an idea into a major regional opera in the country has been the most gratifying experience in my life. There comes a time when the parent has done all it can do and must let go to follow other passions, as with so many other founders of organizations. After producing 61 operas, my fondest memories have been working with not only the exceptional talent that has performed in San Antonio, but the people who continue to make it all happen. Your opera staff is small, but powerful. They work hard, do many different tasks and receive very little pay and recognition. These professionals are the heroes of the organization.
It has been my great fortune to learn and work with some of our city’s most iconic leaders such as Lila Cockrell, Phil Hardberger, Edith McAllister, Nelson Wolff, Bruce Bugg and Jeanie Wyatt. I support them as they have supported me. My admiration goes out to all patrons and members of past boards that have supported and continue to support the opera through the years. This has always been your opera company and my work helping the company succeed is but a reflection of the generosity you have shown during these 16 years. Please continue this support as I join your ranks as an enthusiastic patron of the opera.
Things have certainly come full circle these past years, evidenced by watching adults that were introduced to opera through the company’s education programs, now returning to San Antonio as accomplished opera singers, as well as opera supporters and season tickets holders. All of my goals and wishes for the company have come to fruition, including finding a permanent home for the opera. Knowing that this will happen in 2014 at The Tobin Center fills my heart with pride. Most importantly, the goal of making San Antonio a regional spotlight for opera, again, after a 50 year tradition set by the San Antonio Symphony, has also been accomplished. My concentration has always been on finding the best voices to sing for our dedicated patrons. Many of these operatic talents are tomorrow’s superstars, such as the mega talent we have been fortunate in presenting in our city, such as Placido Domingo, Andre Bocelli and Jose Carreras. Concerts such as these have garnered national acclaim for San Antonio.
My emotions and respect run very deeply for the incredible musicians that accompany each opera, some of whom have played in the opera orchestra for 15 years. The opera is extremely fortunate to have such loyal talent in the pit. It has been my great honor of working with some of our city’s fine vocalists through the years, especially the opera’s very talented and hard working chorus. These passionate singers give so much and do it entirely for the love of the art. There have been friendships made with agents, artist managers and fellow opera associates through the years. My greatest hopes are they remain strong and productive, as new leaders of the opera continue to enhance the reputation of producing with high standards of excellence.
The decision to leave the San Antonio Opera was a difficult one to make, but the desire to pursue other passions and avenues in my life is a powerful calling. At 26, my ambition chose a door to enter which has led me to a treasure of filled with music and friends. Now at 43, there is an excitement hoping that the next door in my life will be as wonderful as the last. I may be leaving San Antonio Opera, however it will always and forever be close to my heart.
Mark A. Richter