It has been tacitly assumed on the board of the Metropolitan Opera that, if Peter Gelb fell under a bus or was otherwise obliged to leave, one of the first three persons to be called would be Alexander Neef, general director of the Canadian Opera Company.
Neef, 43, a German with enviable networking skills, has put Canadian opera on the world map over the past decade. He is smart, resilient, efficient and, unlike Gelb, personable and interactive.
On Friday, Neef (pictured) agreed to be part of a new troika in charge of Santa Fe Opera, giving him hands-on experience in a US enterprise and a close connection to major donors.
While staying in charge at COC (where his contract runs to 2026), he will hold the title of artistic director at Santa Fe, alongside the Englishman Harry Bicket as music director and Robert K. Meya as general director. Meya, 44, has been the company’s major fundraiser. He is married to the South African soprano Amanda Echalaz.
The trio succeed Charles MacKay, who retires this summer.
How long Neef hangs around before New York calls is a matter of conjecture.
not Peter Gelb