Creative New Zealand the Arts Council of New Zealand mourns the loss of international opera singer, sports administrator and Southern Opera founder Christopher Doig.
“Chris was a remarkable man, and in many ways a force of nature,“ says Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright. “Not only was he a celebrated artist in his own right, he also used his knowledge and experience to champion the idea of arts-business partnerships because he never saw the obstacles others saw, he only saw opportunity.”
“His generosity was extraordinary, and even during his illness he considered himself to be a fortunate man. His drive and determination was manifested in the extraordinary efforts he went to bring Placido Domingo and Katherine Jenkins to Christchurch. Chris knew that this event would strike a chord with Cantabrians, lift spirits and bring the community together. The sold-out concert ensured that key Christchurch arts organisations were financial beneficiaries.”
Christopher Doig was appointed Chair of the Arts Council in May 2006, before leaving in early 2007 to take up the role of Executive Chairperson for Southern Opera ensuring the survival of opera in the South Island.
Born and educated in Christchurch and graduating from Canterbury University with a Masters degree in English. Chris was a former director of the 1990 and 1992 New Zealand Festivals, and had been a professional singer for more than 25 years.
After winning the 1972 Mobil Song Quest he became a principal tenor at the Vienna State Opera and spent the next 10 years singing in the major opera houses in Europe including Stuttgart, Hamburg, La Scala, Barcelona, Linz and Cologne, and the Salzburg and Vienna Festivals. In 1995 he relinquished his full-time singing career to become the Chief Executive of New Zealand Cricket, a job in which he distinguished himself transforming NZC into a dynamic vibrant modern business and sporting organisation, until he resigned in March 2001.
In 1992 he received a prestigious Green Room award for his performance as Herod in Australian Opera’s Salome and was awarded the OBE for his services to the arts. In more recent years he revitalised the sponsorship of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra spearheading their campaign to secure sponsorship for their overseas tours.
Chris was the Director of the New Zealand International Arts Festival from April 1988 to April 1992. During that time the Festival started producing its own opera beginning with Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which was an enormous success and garnered the festival a much needed public profile At the same time, he introduced a fringe festival, a school’s programme and began to umbrella New Zealand work, including bringing Jim Moriarty on board to develop and programme a season of Maori work Te Raku Hua O Te Wao Tapu. He also introduced the dawn ceremony, which has started every festival since, as acknowledgement of the contribution made by Maori culture to the festival.
Chris managed his own business as a consultant specialising in the sports, arts and entertainment sector, and had a number of directorships.