Santa Fe may be a southwestern paradise, but we locals do leave on occasion, even if the time of year is foreboding…and even when the foreboding is borne out in fact! When the weather delays that froze up 2/3 of the country kept this Santa Fe traveler in the Big Apple with additional time to fill, a business trip bestowed unexpected pleasures that more than made up for the 30-hour return trip (which also yielded renewed appreciation for the stamina and commitment of our guests, who sometimes arrive so tired!).
Since I am one of our Santa Fe Opera‘s most ardent fans, extra time meant that a visit to the Metropolitan Opera was inevitable. Waiting through the long months between seasons here in Santa Fe makes having the “opera-tunity” to see a live performance especially delightful. While I have been solaced monthly by the Met simulcasts shown locally at the Lensic Center, nothing really compares to that opening moment when the conductor steps onto the podium and the lights go down. It’s simply thrilling! Thanks to our excellent local Opera company, I had last seen Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra back in the summer of 2004, when Mark Delavan sang the title role and Patricia Racette, a Santa Fe favorite, sang the role of his daughter, Amelia.
Our rapidly-changing Santa Fe weather always contributes an element of danger (the possibility of wild winds, lightning and thunder) that suits lush historical tales like this one. No fear of weather ensconced safely indoors at the Met, however, where the sense of danger came from the story, full of intrigue and big brassy horns, not to mention Dmitri Hvorostovsky‘s silver mane! It was a stunning performance, and I came away with the satisfaction of finally seeing James Levine on the podium, a long-held desire. Now that long-held desire has transmuted into patiently waiting for opening night here in Santa Fe, which takes place on Friday, July 1, 2011, with a new production of Charles Gounod’s Faust, led by chief conductor, Frederic Chaslin and director Stephen Lawless. Faust…now that’s a dangerous story!
While waiting for my rescheduled departure, I headed for the other Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where a photography exhibition of works by Stieglitz, Steichen and Strand was on display. Nice alliteration on that title and a very serendipitous Santa Fe sense of familiarity for a visiting New Mexican! While I have seen some of Alfred Stieglitz’s beautiful photos of Georgia O’Keeffe at our wonderful O’Keeffe Museum, in an exhibition of this size, there were naturally some exciting discoveries. Beautiful partial nudes and detailed photos of O’Keeffe’s gorgeous (and talented) hands spoke volumes about the deep connection that bound these two artists together.
It’s no surprise that photographer Paul Strand also spent plenty of time in New Mexico, as have so many artists of all persuasions. Interested parties can peruse the fruits of his labor with a copy of Paul Strand Southwest from our local Photo-Eye Gallery and Bookstore located in Santa Fe on Garcia Street, just a short stroll from the Inn. Even Edward Steichen has a NM connection, with the 1995 book published by the University of New Mexico Press, Picturing an Exhibition: The Family of Man and 1950s America. In this book, author Eric Sandeen presents a study of Steichen’s historic exhibit and its subsequent global influence, along the way examining the exhibit’s origins, Steichen’s beliefs and background, and the aim of his image selection, all reflected through the lens of the 1950s. Steichen’s work in the Met exhibit certainly demonstrates his broad array of interests, but there’s always something else to be learned from the back story, especially when the opportunity to learn is found so close to home.
And in a wintery, blustery city with 7-foot high snowbanks, isn’t finding hometown connections one of the comforts of travel? Now if the Big Apple only had our great green chile (an immediate visit to Atrisco ensued upon return), a lonely Santa Fe traveler would never feel far from home!
Santa Fe Opera Photographs courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera, all rights reserved. Alfred Steiglitz Photograph ©Georgia O’Keeffe Museum