Santa Fe Opera Premieres

July is the month for Santa Fe Opera premieres! This past weekend brought the riveting and seldom-seen drama, Maometto II, composed by Giaochino Rossini, better known to opera audiences for his comic operas. Coming this weekend is King Roger, by Karol Szymanowski, and the last premiere, Richard Strauss’ Arabella debuts in the last week of July.

The Santa Fe Opera Theater

The story of Maometto II concerns the attempted conquest of Italy by the Turks, and the action takes place in the Venetian city of Negroponte, during a siege. The commander of the city, Paolo Erisso, is challenged to save both his populace and his daughter, Anna. Little does he know that Anna has fallen in love with the Turk, Maometto, who met her while disguised as an Italian. When she realizes exactly who her lover is, she chooses kin and country, losing her life in the process. To put flesh to the bones of this story, some truly tour-de-force singing takes place over the course of two vocally punishing 90-minute acts.

Anna and Maometto II; photo by Ken Howard

The role of Maometto is impressively sung by bass-baritone, Luca Pisaroni, who physically and emotionally embodies the character with skill. He sounds great and looks great in equal measure, and it’s not often that you have the opportunity to hear a low voice doing such vocal calisthenics. Leah Crocetto’s liquid singing brings both passion and pathos to the role of Anna; she’s young and believable, and wow, can she sing! We look forward to hearing both of these artists perform in the Santa Fe Concert Association’s Festival of Song, Leah Crocetto on July 22 and Luca Pisaroni on August 5. Anna’s father, Erisso, is ably and nobly sung by tenor Brian Sledge, and the pants-role of his general, Calbo, is brought to life by mezzo-soprano, Patricia Bardon, pouring her whole heart and voice into the role.

Venetians Under Siege: Calbo, Anna and Erisso; photo by Ken Howard

The scenic and costume designs by Jon Morrell were striking, and the lovely contrast of the noblewomen’s jewel-toned gowns to the stark white backdrop were evocatively lit by a  favorite Santa Fe Opera regular, Duane Schuler. Director David Alden moved the principals, chorus and dancers to measured and thoughtful effect. Music Director Frederic Chaslin led a lively orchestra, and the sustained pace kept this listener (who is NOT a music critic, just a diehard opera enthusiast) from sensing the actual length of each act.

A Terrific Chorus Too; photo by Ken Howard

We are loving the new start times, 8:30pm in July and 8:00pm in August. They do not detract at all from the action, and in fact, with the right staging, the backdrop of the New Mexico sky is a glorious addition. Keep in mind that some summer evenings can be cool and rainy, so bring that pretty shawl to stay warm.

The New Mexico Sky Plays Its Part

The Opera shuttle picks up right at the Inn’s doorstep, and with five new productions, this is a Santa Fe Opera season to cherish. We’ll be there to see each and every production, multiple times, we hope!

Santa Fe Opera…Summer Season At Last!

The Santa Fe Opera, 7 miles north of Santa Fe on Highway 84/285

800-280-4654 http://www.santafeopera.org/tickets/index.aspx

“I have longed for the sound of your voice.” So sings Nadir in Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. And that’s an apt reflection of  my feelings as I pine for la bella voce each year, waiting for the Santa Fe Opera season to begin.

This season is notable for bringing five, yes, five, new productions to opera lovers. The internet “tells” me that 5 is the number representing divine grace, and there’s a blessed synchronicity in that thought for this, the Santa Fe Opera’s 55th season. Three of the productions are new to the company, Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers; King Roger, composed by Karol Szymanowski and first performed in 1926; and Giacomo Rossini’s Maometto II, written in 1820 but performed this summer in a new edition prepared by Dutch scholar, Hans Schellevis. The repertory is rounded out with Giacomo Puccini’s riveting Tosca, not seen here since 1994, and, in a nod to founder John Crosby’s favorite composer, Richard Strauss, a new production of Arabella, last performed in Santa Fe in 1997.

Good fortune gave me the opportunity to hear Tosca and The Pearl Fishers last week, and although I was familiar with the music from both, I had never seen either in performance. It doesn’t take much expertise to predict that these will both be big hits for the company this summer.

Tosca and Cavaradossi, Passion and Puccini: Photo by Ken Howard

Scarpia Gets What He Deserves: Photo by Ken Howard

Tosca, with SFO Music Director Fredric Chaslin in the pit, offers a big dose of drama, along with Puccini’s always-memorable arias. And there’s an exciting back story this year, too! One week before opening, tenor Andrew Richards who was to have sung the critical role of Cavaradossi, was forced to withdraw due to severe allergies. While we regret his misfortune, the flurry around a last-minute replacement never fails to excite. Brian Jagde, who already had prepared to sing the part at the San Francisco Opera in the fall stepped up to the SFO stage in admirable fashion and acquitted himself commendably with a rich, full tone and youthful ardor. Congratulations to him for his stamina and willingness to add this to his previously-scheduled role in Arabella in later in the season! Floria Tosca is sung by Amanda Echalaz, who did not hold back at all in a passionate portrait of a diva who has “lived for art… lived for love.” We can always count on Italian opera for a hard-bitten villain, and Scarpia, as sung by the baritone Raymond Aceto, did not disappoint, with leers aplenty complementing his liquid voice. Puccini’s scoundrels always act so bad, but sound so good! Noted baritone Thomas Hampson returns to sing Scarpia for the last performances in August, after a long absence from Santa Fe.

Nadir and Zurga, The Pearl Fishers: Photo by Ken Howard

Lovely Voice, Lovely Leila, The Pearl Fishers: Photo by Ken Howard

Also just opened is Georges Bizet’s luscious The Pearl Fishers, luminous in every aspect. A first for SFO, this early work from Bizet, while not as complex as his Carmen, is full of memorable melodies and is energetically conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. The story begins as two old friends reunite, vowing to stay loyal despite their prior passion for the same woman, who, you guessed it, shows up again, this time as a temple vestal whose virginity protects the pearl-diving community. With its exotic setting in Ceylon (today’s Sri Lanka), this opera has Brahma for its divinity, but in typically operatic fashion, there’s a love story at its core. The maiden in question is the strikingly well-cast Nicole Cabell, whose liquid  soprano has beautiful tone and control, and who embodies both the sworn temple guardian and the sensuous woman in love. Her paramour Nadir is portrayed by Eric Cutler, fortunate indeed to have some really gorgeous tenor lines with which to demonstrate his ability. And in the role of Zurga, his friend and rival, baritone Christopher Magiera masterfully shows both jealous rage and compassionate forgiveness in equal measures.

YOUR seat awaits!

What’s next? Maometto II, also conducted by Frederic Chaslin, premieres on Saturday, July 14 at 8:30, with bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni in the title role. King Roger, directed by the highly-regarded Stephen Wadsworth and conducted by Evan Rogister, opens on Saturday, July 21, also at 8:30pm, with the terrific Polish baritone, Maruisz Kwiecien taking the lead in his native tongue. And Strauss’ Arabella, opening on Saturday, July 28 at 8:30 pm welcomes Erin Wall back to the Santa Fe stage as Arabella, with the orchestra led by Sir Andrew Davis.

Feed the Body First, then the Soul!

And don’t forget that you can go early, beat the parking crush, and enjoy a tailgate picnic like so many do, although the picnic tables are for the really early arrivals…everyone else, bring furniture!

Silent Mountains, Musical Nights

Another hit season has begun, so don’t wait too long to get your tickets,and the Opera Shuttle will pick you up right here at the Inn! And byt the way, the new earlier start times – 8:30pm in July and 8:00pm in August – are great! This opera fan (never posing as a music critic, mind you) is thrilled to be back up on the hill, watching the sun go down and the stage lights come up!

Glorious Sunsets, Glorious Music

Summer in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Yes, it’s summer, and the sunsets have been glorious, as will be the summer arts scene in the City Different.

Santa Fe Sunsets are Memorable

The Santa Fe Opera season opens on June 29th with a gala performance of Puccini’s Tosca. This year’s repertoire should be an opera fan’s delight, with five, count ’em five, new productions: In addition to Tosca, you can enjoy Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, Karol Szymanowski’s King Roger, Giacomo Rossini’s Maometto II, andArabella by Richard Strauss, founder John Crosby’s favorite composer.

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival kicks off on July 15th and runs through August 20th, with many familiar names. The Orion String Quartet will return, as will flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni will take a night off from his opera duties to sing in town. And Santa Fe welcomes Alan Gilbert, conductor of the New York Philharmoic and former Music Director of the Santa Fe Opera, to the stage for several viola performances.

The Santa Fe Bandstand brings free music to the Santa Fe Plaza Monday through Thursday nights at 6pm beginning on July 5. Mondays and Wednesdays also feature concerts at noon, with all performances running through August 16.

The big arts events are all scheduled to return, with the exception of the SOFA show, which was sadly cancelled for this year.

Matluba Bazarova, featured Folk Artist from Uzbekistan

Handmade SilK and Felt Scarves from Kyrgyzstan

The 12th annual ART Santa Fe returns to the City Different from July 12-15. TheSanta Fe International Folk Art Market takes place on Museum Hill on July 13-15, followed shortly by the 61st Annual Spanish Market on July 27-29. And it wouldn’t be August without SWAIA’s Indian Market, with the 91st iteration taking place on August 17-19.

What’s new in Santa Fe? The Santa Fe School of Cooking is moving to its new digs on July 1st, with ground level access and their own parking lot. The new location is at 125 North Guadalupe Street.

317 Aztec has taken over the space of the former Aztec Cafe, bringing a focus on raw salads, juices and vegan/vegetarian items. The sorely-missed Plaza Cafe has yet to re-open, but we are watching the progress on Lincoln Avenue. The Palace Restaurant is definitely back in the saddle, complete with red-flocked wallpaper and the talents of Joseph Wrede, formerly of Joseph’s Table in Taos, headlining the kitchen. And there’s a patio in back!

The Sun-Dappled Patio at La Casa Sena

Speaking of outdoor dining, a patio does make for a wonderful evening, and the patio at Restaurant Martin is as gorgeous as the food. SantaCafe is always a stellar outdoor choice, and La Casa Sena has renovated their menu along with their patio. The patio at The Compound is always peaceful and cool, and the Coyote Cantina (sorry, no reservations) is always a lively scene.

Since your time may be better spent enjoying a daytrip, we are always happy to discuss dining options or make dinner reservations for you; you just need to call us at 888-984-2121 for suggestions or assistance.

Take a Daytrip into Beautiful New Mexico, Photo by Eric Swanson

Let us be YOUR Santa Fe!

Viva La Fiesta de Santa Fe

The big art events are behind us, the Opera season has concluded, and now it’s time for the Santa Fe locals to have a party….a party that’s almost 300 years old! Although the City of Santa Fe celebrates its history and heritage throughout the year, Fiesta de Santa Fe heralds the approach of autumn with all of its attendant glories, fresh green chile, golden aspens and refreshingly cool mornings, welcome after the heat of summer. Viva La Fiesta de Santa Fe!

Welcome to Our Party!

Fiesta events encompass somber recollections of the past in conjunction with the delights of the present, in short, they offer a little bit of everything for everyone. Although the Fiesta Council works diligently throughout the year to ensure that the Fiesta court has been chosen and the event schedule coordinated, the majority of  Fiesta events take place during the week that coincides with the Labor Day holiday.

The annual Labor Day Arts and Crafts Festival takes place all day on the Plaza through Monday, September 5th, and local artisans will be on hand to talk about their work. Music will ring out at the Fiestacita at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center on Tuesday, September 6 from 6:30-9:00 p.m. And if you simply must have the music continue, there will be two more opportunities to enjoy the happy sounds of the trumpet and guitarron at a Concierto de Mariachi at the Lensic on Wednesday, September 7 at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Lovin’ That Guitarron!

History buffs can make an afternoon visit to the New Mexico History Museum on Wednesday, September 7, and return at 6:30 p.m. to learn more at an informative lecture, entitled “Death Along the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro 167o,” presented by Dr. Joseph Sanchez.  Dr. Sanchez examines the dramatic escape of Bernardo Gruber, branded as a witch by the Spanish Inquisition.

Thursday is given over to the burning of Zozobra, Old Man Gloom, a 50+ foot puppet (for lack of a better term), who offers Santa Fesinos the opportunity to put an end to the dark thoughts and distractions of the year. This annual conflagration, created by artist Will Shuster in 1924, pre-dates Nevada’s Burning Man by 60-some years, and advance tickets are advised. Following the burning of Zozobra, the revelry flows down to the Plaza, for music, munching and merriment. With on-field attendance at 25K, take note that Zozobra is NOT for agoraphobics or the faint-at-heart!

If You Think He Looks Big Here…

The firm commitment made to La Conquistadora in 1712 to commemorate the re-conquest of Santa Fe after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 includes several religious events, including the Pregon de La Fiesta at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, September 9, in the historic Rosario Chapel. There will be a Pontifical Mass celebrated by Archbishop Sheehan on Sunday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m., that starts with a Procession from the Plaza to St. Francis Cathedral. And Fiesta events also end on a more solemn note, with a Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, September 11, at 7:00 p.m. at the beautiful Cathedral, followed by a candlelight procession to the Cross of the Martyrs.

Like all small towns, Santa Fe loves a parade, and Fiesta offers two to enjoy, complete with marching bands. On Saturday September 10 at 9:00 a.m., the children of the City Different bring out their pets, both live and stuffed, for the unique Pet Parade, Desfile de los Ninos, where you might encounter a lizard dressed as Don Diego de Vargas or a few adorable Senorita Barbies! Sunday, September 11 is the Desfile de La Gente, aka the Hysterical/Historical Parade, in which residents poke fun at local figures and national events. And speaking of hysterical, clapping, stomping and booing are all welcome behavior at the Santa Fe Playhouse, when the Fiesta Melodrama, anonymously penned each year, skewers pols and prima donnas alike.

I Love a Parade!

Entertainment takes place all weekend on the Plaza Bandstand, with folkloric dance, traditional music, and Fiesta garb galore. The Gran Baile takes place at the Community Convention Center on Saturday night, September 10, at 7:30 p.m.; you’ll certainly see some fancy Fiesta fashions there. And food booths will be wafting tempting aromas around the downtown streets throughout the weekend.

Our Fiesta de Santa Fe holds a very special place in our hearts, and we invite you to join us as we fondly declaim, “Vivan Las Fiestas! Que Viva!”

Santa Fe Opera Marathon

The Santa Fe OperaHighway US 84/285

For tickets: Box Office 505-986-5900 and 800-280-4654, or by email boxoffice@santafeopera.org

Truth be told, my outing was actually a trifecta, rather than a marathon, but perhaps you’ll get the idea. Over the years, I have wondered what it would be like to attend multiple performances in a single week at our wonderful Santa Fe Opera, so I took finally took the opportunity to learn for myself.

John Crosby’s Brilliant Idea

Every year, the opera offers subscription rates that are a good 20% lower than standard prices, and these options include a trio, quartet or quintet of performances. Since the box office is both intelligent and understanding, these performance blocks always take place in August, when the curtain time drops down to 8:30pm for the first two weeks and then to 8:00pm for the last two weeks. If you know you’re up for a full dose of grand music, then this is definitely the way to go!

With my faithful opera companion in tow, I started this opera trifecta with The Last Savage, Gian Carlo Menotti’s forgotten opera buffa, premiered in 1963 at the Opera Comique in Paris. Aided by the able stagecraft of all departments, Director Ned Canty has boldly brought this neglected gem back to life. Simply put, entertainment in spades! Fluffy, yes, but stuffed with characters and ideas that make one think and so beautifully sung. In fact, we loved it so much, we went back again, bringing an 11-year-old for her first SFO experience, as this production is a perfect introduction to the joys of opera.

Let’s Look at the Story

I make a point of not reading the program before I see the performance, but even without seeing the credits, as the lights went down and the sprigtly sounds floated up, years of attendance at SFO told me immediately that the talented George Manahan was in the pit for The Last Savage.  Baritone Daniel Okulitch was alternately touching and tough (and buff!) in the role of Abdul, the aforementioned Savage, who learns the difference between the savagery of the jungle and that of the city, discovering that he wants “no more of your false light that so deceived me.” Listening to Anna Christy, the soprano who “tames” this savage, one is simply awed by the big voice coming out of this single-minded little package.  Kevin Burdette gave an amusing performance as Kitty’s father, Mr. Scattergood, evincing both perception and distraction as an American millionaire and over-indulgent father. Jamie Barton and Thomas Hammons made a convincing royal couple as the Maharanee and her Maharajah, while tenor Sean Pannikkar sang ardently as their son, Kodanda, secretly in love with the sweet-voiced Jennifer Zetlan as Sardula. And oh, those hilarious dancing servants; choreographer Sean Curran, we thank you!

Savage Loose in the City!

The Savage and His Mate

Our next outing brought us to Antonio Vivaldi’s Griselda, representing SFO’s commitment over the years to mixing the baroque with the lyric, the early centuries of opera with the more recent past.  With director Peter Sellars, one always knows that there will be a surprise, and indeed, this staging was no exception. Framed with a massive backdrop painted by L.A. artist Gronk, and with the firm hand of Grant Gershon guiding the orchestra (including a theorbo!), a stellar cast brought this challenging and somewhat cruel story to life in a distinctly modern setting.  As the lowly-born but truly loving Queen Griselda, contralto Meredith Arwady kept her innate majesty intact throughout the series of trials and tribulations imposed by her husband King Gualtiero, sung by tenor Paul Groves. Soprano Isabel Leonard was sweetly innocent as their long-lost daughter Costanza, and in her Santa Fe Opera debut and first ever pants-role as Griselda’s would-be lover, Ottone, Amanda Majeski was silken and persuasive. The embarrassment of vocal riches in this baroque piece includes the rarity of two, yes two, counter-tenors, David Daniels and Yuri Minenko, both ably demonstrating their unusual gifts. The story line and libretto offer concepts of love, loyalty and leadership to ruminate upon, with Griselda’s comment that “the wise helmsman knows the proud fury of the waves” seeming quite apt in these highly-charged political times.

The Royal Family

And a Regal Cast

Our opera week came to a denouement with Alban Berg’s powerful and sorrowful Wozzeck. A revival of the 2001 production mounted by SFO, this season’s production felt fresh and fit the story perfectly, with scenic design that was claustrophobic and crazy by turns. With the terrific Richard Paul Fink embodying the title role, it was impossible not to grieve for this tormented character and his seemingly inevitable fate. Nicola Beller Carbone gave an intense performance as his unfaithful lover, who reaps the nasty consequences of her actions, leaving an orphaned son behind. (As an aside, I take this moment to note how terrific all the child actotrs have been this season; as the opera folk say “Toi, Toi, Toi! to all the kiddies.) Supporting characters were well-cast, with the ever-so-slightly menacing Eric Owens as The Doctor, Stuart Skelton as the self-satisfied Drum Major, and Robert Brubaker as the unnervingly hysteric Captain, who expresses the timely sentiment that he’s “scared for the world when I think of eternity.” Indeed!

Good Soldier Wozzeck and His Captain

Say a Prayer for Doomed Marie

Yes, a marathon of performances is doable, I did it and so can you, since there is still time in which to do it. Although the summer is waning, the Santa Fe Opera season runs through August 27, and rumor has it that tickets are still available. Curtain time for these last two weeks is a very reasonable 8:00pm, and that means you can go to sleep to hear beautiful music in your dreams and still wake up early enough to enjoy the great Santa Fe weather. The soaring chorus may tell us in song that “In this world, all things must change…,” but the glorious musical theater that the Santa Fe Opera brings us every year changes only for the better.

Images by Ken Howard, courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera, all rights reserved.

Santa Fe Opera Here and Now!

The Santa Fe Opera, Highway US 84/285

For tickets: Box Office 505-986-5900 and 800-280-4654, or by email boxoffice@santafeopera.org

The Santa Fe Opera: Photo by Robert Godwin

It’s a fact that some times of year are just more exciting than others. And for Santa Fe and its myriad of opera-lovers, that time of year is right now! A July 1st opening night found this opera fan (who, it must be noted, is not a music critic) delighted to be in attendance at the Santa Fe Opera‘s first-ever performance of Charles Gounod’s Faust. A devilish tale of life lessons, laced throughout with haunting melodies, Gounod’s grand opera premiered in Paris in 1859 with a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. Based on Carré’s play Faust et Marguerite, which was in turn fashioned after Goethe’s Faust, Part 1, this is the story of an aging philosopher, who re-discovers the passion and excitement of youth, just as he is ready to take a suicidal exit from his wearying existence. How to get that new lease on life? Simply forfeit your soul to the devil! A cautionary tale indeed, since the result is “the torment of eternal remorse,” as Faust himself so tellingly puts it.

Energetically conducted by Frederic Chaslin, at the beginning of his first full season as the Opera’s Music Director, Faust came to life with an orchestra that sounded rich and sprightly throughout, and Craig Smith’s loan of an electronic organ was nicely worked into the staging. The production was inventive and exciting, the costumes were appropriately evocative, and the incidental music was choreographically well-served. Mark S. Doss cut an impressively commanding figure as Mephistopheles, and Bryan Hymel’s interpretation of the title role was nuanced and assured. Ailyn Perez sweetly voiced the role of Marguerite and sorrowfully embodied her character’s tragic fate, in the face of repudiation by her brother, Valentin, portrayed with honesty and strength by Matthew Worth. Jennifer Holloway, memorable as Price Charming a few seasons back, sang the role of the young lover, Siebel, with passion and grace (I confess, I do love a pants role). One leaves the theatre with deep satisfaction after such an engaging premiere, especially when the 3.5 hour running time seems to pass so quickly! Bravo!

Yes, The Devil Made Them Do It! Santa Fe Opera Photo: Ken Howard

Dancing Beauties are Dazzling in Faust! Santa Fe Opera Photo: Ken Howard

Founded in 1957 by the late John Crosby, a young conductor and devoted Richard Strauss fan (Strauss’ Arabella returns for the 2012 SFO season) from New York, the Santa Fe Opera was born out of a desire to give American singers an opportunity to learn and perform new roles in a peaceful rural setting with plenty of time to acclimate to the mountain air and rehearse accordingly. While Mr. Crosby himself spent plenty of time in the pit, engaging young conductors have been welcomed by the orchestra and the audience alike. From its humble beginnings, with wooden benches and a roof-less stage, over the course of the last 54 years, the Santa Fe Opera has grown into a powerful cultural and economic engine for the Land of Enchantment. Its reputation for daring new productions and commissions attracts both artists and patrons to the tune of about $200 million annually. That’s not chicken feed, particularly for a state rich in culture if not in cash!

Opening night is always a wonderful event, not only for the performance, but also for tail-gating parties and those who like to observe and learn from them. From a simple pair of TV trays to white linens and crystal flutes, it’s all out there in the parking lot, and we have our beautiful outdoor Crosby Theater to thank for this opportunity to dine al fresco. Bring your own or reserve a picnic, either way, it’s a whole lot of fun. One may conceivably be able to wolf down a sandwich on the fly outside Lincoln Center, but it’s not quite the same as sitting down under a beautiful sunset enjoying fine food, favorite friends and the frisson of excitement generated by the knowledge that the orchestra is tuning up and the lights are about to go down.

Tailgating Deluxe and Delicious

Also making its opening appearance over the weekend was Giacomo Puccini’s perennially popular La Boheme. Premiered in Turin in 1896, with a richly emotional libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, this enduring favorite was based a set of tales by Henri Murger entitled Scènes de la Vie de Bohème. Performed in ten previous seasons at SFO, this lyrical opera never fails to thrill, from the first notes right through to the sad denouement. What’s not to love about a love story? Especially when when it’s an Italian opera conducted with passion and verve by an Italian conductor, Leonardo Vordoni, leading a cast of beautiful voices, headed by tenor, David Lomeli, and soprano, Ana Maria Martinez! Although mine was a dress rehearsal experience, no one held back – Mr. Lomeli sang ardently, and Ms. Martinez’ performance was touching and tender. The role of Musetta was ably sung by Heidi Stober, familiar to Santa Fe audiences from her role in the amusing production of Platee in 2007. Reprising his 2007 Boheme role as her on-again, off-again lover, the artist Marcello, Corey McKern painted his portrayal boldly. This particular tale always resonates in a city like Santa Fe, where artists of all types come to pursue their passions, although with our adobe architecture, we are rather short on garrets.

Vive La Vie Boheme! Santa Fe Opera Photo: Ken Howard

Love Can Bloom, Even in a Garret Santa Fe Opera Photo: Ken Howard

With a total of five operas programmed each summer, there are three other choices in the repertoire, thoughtfully chosen to appeal to the eclectic tastes of opera fans. And with the adventurous spirit that SFO has always demonstrated, two more are premieres for the company! Noted director Peter Sellars returns to Santa Fe to conduct the first U.S. production of Antonio Vivaldi’s Griselda, with Meredith Arwady in the title role, Paul Groves (last year’s Hoffmann) as her husband Gualterio, and as Roberto, the exciting countertenor, David Daniels, returning to the Santa Fe stage for the first time since 2008. The light and lyrical touch of Gian-Carlo Menotti will be on display in a witty new production of his opera buffa, The Last Savage, also a first for the company. The final piece to make an appearance onstage (with only four performances, so reserve tickets soon) will be Alban Berg’s powerful masterpiece, Wozzeck, with Richard Paul Fink making his SFO debut in the demanding title role.

Gronk Making the Set for Griselda, Photo: Santa Fe Opera

One of the consistently remarkable features of the Santa Fe Opera is the stellar apprentice program. At the time the Opera came into being, esteemed founder Mr. Crosby had the foresight to create an environment designed to nurture and cultivate young singers who have in turn blessed the company with their youthful enthusiasm. Many talented singers whose names can be found in the programs of the world’s leading opera houses enhanced their singing careers with a summer in Santa Fe, and well over 1000 aspiring artists have been part of the summer program. Some may continue with professional singing careers, and others might morph into voice teachers or coaches who pass the torch on to others. In 1965, an apprentice program for the technical aspects of theater was added, and it too has developed through the years into fine training tool that complements the performing arts, thus enriching both sides of the stage. You can get a sneak peek at the stars of tomorrow on August 14 or August 21 by attending one of the two apprentice showcases, excellent opportunities to introduce younger family members to the joys of opera without a deep commitment of money or time (you can just leave if the kids get fidgety).

Visit the Cantina for a Preview Buffet Santa Fe Opera photo: Robert Godwin

The Crosby Theatre Santa Fe Opera Photo: Robert Reck

In conjunction with the training programs at the Opera, there is a broad set of informative community outreach programs and amenities aimed at creating future audiences by ensuring that opera is accessible and appealing to a new generation.  The very unique Pueblo Opera Program welcomes Native American youth from the nineteen pueblos and three reservations located throughout New Mexico. Opera attendees also get educated;  rather than distracting super-titles above the stage, the Crosby theater is one of the lucky few with unobtrusive opera titles – in either English or Spanish (translated by the erudite Fernando Mayans, well-known to many local Spanish language students) – on individual screens right in front of each seat, enhancing appreciation of the stage action. And there are other educational benefits for visitors, from daily backstage tours beginning at 9:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday to prelude talks before performances, as well as a series of community events. If you don’t have time for the theater tour, just hop onto the Opera’s new blog for a sneak peek at what’s happening on the back deck!

All Ages and Sizes are Welcome!

Even for those who are not die-hard opera fans, the Santa Fe Opera should be part of a Santa Fe vacation. It is one of the real jewels of the City Different, and like all precious gems, its lustre shines brightest when you see it in person.  As always, tickets are selling fast, so don’t delay! Dress up in your finery (with a warm wrap for changeable high desert weather) or come in your jeans, but don’t miss out. As Mimi sings in La Boheme “I love enchanting things…,” and this is truly one of the most enchanting ways to spend a night in the Land of Enchantment!

Don’t Miss Out on an Enchanting Night at the Opera!

Santa Fe Opera Photos courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera, All Rights Reserved

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