Spanish Market Santa Fe

For lovers of art and heritage, the upcoming weekend promises many delights, as the 61st annual Santa Fe Spanish Market swings into the Plaza. With 183 artists in the Market, and an additional 52 youth artists exhibiting their work, this is an artistic and familial legacy that continues to grow in size and quality.

Spanish Market on the Santa Fe Plaza

Taking place on the historic Plaza, on Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29, from 8:30 am to 5 pm, the Market offers something for everyone, from straw applique to retablos to engraving to weaving and calaveras, too. If we’re lucky, we might even see some of that beautiful and increasingly rare colcha embroidery!

Calaveras con Corazon

And if your taste runs more to the cutting edge, the Contemporary Hispanic Market runs concurrently, spread along both sides of Lincoln Avenue, with 134 booths of art and artistry to peruse or purchase.

There will be food, of course, since it’s Santa Fe, and among other tasty events, there’s a cooking class with John Vollertsen, “Spanish Influence on New Mexico’s Norteno Cooking,” at Las Cosas on July 26 at 10 am.  And if you just can’t make time for that class, don’t forget that the Inn offers a Muy Sabrosa Cooking Experience with the experts from the Santa Fe School of Cooking, soon to be fully ensconced in their new location.

La Comida Muy Sabrosa!

Also on July 26, John Schaefer lectures on “Collecting Spanish Colonial Art” at Peyton Wright Gallery at 4:30 pm. On Friday July 27, at 9:30 am, Patina Gallery hosts a breakfast reception and lecture on the work of Enric Majoral.  On Friday evening, a Market Preview opens at the Santa Fe Convention Center at 7 pm.

Listen for “la musica,” not only during the Saturday-Sunday Market itself. On Thursday, July 26, the Santa Fe Bandstand series gets into the act with homegrown favorites, Andy Primm and Alex Maryol, performing on the Plaza from 6 to 9 pm. Performances by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival take place in St. Francis Auditorium on Thursday, July 26 at noon and 6 pm, Friday, July 27 at 6 pm, Saturday, July 27 at 6 pm, and Sunday, July 28 at 5 pm. The Santa Fe Desert Chorale offers a concert, “Celebrating the Centenery,” at 8 pm on Saturday, July 28 at the New Mexico History Museum.  The Santa Fe Opera serves up Giaochino Rossini’s Maometto II on Friday the 27th at 8:30 pm, and on Saturday the 28th, also at 8:30 pm, the premiere of Richard Strauss’ Arabella rounds out the season’s repertoire.

It looks like it will be a great weekend…will we see you there?

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


“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!

A Summer’s Day Hike to Nambe Lake

Nambe Lake, high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above Santa Fe

Summer weather opens up all of the wonderful high country hikes in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above Santa Fe, and if you’re up for a more challenging trek, be sure and put the hike to Nambe Lake – the nearest alpine lake to Santa Fe – on your bucket list. You’ll need to be in more than average condition to reach the lake, which sits at an elevation of over 11,300 feet, but the actual hiking distance is only 3.3 miles from the trailhead at Ski Santa Fe, the jumping-off spot for most of the high country hikes around here. If you’re longing to be immersed in alpine scenery, this the the hike for you!

A glacial meadow above Nambe Lake

Wildflowers are everywhere now, and some of the Rockies most beloved species are showing off all along this climb.

Rocky Mountain iris with Western Swallowtail

Star Solomon’s Seal in shady places at the beginning of the hike

The elusive Calypso Orchid, in the aspen forest

All along the cascades of the Rio Nambe you’ll find this gem now:

A flash of purest magenta will catch your eye

This is the Bog Primrose, or Parry’s Primrose, one of the delights of the high country streams. Its color is amazing.

Parry’s Primrose, glowing above the burbling water of Rio Nambe

The cheerful little Elkslip brightens all the damp and boggy places:

Elkslip flowers by a streamlet of pure transparent water

If you have any energy left to climb up among the massive bouldery talus that borders the cliffs, you might be rewarded by the first blossoms of the true Queen of the High Rockies, the etherial Blue Columbine:

Rocky Mountain Columbine

The Rio Nambe accompanies you along the entire climb you make after you turn at the junction of the Lake Trail (400) off of the Winsor Trail (254) – a climb that will take you up 1000 feet in just about a mile, in a canyon choked with glacial moraine. The stream cascades endlessly from rock to rock:

Waterfalls along the Rio Nambe

A little over midway up the canyon, a boggy glacial meadow opens up and gives you a respite from the stair-mastering you’ve been enjoying previously. It’s our own little mini-Yosemite:

The first glacial meadow

and the creek here meanders lazily in deep trenches of purest water:

Corn lilies along the Rio Nambe in a meadow setting

Don’t be fooled however; you’ve got another massive step in elevation over a steep and bouldery trail to reach the lake.

It’s worth it:

Nambe Lake, looking up into the cirque

Lake Peak towers above the southern end of the lake:

The north face of Lake Peak

This is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a well-deserved break:

At the edge of Nambe Lake

The air here is fragrant with the balsamic incense of the Englemann Spruce which surround you on every side:

A grove of Englemann Spruce glowing in the alpine sunlight

Little details will catch your eye, like this patch of stonecrop clinging to a outcropping of gleaming white granite:

Stonecrop and granite

Every view here is captivating:

Nambe Lake, looking downstream

Now is the perfect time to plan this hike. The days are long and the summer thunderstorms of July and August haven’t set in yet. As I mentioned, this is not a walk to be undertaken lightly: although the distance is only 3.3 miles, you’ll make an immediate 800 foot elevation gain in the first mile of the walk, enjoy a leisurely descent back down toward the Rio Nambe, and then face a 1000 foot gain in the last mile of the hike, over two enormous bottlenecks of glacial moraine, the second of which holds back the lake. The trail is rough in places and even a little hard to follow in those sections where hikers have made alternative paths along Rio Nambe. It’s popular in the summer months, and you may not find that perfect solitude that we New Mexicans are accustomed to enjoying on many of our mountain trails.

But is sure is beautiful up there.

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 [email protected]

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.