Springing up all over Santa Fe are the daffodils and the tulips, the forsythia and the hyacinths. All over town, happy smiles and gusty breezes prove that winter’s travails are behind us. It’s time to slow your mind from that 55 mph speed down to a manageable 20 mph so you can enjoy this lovely season!
This time of year is also a reminder that the busy summer months will quickly be upon us. What does that mean for Santa Fe travel? Santa Fe Opera season, of course! As I tackled some spring cleaning (yet another good thing that a change of seasons brings), my tasks were lightened by a Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Mozart’s Magic Flute. The glorious high notes of the Queen of the Night, Papageno’s piping flute and Sarastro’s majesty all made light work of household duties and also served as a reminder that I don’t have too long to wait before I can see this opera in person. The Santa Fe Opera repertoire for the 2010 summer season has something for everyone, and personally, I am excited! SFO always has an tantalizing mix of productions, and this season is no exception.
It simply wouldn’t be summer in Santa Fe without Mozart, as arduous as that 9:00pm curtain can sometimes be. The upcoming production of The Magic Flute was first mounted in the 2006 season and promptly sold out, a good reason for bring back this perennial favorite. Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman, another opera performed to great acclaim recently by the Met in a production directed by Bartlett Sher, comes to Santa Fe for the first time this summer. This tale of an idealistic poet and an opera star is a perfect fit for our literary and musical city, so plan to be front and center for this magical story.
As a friend’s mother once stated, “There’s only one opera, and it’s Italian,” and this means Puccini! Madama Butterfly returns for the first time since 1998 (was it really that long ago?), so a sushi dinner at Shohko and a night in Japan at the Opera sound like a great date. The prodigious talents of the English composer Benjamin Britten have been showcased in some great productions by SFO in recent years (who can forget seeing Teddy Tahu Rhoades scale the rigging while singing the title role in Billy Budd in 2008 or the massive thunderclouds that set the gloomy scene for Peter Grimes in 2005). This year, the Opera is mounting a performance of Albert Herring, with a fast-rising tenor, Alek Shrader, in the title role.
The roster for the season is completed with a premiere, a gift the Opera has consistently presented to Santa Fe and opera-lovers of all stripes. It is truly impressive that this relatively small company out in the high mountain desert has made such a serious commitment to mounting new works. Over the years, we have been graced with famed opera divas such as Dawn Upshaw in Katia Saariaho’s L’Amoir de Loin and Patricia Racette in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline. This year’s treat is the first full production of Lewis Spratlan’s Life is A Dream. Composed 32 years ago and based on a masterpiece from the golden age of Spanish drama, this work surfaced long enough in 2000 to win the Pulitzer Prize for music that year. An excellent article by Daniel J. Wakin in the April 12 issue of the New York Times details the journey Mr. Spratlan has traveled before finally having the opportunity to see his opera performed.
So why am I telling you all of this now, in spring? Because the Inn is filling up for Opera season, and now is the time to make your hotel reservations and buy your tickets to see the stunning Santa Fe opera under the stars! There are a number of subscription options that save about 20% on tickets, and in the month of August, one can actually see all five operas in five days, if one has the stamina. Curtain times are 9:00 pm for July performances, ease down to 8:30 pm from August 2-22, and rest at a classic 8:00 pm for the last week of the season, August 23-28.
So spring into action if you want the best seats, because a Santa Fe Opera sell-out is always a possibility for this stellar company!