Santa Fe Opera-tunities: Spend Less, See More

Casey St. Charnez - July 5, 2013

"Now, of course, any rabid operagoer could spend a bundle pigging out on this high-calorie musical menu. But you don’t have to, necessarily. There are ways. Here are a few."

And so once again, it is Opening Night at the Santa Fe Opera. As usual since 1957, this season--the 57th--is both innovative and classic…and surprisingly affordable, if you show some ticket savvy.

This summer’s five selections include:

* “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein”: Jacques Offenbach’s delightful 1867 comic opera of love and lust later in life, starring  local/international favorite, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (8 performances)

* “The Marriage of Figaro”: Wolfie A. Mozart’s immortal 1786 crowd-pleaser, adapted from the Beaumarchais stage comedy, featuring baritone Zachary Nelson (8 performances)

* “La Donna del Lago” (The Lady of the Lake”): Gioachino Rossini’s 1819 exceedingly romantic, rarely seen musicalization of a Walter Scott novel, top-lining renowned mezzo Joyce DiDonato (8 performances)

* “La Traviata”: the timeless Giuseppe Verdi tear-jerker from 1853, based on the novel-cum-memoir by Dumas fils, with acclaimed soprano Brenda Rae (6 performances)

* not to mention the world premiere of “Oscar”: a brand-new opera about the brilliant and notorious Oscar Wilde, by Theodore Morrison and John Cox, spearheaded by countertenor David Daniels (5 performances).

Curtain is at 8:30pm presently, but shifts to 8:00 later in the summer season, as the evenings get shorter.

You can get the dates and times here:

You can read Desiree Mays’ in-depth production notes here:

The definitive word may always be found at, or simply call (505) 986-5900—the music while on hold is lovely.

Now, of course, any rabid operagoer could spend a bundle pigging out on this high-calorie musical menu. But you don’t have to, necessarily. There are ways. Here are a few:

Subscriptions: Choose any three, four, or even all five operas, then buy the tickets as a set, and you get up to 20% off. There’s even an interest-free three-payment purchase plan (phone orders only). There are no refunds or cancellations, but you can do exchanges for the same opera, just in case something happens. There are also three opportunities to catch all five in a row (July 30-August 3August 6-10August 13-17).

Gift certificates: Got a birthday coming up during the season? Well, there you go. But if you’re not a Cancer, Leo, or Virgo, then go guilt up somebody who owes you bigtime. These certificates are available online, in $50, $100, and $200 denominations, as well as good old reliable “Other.”

Family Nights: Bring a kid, get in cheaper, and I mean cheaper… Adult tickets are $25, children $12. Applies only to three specific operas and dates: “Grand Duchess” July 19, “Traviata” July 24, and “Figaro” August 20. An incredible deal. Makes me wish I hadn’t had that vasectomy years ago. (Available only in person at the box office. I mean the tickets, not the vasectomy).

Youth Nights: Final dress rehearsals are offered at deeply discounted family group prices. Again, the offer is good only for three singular evenings: “Grand Duchess” June 24, “Figaro” June 25, and “Traviata” July 16. (To qualify, minimum of one adult with at least two children. Rent some if you have to. It’s worth it).

More options: Seniors, students, and military (each with ID)  can buy half-price rush tickets on the day before and the day of a performance, available even over the phone. If you don’t fall into the above categories, try going for one of the theater’s 106 standing-room-only tickets, as they’re pretty darn inexpensive. (Though I might recommend one of the shorter offerings).

Apprentice Nights: Don’t forget about these reasonably priced concerts, 8:00 on August 11 and 18, with reserved (!) seats $21 for adults and $7 (!!) for ages 6-17. The SFO calls these singers the “Stars of Tomorrow,” and they’re quite right—just ask onetime SFO apprentice Joyce DiDonato, among many others (William Burden, Samuel Ramey, Susanna Phillips, Jay Hunter Morris).

For even more info, kindly peruse the blog I wrote here last summer, covering additional topics like food, parking, fashion, and so forth. It’s here:

Will we see you there? Lisa and I are at one of the bars during the intermissions. She likes whiskey sours; I’m a gin and tonic man. Third acts can go by so quickly!