Santa Fe Opera General Director Robert K. Meya announced updates to the 2021 season including the latest in ticketing, casting and protocols for a safe reopening, plus nightly on-site simulcasts as part of the company’s 64th summer festival commencing on July 10. The announcement was streamed online and delivered from the open gates of the outdoor Crosby Theatre. Meya greeted viewers stating, “And now, here we are at the gates to The Crosby Theatre – eagerly anticipating the return of music, of song, and of you, our beloved patrons, on Opening Night.”
Meya confirmed that the company recently obtained approval from state officials to increase theater capacity and open up ticket sales on June 10. Meya shared, “This will add approximately 1,000 additional seats for every performance with new availability in every section of the theater. The box office is currently ticketing our wait list, and will open sales to the public on June 10, so mark your calendars and visit our website to reserve your seats!” This latest update will allow the opera to seat every row while still maintaining social distancing between groups. Maximum group size remains limited to six patrons, and mask wearing will be required at all times. The company will confirm seat locations no later than ten days prior to performance evenings. The Santa Fe Opera is grateful to its supporters and community for their patience as it works to accommodate all who wish to attend this summer.
Joining Meya was the opera’s new Chief Artistic Officer David Lomelí whose appointment began on May 1. Sharing his excitement for the future, Lomelí said, “My friends, we are experiencing a generational shift in our industry. The Santa Fe Opera will be a multicultural, multicolor family of artists and supporters gathering here in the Land of Enchantment to host a festival that enhances the human experience through opera – for every audience member who visits us in New Mexico or in the digital realm.” Lomelí and Meya spoke of the opera’s interest in welcoming new audiences and shared messages in both English and Spanish.
In celebration of the 2021 Reopening Season and the Santa Fe Opera’s continued commitment to inclusion and engagement, the opera is proud to reinstate special discounts on tickets for students, seniors, active military, and New Mexico residents. First-time ticket buyers from New Mexico can receive 40 percent off a pair of tickets, allowing community members to experience opera for as little as $25 per person. Students, seniors, and active military will receive a 50 percent discount on day-of performance tickets. To place orders for these promotions, interested parties are asked to please call the box office at 505-986-5900 or 800-280-4654. Meya shared, “This season features four, fully-staged new productions of operas spanning four centuries. With 30 performances, including a special, one night-only concert featuring soprano Angel Blue, we have something for everyone…and now, your seat awaits.”
The 2021 Season
As announced on October 21, 2020, the Santa Fe Opera’s 2021 Season, running July 10 through August 27, presents 30 performances of four operas, including the world premiere of The Lord of Cries by John Corigliano and Mark Adamo directed by James Darrah; the company premiere of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed and designed by Netia Jones; Laurent Pelly’s stylish new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro; a new production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin directed by Alessandro Talevi; a celebratory concert featuring soprano Angel Blue in her company debut with 2021 Season artists and The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra led by John Fiore; and two Apprentice Scenes performances. The 64th Season celebrates the inclusion of works new to the world stage alongside audience favorites by Mozart and Tchaikovsky, and features some of opera’s most exciting talent. A variety of time periods and languages are represented, with pieces and perspectives dating from 1786 to 2021, sung in English, Italian and Russian. The season is the second to be led by General Director Robert K. Meya, Artistic Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Harry Bicket, and perfectly fits the time-tested programming model pioneered by Santa Fe Opera founder John Crosby: a balanced and varied repertory of new, rarely performed and standard works portrayed in a new light. The Santa Fe Opera has been working to bring this incredible art form to audiences since 1957, and will continue this work to expand opera’s reach to new and diverse audiences through contemporary works, world premieres and its Opera for All Voices initiative. Said Meya, “The 2021 season is a tribute to our unwavering optimism for the future of opera and the delight it can bring to viewers of all ages and backgrounds.”
Announcing Nightly Simulcasts
While the past year presented countless challenges for the Santa Fe Opera, it also inspired the company’s leadership to explore new avenues for bringing opera to its communities. Technology is a critical component for future outreach, and the company has made significant investments in its audio-visual infrastructure. The Santa Fe Opera is thrilled to present nightly simulcasts of every performance on 300 square-foot, state-of-the-art LED walls in its scenic lower parking lot, with views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Each simulcast is supported by newly laid fiber optic cabling, 4K HD robotic cameras, new area mics placed around the stage and orchestra pit, an audio engineer live mixing each performance and veteran simulcast director Bruce Bryant accompanied by production company Staging Solutions. Simulcast tickets will also go on sale June 10, ranging in price from $100 to $125 per vehicle. The simulcast dress rehearsals will provide opportunities for the company to invite New Mexico educators, youth, community partners and families to enjoy this summer’s productions. Shared Meya, “We invite you to lay out your finest spread and enjoy the performance from the safety and convenience of your tailgate picnic in true Santa Fe Opera style.”
Santa Fe Opera Virtual Experiences
In addition to live performances, the Santa Fe Opera invites the public to enjoy an array of virtual experiences. This season, Virtual Prelude Talks will feature opera educator Oliver Prezant presenting on all four productions, as well commentary from the scholar and performer Lucy Tucker Yates, librettist Diana Solomon-Glover and stage director Shawna Lucey. Premiering in July, patrons can look forward to receiving video links as part of their pre-performance reminder email. The Virtual Prelude Talks are supported by The Marilyn & John McConnell Prelude Talks Fund.
“Explore the Santa Fe Opera,” a Virtual Backstage Tour Experience offers the chance to step behind-the-scenes into the costume, props, paint, scenery shops and more. Each tour will be led by Santa Fe Opera notables including soprano Susanna Phillips and Chief Artistic Officer David Lomelí. Said Meya, “We are especially honored that former Santa Fe Opera Technical Apprentice and Project Runway star Patricia Michaels serves as our host for the virtual backstage tour of the Costume Shop where she once worked.” Declared Lomelí, “In this new era, every single artistic decision has a very palpable impact on the way we will interact with the communities we serve in person, in our house and in the state of New Mexico, but also with all the new audiences abroad and beyond in the digital cyberspace.” “Explore the Santa Fe Opera” will debut on July 10 and will be available to watch on the opera’s website, YouTube and social channels. “Explore the Santa Fe Opera,” a Virtual Backstage Tour Experience is sponsored by Thornburg Investment Management.
Audiences will also have the opportunity to explore the intricacies of creating a world premiere by tuning in to New Mexico PBS for a seven-part series entitled “From Page to Stage,” which documents the making of The Lord of Cries. Tune in to “iCOLORES!” each Saturday at 4 pm MDT on PBS Channel 5.1, or streaming online, beginning July 10. The Santa Fe Opera gratefully acknowledges the Bank of Albuquerque for its generous sponsorship of “From Page to Stage: The Santa Fe Opera’s world premiere of The Lord of Cries.”
A Safe Reopening Season
Detailing the company’s latest plans for a safe reopening, Meya shared, “The journey has been a long one; we have been preparing for our 2021 Reopening Season for the last ten months. Our partners in this journey have been our tireless Governor of the state of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, her cabinet and staff. We simply could not have confronted the challenges of the last year without her wisdom and fortitude along with the care and compassion of our elected officials and volunteers. I’d like especially to thank the members of the New Mexico Economic Recovery Council and Santa Fe Opera Board Member Liddie Martinez, who gave us the confidence to make decisions at critical junctures along the way.”
The Santa Fe Opera’s reopening protocols have been developed in collaboration with public health officials, experts in epidemiology and sanitization and local hospital partner CHRISTUS St. Vincent. The company has engaged leading COVID-safety consultants and added a full-time COVID Compliance & Safety Manager to its staff. The company’s preparations for the coming season have been exhaustive and ensure that it can put opera back on stage in the safest possible manner.
The company will not be offering Preview Dinners, Backstage Tours, or any donor events on campus this season. To best support the safety and artistry of the 2021 Season, each of the company’s COVID-19 protocols have been documented in its 94-page Reopening Handbook. Company-wide standards and practices include masking, social-distancing, increased cleaning, electrostatic disinfection of high-traffic areas, and enhanced ventilation and air purification in elevators and restrooms. All artists, musicians and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 one to three times per week. To minimize points of contact, the opera has implemented the digital ticketing entry system N-Scan and installed touch-free fixtures in all restrooms. Patrons can also expect to see acrylic shields in public facing locations, campus-wide hand sanitizing stations and safety signage throughout. The opera will not be accepting cash and has adopted cashless technology for all transactions including those in the Opera Shop, Box Office and Concessions. While the company will not be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry, it is asking all patrons, prior to arrival, to conduct a “self screening” and stay home if not feeling well.
The Santa Fe Opera will continue to update its plans according to the latest medical advice and public health orders and wishes to acknowledge its principal reopening sponsor, The Brown Foundation of Houston, whose support has made a safe reopening possible. The opera also extends thanks to its reopening partners AXCES Research & Health, CHRISTUS St. Vincent, and Production Safe Zone.This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead