Santa Fe Opera 2022 Season | Carmen, M. Butterfly & More |
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The Santa Fe Opera’s General Director Robert K. Meya announced on November 4 the repertory and casting for the company’s 65th Festival Season running from July 1 through August 27, 2022. Speaking from the Scene Shop in the Poole Production Center, Meya shared that the Santa Fe Opera will present 38 performances and five new productions. The ambitious season includes the company’s 18th world premiere M. Butterfly by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang directed by James Robinson; the company premiere of Wagner’s masterpiece Tristan und Isolde co-directed by Zack Winokur and Lisenka Heijboer Castañón; a poignant retelling of Bizet’s Carmen by Mariame Clément; Verdi’s comic final opera Falstaff in a co-production with Scottish Opera by Sir David McVicar; Stephen Barlow’s inventive take on Rossini’s most popular opera The Barber of Seville; and two Apprentice Scenes featuring the opera’s talented singing and technical apprentices. Santa Fe Opera

The 2022 Season celebrates the creation of new opera that explores topical themes such as gender identity, and offers fresh twists on beloved classics by Bizet, Rossini, Verdi and Wagner. Some of today’s most exciting talent is featured singing in four languages — English, French, German and Italian — instantly translated into English and Spanish on the company’s next-generation Avenir Electronic Libretto System. Says Meya, “I hold great hope for a return to normalcy in 2022. Three of our five featured productions were originally scheduled for 2020, so this coming season will be a healing of sorts for the lost year of the pandemic. There will be humor, tragedy, boundless tales of love and something entirely new. There’s truly a show for everyone.”

The Santa Fe Opera will continue its commitment to protecting the health and safety of its staff, artists and audiences. Meya noted, “We anticipate requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry to The Crosby Theatre.” It is expected that all audience members will be required to wear a mask. The company is currently reviewing all additional activities including Prelude Talks, Preview Dinners, Shuttles, Backstage Tours and Family Nights, to determine what can be offered while still ensuring safety. As plans progress for the 2022 Season and events are added to the calendar, updates will be made to the opera’s dedicated Health and Safety webpage.

The cards are not in her favor.

Bizet’s most popular opera, Carmen, opens the season on July 1, 2022 in a retelling by French director Mariame Clément in her company debut. Colorful sets and costumes by German designer Julia Hansen, choreography by Mathieu Guilhaumon and lighting by internationally recognized designer Duane Schuler bring this tragic tale to life.

Santa Fe Opera Music Director Harry Bicket leads a talented cast that includes three-time Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as the defiant Carmen opposite internationally acclaimed tenors Bryan Hymel and Michael Fabiano who share the role of Don José. Bass-baritone Michael Sumuel makes his company debut as the toreador, Escamillo. Soprano and former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice singer Sylvia D’Eramo makes her company debut as Micaëla and bass David Crawford sings Zuniga in his company debut. The Chorus Master is Susanne Sheston.

Carmen was written for the Opéra-Comique and premiered in 1875. But with its unrestrained sexuality, immoral characters and onstage murder, Carmen shocked the Parisian audience, who met the world premiere not with boos or jeers, but with deadly silence. The reviews ranged from disappointed to horrified. Despite its disastrous opening run, critics nonetheless recognized Bizet’s undeniable talent — the music of Carmen brilliantly communicates its characters’s emotional and psychological states, sometimes subtly and sometimes directly and forcefully. Clément admits that Carmen is intimidating, noting, “The usual preconception is that it’s a joyful, colorful piece, but it’s actually a very dark and gloomy piece.” The general setting for the action will be an amusement park. As Clément puts it, “…it’s almost a mental landscape for Carmen. You always say Carmen is free and it’s a celebration of freedom. I beg to differ. Yes, she’s free to die in the end. So, it’s a very limited kind of freedom.” She adds, “Another essential idea in our conception was a little girl who would be a recurring character, especially in the overture and the interludes, who would just appear there like a young Carmen or a little girl from the community of travelers…like something blurred and dreamlike coming into focus.”

Figaro here, Figaro there, Figaro everywhere!

The 2022 Season continues on July 2, 2022 with Rossini’s most popular comedy, The Barber of Seville, in a new production whose playful energy springs directly from his ebullient music. InStephen Barlow’s witty interpretation, Seville and Santa Fe meet and merge in a sunny and whimsical world where anything can happen. The familiar sunbaked colors of southern Spain meld seamlessly with Santa Fe Opera’s beloved and unique natural backdrop, and a clever revolving stage adds a multiplicity of possible locales to the usual interior and exterior settings of this opera. Designer Andrew D. Edwards’s elegant and colorful costumes based on 18th-century period clothing freely embrace fantasy and Mitchell Harper’s choreography surprises at every turn in this charming production illuminated by lighting designer Chris Akerlind.

Mexican conductor Iván López-Reynoso makes his company debut leading eight performances with an exciting cast that includes Santa Fe Opera audience favorite Joshua Hopkins as the resourceful Figaro and former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice singers Emily Fons and Jack Swanson who will dazzle as Rosina and Count Almaviva. Bass Ryan Speedo Green makes his company debut as Don Basilio and bass Kevin Burdette sings the role of Doctor Bartolo. Susanne Sheston is the Chorus Master.

Based on Le Barbier de Séville (1775), the first play of the ‘Figaro Trilogy’ by the French Revolutionary-era author Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais, Rossini’s opera traces the efforts of clever Figaro to win for his master Count Almaviva his chosen bride, Rosina. Rossini himself was a delicate balance of 18th-century craftsman and 19th-century trailblazer and with Barber he created an opera whose modesty belies its mastery, a structure buttressed by the most sophisticated musical dramaturgy but whose facade is sheer fun.

All the world’s a joke and only the jolly are wise.

Opening July 16, 2022 is Verdi’s comedic opera Falstaff in an exciting co-production with Scottish Opera. Sir David McVicar’s production plays as classic Shakespearean humor in the form of disguise and trickery. McVicar’s unit set is a wooden structure that includes a galleried upper level linked by side stairs, harkening back to theaters of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. True to the period, excessive decoration is avoided, and everything is kept as simple and functional as possible. Audiences can expect costumes that are a kaleidoscope of fabrics featuring richly colored silks, magnificent brocades, period ruffs, fur trimmings and black leather — truly a feast for the eyes. While the garments are in keeping with the period, McVicar has drawn inspiration from the paintings of some of art’s great masters, including Rembrandt, Vermeer and Botticelli. The third act set in Windsor Park showcases the entire cast in masquerade including a cavalcade of witches, elves and even the Fairy Queen herself. The Scotsman wrote, “There’s never a moment in this hurtling production where the eye is bored.” McVicar is joined by lighting designer Lizzie Powell and choreographer Andrew George, both making their Santa Fe Opera debuts.

Maestro Paul Daniel leads a talented ensemble headlined by baritone Quinn Kelsey in the title role. Joining him are Alexandra LoBianco and Elena Villalón in their company debuts as Alice and Nannetta, former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice singers Ann McMahon Quintero and Eric Ferring in their company debuts as Mistress Quickly and Fenton and former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice singer Megan Marino as Meg Page. Roland Wood is Ford and Susanne Sheston serves as the Chorus Master.

Falstaff is Verdi’s final opera, composed at the age of 80, five years prior to his death in 1901. He lovingly referred to his composition as “Il Pancione” or “The Big Belly” and with it he left behind the traditional building blocks of Italian opera. He forgoes the expected overture, abandons traditional arias and frequently places the melody in the orchestra rather than the vocal line. Beautiful musical ideas arrive and depart before an audience has a chance to fully grasp or savor them, likening them to quicksilver. Rossini was known to have said Verdi was incapable of writing a comedy. Following the tremendous success of Otello, Verdi commented, “After having relentlessly massacred so many heroes and heroines, I have at last the right to laugh a little.”

Surrender to desire.

Wagner’s Tristan und Isoldea company premiere and the first piece by Richard Wagner to be seen on the Santa Fe Opera stage in over 30 years, will be presented in a new production opening on July 23, 2022. Debuting directors Zack Winokur and Lisenka Heijboer Castañón conjure a mesmerizing production of eloquent, elemental simplicity which emphasizes character, emotion and ideas. “Opera is the field where all disciplines collide,” Winokur observes, “…and I want to smash these different methods of performance and expression together to produce a thing of power, meaning, matter and beauty.” The timeless set, designed by the cutting-edge architects Charlap Hyman & Herrero, serves as a canvas for a masterful play of light and shadow by lighting designer John Torres and projections designer Greg Emetaz. Rounding out the creative team is costume designer Carlos J. Soto, who is a longtime collaborator with Robert Wilson.

Conductor James Gaffigan returns to the Santa Fe Opera podium to lead a stellar cast that includes exciting company debuts in the title roles: tenor Simon O’Neill as Tristan and soprano Tamara Wilson as Isolde. Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton sings Brangäne, bass Nicholas Brownlee is Kurwenal and bass Eric Owens performs King Marke. Susanne Sheston is the Chorus Master.

Wagner wrote Tristan und Isolde under the twin influences of the gloomy philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and of Mathilde Wesendonck, his married lover — both of whom taught him a thing or two about unfulfilled longing. He conveyed his musings on love, sex and death in intensely chromatic music of deferred resolution, conveyed in tidal waves of full-throated singing and lush orchestral sound. Its prelude’s opening with the famous yearning “Tristan chord” is often cited as the birth of modern music, unleashing an unstoppable wellspring of musical possibility. The work’s unprecedented chromaticism, tonal ambiguity and stunning orchestral color changed every composer who came after, influencing everything from Expressionism to film music to Heavy Metal.

In order to best accommodate audiences, all performances of Tristan und Isolde will begin at 8:00 pm.

Love has no boundaries.

Rounding out the Santa Fe Opera’s 2022 Season will be the world premiere of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly on July 30, 2022. The piece is the company 18th world premiere, further building upon a long legacy of commissioning new works. It is based upon Hwang’s Tony Award-winning play of the same name, inspired by the true story of a French diplomat who carried on a 20-year love affair with a star of the Peking Opera who has an astonishing secret. The story’s many parallels with Puccini’s well-known Madama Butterfly are echoed in the new opera’s music which has itself been an iconic work at the Santa Fe Opera, having opened all three theaters in 1957, 1968 and 1998. In many ways, M. Butterfly is a logical progression for the Santa Fe Opera, honoring the company’s history while championing new operatic works.

M. Butterfly will be staged by James Robinson and the same creative team that prepared the Santa Fe Opera’s widely praised American premiere of Huang Ruo’s Dr. Sun Yat-sen in 2014, including Allen Moyer (scenic design), James Schuette (costume design) and Chris Akerlind (lighting design). Greg Emetaz will serve as the projections designer. Their gripping production captures the lyricism of Huang Ruo’s music and reveals the blurred lines between fantasy and reality. Maestra Carolyn Kuan, Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, returns to the Santa Fe Opera podium. Baritone Mark Stone sings the role of René Gallimard. Countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim (Song Liling) and mezzo-soprano Hongni Wu (Comrade Chin/Shu Fang) make exciting company debuts. Tenor and former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice singer Joshua Dennis creates the role of Marc and Santa Fe Opera audience favorite Kevin Burdette performs the roles of Manuel Toulon and the Judge. Susanne Sheston is the Chorus Master.

Librettist David Henry Hwang writes, “When Huang Ruo and I began looking for our next project together, it seemed time to finally embark upon my dream of bringing M. Butterfly back to the world of opera, which in many ways strikes me as its most natural home. I am grateful to the Santa Fe Opera for investing the time, resources and artistic support necessary to develop and realize this work. Because opera is the most theatrical of stage forms, one which most effectively facilitates an audiences’ suspension of disbelief, Huang Ruo and I believe it will allow this story to take wing more beautifully and powerfully than ever


Performance Start Times*: July 1 — July 30, 8:30 PM | August 1 — August 27, 8:00 PM
*All performances of Tristan und Isolde will begin at 8:00 pm.

2022 Tickets & Subscriptions
Tickets for the 2022 Season are now on sale. Make purchases or learn more at or by calling the Box Office at 505-986-5900 (toll-free at 800-280-4654) between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm MT Monday through Friday. No in-person purchases are available at this time.

Apprentice Scenes
Staged scenes from the operatic repertory showcasing the remarkable talent of Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Singers and Technicians will be presented on two consecutive Sunday evenings, August 14 and 21, 2022. One of the best entertainment values of the summer at $15 for Adults and $5 for youth (ages 6-22). Make purchases or learn more at or by calling the Box Office at 505-986-5900 (toll-free at 800-280-4654) between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm MT Monday through Friday. No in-person purchases are available at this time.

Discounted Ticket Programs
The Santa Fe Opera is pleased to offer discounted day-of ticket programs for seniors, students and military. To learn more please call the Box Office at 505-986-5900 (toll-free at 800-280-4654) between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm MT Monday through Friday. No in-person purchases are available at this time.

Your Visit
All additional on-campus activities, including Prelude TalksPreview DinnersShuttlesBackstage Tours and Family Nights, are currently being reviewed. In the coming months the opera will determine what can be offered while still ensuring the safety of its staff, artists, audience and community. Updates will be posted at as decisions on each activity are made.

About The Santa Fe Opera
The Santa Fe Opera annually draws 85,000 people from New Mexico and around the globe. Nestled atop a mountain vista in northern New Mexico, the company’s iconic Crosby Theatre is open on three sides, allowing visitors to enjoy performances complemented by the elements. Since 1957 the company has presented over 2,000 performances of 177 operas by 90 composers spanning five centuries of opera, creating a legacy of 45 American premieres and 17 world premieres.


This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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