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Santa Fe Opera

Music is a universal gift, with the power to connect and bring together people from all walks of life. The Santa Fe Opera wields that power judiciously, with its mission “to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality…” If you’ve never attended one of the Opera’s spectacular offerings, you’re definitely missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures. This year, the company celebrates its 66th Festival season, from June 30 – August 26, 2023.

Officially founded in 1957, by John O. Crosby, when he bought a 76-acre ranch, which had already become known for its hospitality to travelling musicians. Noted for its unparalleled acoustics, the land was perfectly suited for a musical enterprise and John recognized its quality immediately. It has since grown, with additions to the acreage and new buildings springing up, while drawing 85,000 people yearly from across the globe, but the one thing that has remained the same is the acoustics.

Today, the company’s iconic Crosby Theatre is open on three sides, allowing visitors to enjoy performances complemented by the elements. But only a fraction of the buildings and operations are visible to the audience. On each side of the house and down the hill, the story continues, with a two-story orchestral and rehearsal room, a large costume storage facility, costume, wig and makeup areas, an orchestra lounge and music office, and large spaces dedicated to scenery and props.

On the site of the original ranch house can be found the company’s central office complex. Further out are more rehearsal halls, recording studios, a cantina and even a swimming pool. From the start, the site has been extolled as “one of the handsomest operatic settings in the Western Hemisphere,” by Time Magazine, and “a miracle in the desert,” by The New Yorker. More recently, the Wall Street Journal called it “the Rolls Royce of American summer opera festivals.”

Overseen by Robert K. Meya, the fourth General Director in the Opera’s long, storied history, the Santa Fe Opera is at the height of its popularity. In addition to stirring musical performances, the company also provides educational and community engagement programs to make the music accessible to a broad spectrum of the New Mexico population. Regarded as one of the state’s cultural and economic leaders, its impact on the New Mexico economy has been calculated at more than $200 million each year. To date, 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.

Santa Fe Opera
Photo courtesy Santa Fe Opera.

SFO’s 2023 Season Line-up

The Santa Fe Opera’s 66th Festival Season opens with one of opera’s greatest works, Puccini’s Tosca in a new production directed by Keith Warner with scenery and costumes by Ashley Martin-Davis and lighting design from Allen Hahn. Seasoned operagoers and newcomers alike are drawn to Tosca for its theatricality fueled by love, jealousy and political intrigue as relevant today as when it premiered in 1900 at Rome’s Teatro Costanzi.

Continuing in July is a piece not heard on the Santa Fe Opera stage in over 30 years: Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. Stage Director David Alden, who has directed every other Wagner opera, is excited to give us this powerful new production set during the Industrial Revolution. Paul Steinberg provides the scenic design with costumes from Constance Hoffman and lighting by Duane Schuler. In this retelling, the legend of a ghost ship forever condemned to sail the seas takes on psychological depths. Will the characters find escape from torment and redemption through love?

Not seen on the Santa Fe Opera stage since 1977, Debussy’s masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande is presented in a riveting new site-specific production directed and designed by Netia Jones, who presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the 2021 Festival Season. With Pelléas, Debussy’s orchestra is a character of its own; one of the 20th-century’s most influential scores propelling a visceral drama that never fails to move.

Sir David Pountney’s electrifying new production of Rusalka meets Dvořák’s turn-of-the-century masterpiece at the potent intersection of timeless fairy tale and timely psychological drama. With echoes of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, the opera weaves the tale of a water nymph who pays the highest price for the chance to love a human. Leslie Travers returns to Santa Fe to provide scenic designs while costume designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca and lighting designer Malcolm Rippeth make company debuts.

Rounding out the 2023 Festival Season will be the world premiere of a new orchestration by Nico Muhly of one of opera’s earliest written and regularly performed works, Monteverdi’s seminal Orfeo. Commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera, Orfeo is an unashamedly 21st-century look at a 17th-century opera seen through the prism of a young composer who includes among his influences the music of Byrd, Handel and Gibbons.

For more information, including a full schedule, visit the website.

This article was posted by Olivia

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