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© Kate Russell for Santa Fe Opera          © Insight Foto for Santa Fe Opera

                                                                                                                                 imagine, which adds to the experience of   American composer Huang Ruo and   Opera is anything but. In addition to
                                                                                                                                 the productions.”                   librettist David Henry Hwang.       putting on a diverse array of shows, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                         organization offers special programs
                                                                                                                                 COME ONE, COME ALL                  The performances run from the first   and events for families and children,
                                                                                                                                 In addition to its awesome location,   week of July to the last week of August.   including discounted tickets on the
                                                                                                                                 the Santa Fe Opera is exceptional in   Near the end of the festival, all five   opera’s Family Nights and Youth Nights
            © Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera                                                                                      that it doesn’t just cater to longtime   operas are performed within the same   throughout the summer, which bring
                                                                                                                                 opera lovers. In an effort to preserve   week, giving visitors an opportunity to   young people behind the scenes for final
                                                                                                                                 its art form, the organization works   come back every night if they so choose.   dress rehearsals.
            During its busy season,            on the map was that Crosby was able   project even included the addition of       to make the opera feel accessible to   The festival attracts some 85,000 people
                                               to bring world-renowned composer    LCD touchscreens on each seat and in          all. During its busy season, the staff   each year, but, as it turns out, people   World-class performances are a
                  the staff increases
                                               Igor Stravinsky to the opera for several   standing-room areas, and each screen   increases from seventy people to about   aren’t just coming for the performances.   driving force behind the success of
             from seventy people to
                                               summers,” says Santa Fe Opera general   displays translations of the performances   seven hundred—including performers,   Meya notes that one of the most   any great opera house, but Meya says
            about seven hundred—               director Robert K. Meya. “To have   in Spanish and English. Despite this          orchestra members, and stage directors.   exciting traditions in Santa Fe—and   the importance of education and
              including performers,            someone of that caliber involved really   increase in size and accommodations,    Each season includes five new       one of the things that sets it apart—is   preservation can’t be discounted for
                orchestra members,             raised the artistic profile of the company   there is a common thread between     productions: the first two are selected   the opportunity for guests to tailgate   the future success of opera as an art
                and stage directors.           right off the bat.” Santa Fe hosted   the three theaters—an open-air back         to be attractive to a general audience,   before every show. “Tailgating has been   form. “Opera encompasses multiple
                                               performances of some of Stravinsky’s   and sides, which helps maintain its        the third and fourth are typically more   a long-standing tradition for as long as   art forms—a live orchestra, natural
                                               most famous operas for more than    connection to the environment and             rarely performed operas but are still   the opera has been here,” he says. “The   amplification of the human voice,
                                               six years, including the first North   provides a naturally dramatic backdrop.    accommodating for both new and      sunsets are unlike anything else in the   costume design, and set design, among
                                               American performance of Persephone   “Because of the open-air concept and         experienced patrons, and the final opera   world, and the opera, of course, is a call   others,” he says. “We have to think
                                               in 1961.                            how the productions are conceived,            is often an American or world premiere.   for celebration. People like to dress up   about how to preserve these great
                                                                                   each performance is a perfect marriage        The 2020 season includes performances   and set up the most incredible spreads.   components of art and succeed in
                                               After a fire struck the opera in 1967, it   of music and nature,” says Meya. “The   of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville,   It helps break down the barrier to entry,   having live experiences that take you
                                               was rebuilt into a 1,889-seat theater just   nights are often warm, the air flows   Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Wagner’s   too, because it’s such a fun social event.”  outside of the digital realm. The value of
                                               a year later and rebuilt again in 1998   through the theater, and you can see the   Tristan und Isolde, Dvořák’s Rusalka, and                             live performance experiences is greater
                                               into a 2,126-seat theater (with 106   stars so clearly—it really is one of the    a world premiere of M. Butterfly, which   The opera sometimes has a reputation   than ever before.”
                                               standing-room spots). The most recent   most incredibly romantic places you can   the opera commissioned from Chinese   for being hoity-toity, but the Santa Fe   For more info, visit

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