Santa Fe Opera

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Santa Fe Opera (SFO) is an American opera company, located 7 miles (11 km) north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_0

After creating the Opera Association of New Mexico in 1956, its founding director, John Crosby, oversaw the building of the first opera house on a newly acquired former guest ranch of 199 acres (0.81 km). Santa Fe Opera_sentence_1

The company has presented operas each summer festival season since July 1957, and is internationally known for introducing new operas as well as for its productions of the standard operatic repertoire. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_2

Since its inception, Santa Fe Opera has staged 43 American premieres and 15 world premieres, as of 2017. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_3

General history Santa Fe Opera_section_0

John Crosby, who was a New York-based conductor, founded the company in 1956, initially with the financial support of his parents, who helped in the acquisition of the land and the building of the first opera house. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_4

One goal was to give American singers the opportunity to learn and perform new roles while having ample time for rehearsal and preparation in the context of a summer festival situation with the presentation of five operas in repertory. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_5

Its first season began on 3 July 1957 with a performance of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_6

Crosby remained as general director until 2000, the longest general directorship in US opera history. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_7

Richard Gaddes served as the company's general director from 2000 through 2008. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_8

In November 2007, SFO named Charles MacKay the company's third general director, effective 1 October 2008. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_9

In August 2017, the company announced the intention of MacKay to stand down as its general director after the 2018 season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_10

In addition to being the opera company's founding general director, Crosby had simultaneously served as its de facto first principal conductor. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_11

Alan Gilbert became the company's first music director from 2003 to 2006. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_12

Kenneth Montgomery, a regular guest conductor starting in 1982, served as interim music director for the 2007 season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_13

In July 2007, Edo de Waart was named as chief conductor, effective 1 October 2007, with an initial contract was of four years. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_14

He was the first conductor to hold that title with the company However, in November 2008, the company announced that de Waart stood down from the post before the end of his contract, with de Waart citing health and family reasons for this decision. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_15

In May 2010, the company announced the appointment of Frédéric Chaslin as the company's next chief conductor, effective 1 October 2010, with an initial contract of three years. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_16

However, in August 2012, Chaslin resigned as the Opera's chief conductor. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_17

In April 2013, the company announced simultaneously the appointments of Harry Bicket as its next chief conductor, effective 1 October 2013, and of Montgomery as conductor laureate for the 2013 season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_18

In November 2016, the company announced the extension of Bicket's contract as chief conductor through 30 September 2020. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_19

In February 2018, the company announced the appointments of Robert K. Meya as its next general director and of Alexander Neef as its first-ever artistic director, and the elevation of Harry Bicket from chief conductor of the company to its music director, with three appointments effective as of 1 October 2018. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_20

In October 2018, the company announced the extension of Bicket's contract as music director through the 2023 season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_21

Programming and organizational philosophy Santa Fe Opera_section_1

From the beginning, certain characteristics of what was to become a typical season emerged. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_22

It runs annually from late June or the beginning of July to the third week of August, with five operas presented in rotating repertory. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_23

Generally, from the time of Crosby's inception of the company, two popular operas opened the season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_24

An American (or world) premiere was generally in the program and these included works commissioned by the company. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_25

A lifelong lover of the operas of Richard Strauss, Crosby regularly scheduled one and presented many American premieres of the composer’s work, an example being the 1964 U.S. premiere of the 1938 Daphne. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_26

Finally, the fifth opera was often a rarely performed work. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_27

The same philosophy continues to the present day. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_28

For modern works, US premiere productions of contemporary operas include Thomas Adès' The Tempest (2006), Tan Dun's Tea: A Mirror of Soul, Kaija Saariaho's Adriana Mater, the July 2009 world premiere of The Letter, by composer Paul Moravec and librettist Terry Teachout, and the first full production of Lewis Spratlan's Life Is a Dream in July 2010. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_29

World premieres have included Theodore Morrison's Oscar (2013), Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain (2015)., and Mason Bates' and Mark Campbell's The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (2017). Santa Fe Opera_sentence_30

Leadership Santa Fe Opera_section_2

General Directors Santa Fe Opera_sentence_31

Santa Fe Opera_unordered_list_0

  • John Crosby (1957–2000)Santa Fe Opera_item_0_0
  • Richard Gaddes (2000–2008)Santa Fe Opera_item_0_1
  • Charles MacKay (2008–2018)Santa Fe Opera_item_0_2
  • Robert Meya (2018-present)Santa Fe Opera_item_0_3

Artistic Directors Santa Fe Opera_sentence_32

Santa Fe Opera_unordered_list_1

  • Alexander Neef (2018-present)Santa Fe Opera_item_1_4

Conductors in leadership positions Santa Fe Opera_sentence_33

Santa Fe Opera_unordered_list_2

  • John Crosby (1957–2000, de facto principal conductor)Santa Fe Opera_item_2_5
  • Alan Gilbert (2003–2006, Music Director)Santa Fe Opera_item_2_6
  • Kenneth Montgomery (2007, Acting Music Director)Santa Fe Opera_item_2_7
  • Edo de Waart (2007–2009, Chief Conductor)Santa Fe Opera_item_2_8
  • Frédéric Chaslin (2010–2012, Chief Conductor)Santa Fe Opera_item_2_9
  • Kenneth Montgomery (2013, Conductor Laureate)Santa Fe Opera_item_2_10
  • Harry Bicket (2013–2018, Chief Conductor; 2018-present, Music Director)Santa Fe Opera_item_2_11

Apprentice programs Santa Fe Opera_section_3

In his first season, Crosby created the Apprentice Singer Program, whereby eight young people were to be given living expenses and paid per performance to be members of the chorus and to cover (understudy) major roles. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_34

Unusual for its time in America in the 1950s, the Apprentice Singers Program helped young singers to make the transition from academic to professional life. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_35

To date, over 1,500 aspiring opera singers have participated. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_36

As Crosby noted: Santa Fe Opera_sentence_37

Santa Fe Opera_description_list_3

  • "In this country young artists have to do something which is impossible – gain experience. But with our plan, these young people will be scheduled in small roles and will have the opportunity of working with their older brothers and sisters who have already won their spurs. To get such experience now, a young artist has to go to Europe."Santa Fe Opera_item_3_12

The Apprentice Program for Technicians was added in 1965. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_38

The program has formal academic goals in addition to the "hands on" experience provided by the preparation for and participation in professional productions. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_39

Seminars and master classes are conducted; singers receive coaching in voice, music, body movement, career counseling, and diction. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_40

Technical apprentices are provided with instruction in stage operations, stage properties, costume and wig construction, scenic art, wigs and make up, music services, and stage lighting. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_41

The Apprentice Program for Singers and Technicians continues at The Santa Fe Opera today. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_42

Typically, about 1,000 aspiring young singers and 600 technicians apply; in 2014, 43 singers and almost 90 technical apprentices will work at the opera. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_43

The singers act as the chorus for each opera, as well as performing small roles. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_44

In addition, apprentices "cover" some leading roles, and on occasion have been known to have performed, replacing contracted singers who have been indisposed. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_45

The Technical Apprentices perform a variety of backstage functions. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_46

They are divided into five separate running crews: costumes, scenery, electrics, properties, and production/music services. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_47

These five crews perform the majority of work on the daily changeovers between the five operas of the summer season and also fill positions crucial to the live running of productions. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_48

At the end of the summer, the apprentice crews are invited to apply for staff positions for the two weekends of "Apprentice Scenes", a showcase for the apprentice singers, and can serve as everything from costume and lighting designers, to lighting and stage supervisors, to follow spot operators and assistant stage managers and more. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_49

Notable past apprentices Santa Fe Opera_section_4

Some major American opera singers who have been company apprentices include the sopranos Judith Blegen (1961), Ashley Putnam (1973 and 1975), and Celena Shafer (1999–2000); mezzos Joyce DiDonato (1995), Susan Quittmeyer (1978), and Michelle DeYoung (? Santa Fe Opera_sentence_50

); tenors Carl Tanner (1992,93), William Burden (1989–90), Richard Croft (1978), Chris Merritt (1974–75), and Neil Shicoff (1973); baritones David Gockley (1965–67; later general manager of the Houston Grand Opera and the San Francisco Opera) and Sherrill Milnes (1959); and basses Mark Doss (1983), James Morris (1969) and Samuel Ramey (1966). Santa Fe Opera_sentence_51

Many former apprentice singers have returned to perform major roles with the company. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_52

These have included Mark Doss in the 2011 Faust; Joyce DiDonato in the 2006 Cendrillon (and again in 2013 in La donna del lago); Chris Merritt also in 2006 in The Tempest; Carl Tanner in the 2005 production of Turandot; and Joyce El-Khoury (2006 and 2008 Apprentice Singer) as Micaëla in the 2014 production of Carmen. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_53

Theatres and other facilities Santa Fe Opera_section_5

There have been three theatres on the present site of The Santa Fe Opera's approximately (now) 150 acres of land. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_54

Each has been located on the same site on a mesa, with the audience facing West toward an ever-changing horizon of sunsets and thunderstorms, frequently visible throughout many productions when no backdrops are used. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_55

Over the years, because of the first and second theatres' exposure to weather, rains covered audiences and orchestra members (and threatened the latter's instruments), requiring occasional cancellations, postponements, or extended intermissions. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_56

This situation, along with other factors (e.g. the general wish to improve acoustics, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, to improve patron facilities, and to provide more seating) led to the decision to construct the third theatre. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_57

Three key features of each of the theatres has been the fact that, unlike a conventional opera house or theatre, there is no fly system to allow for scenery to be lowered from above, there is no proscenium arch (and thus no curtain nor means of projecting surtitles), the sides of the house are open, and the rear of the stage may be completely opened to provide westward views. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_58

Performances begin close to sunset, so that the lighting of the productions is not compromised by the sides of the theatre being open to the outside environment. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_59

Since the 2011 season, the starting time has been moved up by one half-hour from the original 9pm time. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_60

More social aspects of the performance starting time include giving opera-goers the opportunity to observe New Mexico sunsets against the surrounding landscape and the tradition of tailgate dining. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_61

Original theatre, 1957 to 1967 Santa Fe Opera_section_6

The totally open-air theatre was designed to seat 480 and was built for $115,000 on a site carefully selected by Crosby and an acoustician friend, who fired off a series of rifle shots until they found the perfect natural location for an outdoor theatre. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_62

It was "the only outdoor theatre in America exclusively designed for opera". Santa Fe Opera_sentence_63

Audience members sat on benches. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_64

The architectural design calculations for the theatre were performed by Sergio Acosta, a structural engineer and immigrant from Panama who graduated from the University of Texas and was a resident of Albuquerque, NM from 1948 until his death at age 78. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_65

This was the location of the inaugural performance on opening night, 3 July 1957. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_66

Madama Butterfly played to a sold-out crowd. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_67

By the end of the eight-week season, the 12,000 people who attended accounted for sales at 90% of capacity. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_68

A mezzanine was added in 1965 but, on 27 July 1967, four weeks into the season, a fire destroyed the theatre, causing the company to move to a local downtown high school for the remainder of the season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_69

From the Sweeney Gymnasium, they created the "Sweeney Opera House", and completed the season, albeit without most of the original costumes or sets. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_70

A huge fund-raising operation took place, backed by Igor Stravinsky, and $2.4 million was raised to rebuild the theatre in time for the following season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_71

Rebuilt theatre, 1968 to 1997 Santa Fe Opera_section_7

The second theatre, a new open-air house seating 1,889, was ready for the start of the new season on 26 June 1968. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_72

Just like the company's opening night in 1957, it presented Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_73

The new theatre was designed by the Santa Fe firm of McHugh and Kidder. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_74

One of its principal features was the partial opening of the roof towards the middle of the orchestra section, provided by the curving, audience-facing slope of the stage roof and the thrust of the mezzanine and rear orchestra roof forward. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_75

Also, the auditorium's sides were open, as was the rear of the stage (although sliding doors could be closed). Santa Fe Opera_sentence_76

It provided for spectacular Westward views – as well as giving some centrally located audience members a view of the night sky. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_77

Most of the new theatre's backstage facilities, including scenery construction and storage and costume and props production, were actually constructed below the stage level in order to preserve the open views to the West. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_78

Additionally, a large elevator, located immediately behind the stage and known as the "B-Lift", was included and it became the means whereby scenery could be moved up one level from the scene construction shop to the stage or up or down two levels to or from the large scenery storage area located three levels below the stage. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_79

The elevator still remains in place. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_80

Crosby Theatre, since 1998 Santa Fe Opera_section_8

Renamed the Crosby Theatre (following the founder's death in 2002 and also reflecting the contributions of both of his parents in supporting the opera festival), the present theatre was designed by the architectural firm headed by James Polshek of New York. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_81

It was built during extensive reconstruction, which followed the tearing down of the auditorium of the 1968 theatre at the end of the opera season in late August 1997. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_82

The stage and backstage facilities such as dressing rooms and the costume shop as well as the scenery construction shop remained in place. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_83

The new theatre was completed in ten months for an early July 1998 opening of a new season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_84

Like the previous opening nights of 1957 and 1968, it featured a performance of Madama Butterfly this time sung by Miriam Gauci, the Maltese soprano who had her debut in the same role at the SFO in 1987. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_85

With fewer storm-related problems (and, with a higher stage roof providing a better view of the Westward landscape), the theatre now seats 2,128 plus 106 standees, although it has a strikingly intimate feel. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_86

It added a wider and more complete roof structure, with the new front and rear portions supported by cables and joined together with a clerestory window. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_87

This offers protection from the sky, but with the sides remaining open to the elements. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_88

The presence of wind baffles and, since 2001, Stieren Hall, the orchestra's rehearsal hall, has helped improve exposure on the southern, windward side of the auditorium. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_89

In 1999, as an alternative to installing a translation system using the projected supertitles (or surtitles), an electronic titles system was installed in the Crosby Theatre. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_90

Invented by Figaro Systems of Santa Fe (and only the second one installed after the Metropolitan Opera's Met Titles in 1995), the system provides small rectangular electronic screens in front of each patron's seat, showing a two-line translation of the sung text in either English or Spanish. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_91

The system has the possibility of handling up to six languages. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_92

Stieren Orchestra Hall Santa Fe Opera_section_9

Completed for the 2001 season under the patronage of Arthur and Jane Stieren, the hall fulfills the long-standing need for an orchestra rehearsal hall. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_93

Constructed on three levels with a total of 12,650 square feet (1,175 m), the building is also used for lectures, recitals, and social events. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_94

On its main level, guide rails attached to the ceiling indicate the dimensions of the theatre's main stage and offstage wings. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_95

This allows for scenery to be placed correctly, with access via large sliding doors from the scenery deck level, thus allowing fully staged rehearsals. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_96

The upper level contains rehearsal studios for one-on-one coaching for singers while the lower level features a large air-conditioned costume storage facility. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_97

Rehearsal halls Santa Fe Opera_section_10

Eight rehearsal halls exist on the campus grounds. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_98

They vary in size from the reproduction of the full-scale of the Crosby Theatre's stage and down to individual coaching studios for one-on-one coaching. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_99

Of the former group, the newest, completed for the 2010 season, is the Richard Gaddes Rehearsal Hall. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_100

It complements the existing full-size O'Shaughnessy Hall, which was rehabilitated for the 2012 season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_101

In addition, six other halls of varying sizes allow several productions to be rehearsed simultaneously. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_102

Dapples Pavilion, new cantina Santa Fe Opera_section_11

The original "cantina" dating from the 1970s was completely torn down after the 2007 season and construction of a new one was completed in time for the opening of the 2008 season. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_103

It contains modern kitchen facilities, new serving stations, and generally good protection from the rain for its patrons. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_104

Its arching roof matches the architectural lines of the Crosby Theatre and it bears some resemblance to the roofline of Denver Airport. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_105

Now known as the Dapples Pavilion (named after long-time supporter Florence Dapples), the cantina supplies season-long food and drink for the staff and artists from breakfast time to mid-afternoon. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_106

In addition, it functions as the location for pre-performance Preview Buffet dinners for up to about 200 members of the general public in the evenings. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_107

The evening includes an introductory talk about the evening's opera. Santa Fe Opera_sentence_108

See also Santa Fe Opera_section_12

Santa Fe Opera_unordered_list_4


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa Fe Opera.