(June 29 – August 25, 2012) No one in the world of opera better illustrates the adage that “If you build it, they will come” than John Crosby, when in 1957, at age 31, he built a tiny (480-seat) open air opera house on a ranch he had just bought on the outskirts of Santa Fe, and began his first season. What is known as the Miracle in the Desert was underway – that an opera festival hundreds of miles from major population centers could survive and thrive. When he retired in 2000, Crosby’s 43-year tenure as general director was the longest in American history. The original bandbox is now a 2200-seat edifice that still is partially open, something Time magazine called “one of the handsomest operatic settings in the Western hemisphere”. Many operaphiles refer to Santa Fe as the “Salzburg of the Southwest,” a reference to arguably the most prestigious European music festival.
With an original budget of just $110,000 (it’s now $11,000,000), Crosby made a virtue of necessity by hiring talented young singers. He also instituted an apprenticeship program for singers, which has helped train more than 1,500 participants. A decade later he added an apprenticeship program for technical personnel. His programming was equally innovative. Santa Fe Opera is the only company in which the works of Richard Strauss outnumber the combined totals of Puccini and Verdi. He presented nearly a dozen world premieres (many of which he commissioned) and numerous American premieres. Each five-opera summer season—which usually runs from early July to late August and is normally a sellout—continues to represent Crosby’s vision and almost always includes a Strauss, two familiar operas, a world or American premiere, and a rarely performed work.
And if this isn’t enough, the organization also provides year-round opera-related community activities that include concerts, lectures, films, and an annual One-Hour Opera. Educational activities appeal to all grade levels and include the award-winning Pueblo Opera Program, which involves thousands of New Mexico’s Native American young people.
Santa Fe Opera (Santa Fe, NM) Information
- Public Transportation: A shuttle service is available from Santa Fe and Albuquerque ($19-$33).
- Performance/Programs: SFO performs a season of five operas each summer.
- Admission: Tickets are $26-$188. Group discounts available.
- Subscription/Memberships: 3-opera subscriptions available for $75-$546, 4-opera for $100-$728, and 5-opera for $125-$910. Subscriber benefits include 25% savings and free ticket exchanges. Memberships start at $150 and include a 10% discount at the opera gift shop.