The Santa Fe Opera has been around for the same amount of time as Wendy Kapp, owner of Two Casitas! Since 1957, The Opera house has been providing tens of thousands of audience members a year with an absolutely unique opera experience. Beyond the consistently excellent content that The Opera House offers, its construction and location perfectly showcases New Mexico’s natural beauty along with its historical architecture. People from all over the planet consistently flock to Santa Fe, and take the short drive North in order to experience this timeless art form in one of its most acclaimed settings. It has consistently helped to fuel New Mexico’s tourism industry by motivating fans of art of all kinds to experience Opera in a setting that they never have before.
Of course, the setting of The Opera is only part of the experience. It serves to enhance the experience of the art form itself. The Opera House has dedicated itself to the innovation and enhancement of the operatic arts while still preserving many of its traditions. They combine new, old, classic and obscure performances under a single roof in order to appeal to as many fans as possible. Anyone can enjoy an opera in any language because each seat has a screen with subtitles that are meticulously synced to each performance. This is a consistent and exciting challenge for all of the staff and performers, as they have to keep up with the wide variety of demands that all of the productions make of them. Because of this, people who work at The Opera House have an incredibly vast knowledge of all forms of opera. Over 140 separate operas have been performed an average of ten times each, and there have been forty American premieres, among them Lulu, The Cunning Little Vixen, Capriccio, and Daphne. Recent premieres include the world premiere of Madame Mao, commissioned from Bright Sheng, in 2003, the premiere of the revised version of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, in 2005, the American premiere of Thomas Ades’s The Tempest, in 2006, and the American premiere of Tan Dun’s Tea: A Mirror of Soul in 2007. The 2008 season included the American premiere of Adriana Mater by Kaija Saariaho, whose L’amour de loinreceived its American premiere here in 2002. In 2009, the world premiere of The Letter by Paul Moravec was performed here.
The unique setting and reputation of The Santa Fe Opera has not only drawn audiences, but many world class staff workers and performers. People in nearly every department come from countries all over the world, so they help to bring a truly international and worldly flavor to the pieces performed there. They are able to bring a deeper understanding to foreign-language pieces due to their intimate understanding of those cultures. Local Santa Fe singers such as Susan Graham, Patricia Racette, Joyce DiDonato, William Burden, Kristine Jepson, Michelle DeYoung, and Charles Castronovo have also started their international careers in Santa Fe, which is further proof of its place in the worldwide opera scene.
The Opera House has been dedicated to developing artists since its foundation. New Mexico was chosen as a location by John Crosby from New York in order to provide ample time, space, and training for singers who were transitioning from the academic world into professional circles. This has provided an opportunity for over 1,500 singers and almost all of them have moved on to become either professional singers, teachers at universities, or private opera coaches. The program was quickly extended to include training systems for technicians, set-designers, and any profession that is useful in the opera production community.
Since the turn of the millenium, Richard Gaddes took over direction of The Opera House after leaving a similar position at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He has contributed to The Opera House’s rich and diverse culture by providing a venue for many local productions during the off-season. He also has broadened the audience by live-streaming to parks in Albuquerque and Downtown Santa Fe. The Pueblo Opera Program also has reached out to Native American communities and introduced the art form to another facet of New Mexico’s local culture. The Santa Fe Opera House’s commitment to providing its art to as many people as possible has widened the popularity of Opera in The Southwest and has ensured that it will stay around for quite some time.