Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Toast to Santa Fe Opera 2012!

For some New Mexico residents, the beginning of summer means opera season.  The Santa Fe Opera opens its season on June 29, and continues over July and August, with operas performed several times a week.  The hills of Santa Fe make a perfect backdrop and the real storms often seen around the edges of the stage enhance dramatic performances.  The setting is one of the things that make SFO one of the most sought after opera venues in the world.  Performers, singers, musicians, choreographers, directors, set designers, apprentices, and patrons come from all over the world to be part of the magic of SFO.
Even if you’re not a fan of opera, being a part of the Santa Fe Opera scene just once is a pretty amazing experience.  The opera parking lot in the hours before a performance is a sight to behold.  Tailgate parties are very popular at SFO.  Some tailgaters pull out all stops bringing hibachi grills, crystal stemware, fine china, beautiful floral centerpieces and elaborate meals.  The rest of us make do with homemade sandwiches, eaten off paper plates, sitting in the bed of a truck, but enjoy the atmosphere nonetheless.  While dressing up is not a requirement at the opera it is always fun to see what New Mexicans will pull out of their closets to wear to an opera.  Sometimes it’s jeans and a t-shirt, sometimes an evening gown.  Sometimes it’s bright pink Converse worn with a tux, sometimes it’s a diamond tiara and a fur coat.  People-watching at the Santa Fe Opera is never boring. 
You also might be interested in taking a backstage tour at the theater to see how these performances are put together and get a close up look at the sets and costumes.  In the summer these tours are offered daily and don’t require reservations.  Adults have to pay a five dollar fee, but kids up to age 17 can join in for free.  Click here for more details.  The Prelude Talks, which are free to ticket holders, before every opera performance are a good way to get in the opera mood, with information and history about the operas being staged. 

If tickets are sold out, which sometimes happens months before a performance begins, take a look at santafeopera.org for suggestions, as well as information about tailgating and the opera shuttle service to and from Albuquerque.  There are lots of ways to ease yourself into opera without actually sitting through a performance.  Even when the official opera season is over Santa Fe Opera offers concerts, lectures, and other performances, shown both at the opera site just outside Santa Fe and at performance spaces around the state.  SFO’s Community Concerts, which feature singers from the Apprentice Program, are even free, although still require reservations.  Sign up to receive emails from SFO to be up to date on the very latest and always make sure you make your reservations or buy your tickets well in advance as events are booked quickly! 

Santa Fe Opera also tries to get kids interested in opera at an early age by selling tickets for Family Nights or Youth Nights. These tickets are usually for dress rehearsal performances and are available to families with children, to give kids a chance to see an opera performance.  Be sure to call well in advance.  Like all other opera performances these tickets sell out fast.

Even from home you can appreciate opera.  Check out the library for CDs, DVDs and books about opera, including some wonderfully illustrated ones for children.  Page One Bookstore will be hosting a book discussion with Desiree Mays, author of Opera Unveiled, a book that talks about the operas being performed in Santa Fe this year, on June 25. 

Opera CDs:

The Miracle of the Voice

Romantic Arias

Great Tenors of the Century

Opera DVDs:

La Traviata


The Tales of Hoffmann

Opera books:

Opera by Robert Cannon

Fantastic Opera: The Great Operas by John Martinez

The Santa Fe Opera: An American Pioneer by Phillip Huscher

Opera books for kids:

The Random House Book of Opera Stories retold by Adele Geras
Aida as told by Leontyne Price, based on the opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Carmen: An Urban Adaptation of the Opera by Walter Dean Myers

Some of the unique fun of living in New Mexico is discovering the opera.  Come see for yourself one of the reasons why our Land of Enchantment becomes world-famous every summer.  Here's a toast to the opera!

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