Santa Fe Opera is well worth the trip

Companion and I had an amazing time visiting and enjoying the world class opera festival.  It will run through August and here is the schedule.

  • La Fanciulla del West


    “There’s a path to redemption for every one of you boys.”

    Minnie, the indomitable heroine of The Girl of the Golden West, can hold her own with the boys at her saloon. She loves her solitary life in the mountains, but she loves her man more. Yes, you’ve met her before: First imagined by David Belasco, a giant of the American theater, she set the pattern for women characters in scores of Westerns. But on the opera stage, her authenticity will astonish you. Puccini deemed La Fanciulla del West his best opera; critics call it his most “perfectly crafted score.” The harsh realities of the California Gold Rush and its gritty characters have never been more honestly portrayed in drama. Distinguished American soprano Patricia Racette (The Letter, 2009) makes her role debut as Minnie, who will do just about anything to get her man — the outlaw Dick Johnson, portrayed by Gwyn Hughes Jones (La Bohème, 2007). But that leads to a tense, climactic face-off with his competition, the shady sheriff Jack Rance, sung by Mark Delavan (Arabella, 2012). Staged by British Theatre and opera director Richard Jones in his company debut, and co-produced with the English National Opera, this production won the 2015 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. Emmanuel Villaume (The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, 2013) conducts.

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    Don Giovanni



    “He betrayed me, he abandoned me — why do I still love him?”

    Funny, terrifying, romantic, tragic — Mozart’s setting of the Don Juan story is an opera with everything, including some of the greatest music ever composed for the lyric stage. Is Don Giovanni a rogue or a sociopath? Are his women victims, or willing accomplices? In this new production, dynamic baritone Daniel Okulitch (The Last Savage, 2011), sings the title role. Soprano Leah Crocetto, impressive in Rossini’s Maometto II (2012), sings the Don’s nemesis, Donna Anna. Complex and tormented, the vengeful Donna Elvira is sung by Keri Alkema in her Santa Fe Opera debut. Edgaras Montvidas makes his Santa Fe debut as the loyal and steadfast Don Ottavio. Zerlina — perhaps not quite the bumpkin she seems to be — is sung by Rhian Lois in her American debut. As Leporello, the frustrated servant, we hear bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen in his company debut. Guiding the action is director Ron Daniels, former Associate Director of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, who makes his debut with this production. John Nelson (The Marriage of Figaro, 2013) conducts.

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    Roméo et Juliette


    “If I cannot be his, I’ll let the grave be my wedding-bed.”

    Charles Gounod was a master of graceful melody, French elegance and superb musical craft. But in the lush tunefulness of Roméo et Juliette we hear something more: the sound of youth and of overwhelming love. Gounod’s music makes the heart leap and the rest of the world seem to disappear as he immerses us in one of the greatest of all romances. As the opera opens, Juliette’s exuberant “Waltz Song” displays her alluring femininity, while Roméo is the model of moody, masculine impetuosity. But their shared love matures them both, and their intense duets convey a deepening commitment that transcends their ages and their families’ petty quarrels. The rising young soprano Ailyn Pérez, who captivated as Gounod’s Marguerite in Faust (2011), sings Juliette; tenor Stephen Costello debuts as Roméo. Elliot Madore makes his first Santa Fe appearance as Mercutio. Emily Fons, last heard in Cold Mountain (2015), portrays Roméo’s page, Stéphano (July 16 – August 16). Chief Conductor Harry Bicket takes the podium. The stage director is Stephen Lawless, who directed the Opera’s compelling 2011 production of Faust.

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    “In choosing one, will I lose the other?”

    Only a master looking back on a lifetime of craft could have composed the unique, dazzling entertainment that is Capriccio — the opera that Richard Strauss called his “conversation piece for music.” In Capriccio, Strauss gives us two women of intoxicating allure: the incomparably sophisticated Countess Madeleine and her friend Clairon, a beautiful actress. The Countess’s charm and artistic refinement are irresistible to the poet Olivier and his rival Flamand, a composer. In a classic debate, they vie for the primacy of their respective arts and for the Countess’s love. As the Countess, the acclaimed soprano Amanda Majeski (Griselda, 2011) returns to Santa Fe; her foil, Clairon, is sung by the internationally renowned New Mexico native Susan Graham. Celebrated bass-baritone David Govertsen portrays the theater director La Roche. Tenor Ben Bliss, a recent graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Program, debuts as Flamand; his rival Olivier is sung by baritone Joshua Hopkins, Nardo in this season’s La Finta Giardiniera. Leo Hussain (La Traviata, 2013) conducts this production, directed by Tim Albery, who staged 2015’s La Finta Giardiniera and 2012’s Arabella.

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    First Performance: Saturday, July 30
    Last Performance: Wednesday, August 24

    “Say you love me, or leave this house forever.”

    Secure in the comforts of her opulent surroundings, Vanessa is a woman haunted. The mirrors are shrouded and the clocks are stopped, as they have been since she was abandoned by her lover years ago. Now, with the arrival of a handsome stranger – the young Anatol – a gothic love story unfolds as Erika, Vanessa’s niece, falls in love with him. Is she her aunt’s rival? As Anatol’s relationship with both women grows deeper and more ambiguous, is Erika reliving Vanessa’s doomed affair? With music by Samuel Barber and libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti, Vanessa casts a spell of secrets, deception and densely layered emotion. As Vanessa we hear soprano Erin Wall and as Anatol tenor Zach Borichevsky, both of whom last appeared in 2012’s Arabella. Contralto Helene Schneiderman debuts as the Old Baroness; Erika is sung by mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez, recent winner of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals. In the role of the Old Doctor, James Morris makes his long-awaited return to Santa Fe. Leonard Slatkin (Life is a Dream, 2010) conducts. James Robinson directs, reuniting the creative team from 2014’s Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

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    Apprentice Showcase Scenes


    “The list of singers who have had important career breaks at Santa Fe reads like an honor roll of American opera’s most exciting artists.” – Opera News

    The Singer and Technical Apprentices of Santa Fe Opera take center stage for two evenings of fully-staged opera scenes. From Mozart to Verdi to Wagner, these “operatic samplers” are perfect for both the opera lover and the opera novice!