Opera lovers have been drawn to the magnificent northern New Mexico mountains to enjoy productions by one of America's premier summer opera festivals since 1957.
An annual audience of 85,000 is attracted to the Opera for its premier performances, and the juxtaposition of nature and art, as accented by the Santa Fe Opera's unique adobe design. outside New Mexico, representing every state in the union as well as 25 to 30 foreign countries
The mission of the Santa Fe Opera is to advance the operatic art form, and they do this quite successfully by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality with a varied repertoire of new, rarely performed, and standard works. Furthermore, the Santa Fe Opera works to ensure opera's future through apprentice programs.
To date, the Santa Fe Opera has put on more than 1,600 performances of nearly 140 different operas, and the Santa Fe Opera is home to nine world premieres and 40 American premieres, among them Capriccio, Daphne, and Lulu.
In the last decade premieres include the world premiere of Madame Mao; the premiere of the revised version of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar; the American premier of Thomas Ades's The Tempest; the American premiere of Tan Dun's Tea: A Mirror of Soul, and more.
The Opera's amazing casts are drawn from the world's most talented young singers, many of which whose names are now found on the rosters of the world's leading opera houses, including Charles Castronovo, Susan Graham, Michelle DeYoung, Patricia Racette, and William Burden.
Founded by the late John Crosby, a young conductor from New York, Crosby wanted to start an opera company that focused on giving American singers an opportunity to learn and perform new roles in a setting that allowed ample time to rehearse and prepare each production.
John Crosby was succeeded as founding General Director by Richard Gaddes in 2000. Gaddes was the founding General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Artistic Administrator of The Santa Fe Opera, and President of Grand Center, St. Louis. During his tenure in Santa Fe Gaddes implemented a wide range of new programming, including community-based productions in the off-season and simulcasts to Albuquerque and a park in downtown Santa Fe. Richard Gaddes retired following the 2008 season, and was succeeded by Charles MacKay, who is third General Director in SFO's history. MacKay was also General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis prior to returning to Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe Opera has a wide array of education and community outreach programs designed to make opera accessible and appealing to a broad spectrum of the New Mexico population. Their unique Pueblo Opera Program serves Native American youth from nineteen pueblos and three reservations in the state of New Mexico. The theater itself features 'Opera Titles' –- a small screen in front of every seat, which allows patrons to follow the stage action in either English or Spanish.
One of New Mexico's cultural and economic leaders, the reputation of the Santa Fe Opera attracts thousands of patrons each year, and its impact on the New Mexico's economy has been calculated at more than $200 million each year.