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Santa Fe Opera House Enhances Music for All By Shying Away From the Norm

By Elisha Neubauer

In 1957, a young conductor by the name of John Crosby decided to launch the Santa Fe Opera House. Hailing from New York, Crosby was well-emerged in the arts and wanted a place in the New Mexico area that would offer American singers an opportunity to learn and perform new roles in a setting that allowed ample time to rehearse and prepare each production. His dream became reality and has since grown over its fifty-nine years in operation, becoming one of the leading locations for opera festivals in the world.

Along with the Opera House, Crosby kicked off a program that still touches the lives of professional and amateur students to this very day: the Apprentice Program for Singers, a program designed to aid young singers in the transition from academic to professional life in the opera industry. "More than 1,500 aspiring singers have participated in the program," explains Daniel Zillmann, Director of Media and Public Relations for the Santa Fe Opera House. "Many are professional performers; others are teachers and coaches at major opera companies and universities."

In 1965, the company added an additional program, an apprentice program for theater technicians, which has also since become a valuable asset to the Opera House. Since it's opening, the Opera House has hosted more than 2,000 performances of 164 different operas, including fourteen world premieres (our fifteenth is in 2017, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs) and forty-five American premieres. "The company has a commitment to standard repertory, little-performed operas, and new works," states Zillmann.

The Opera House has many goals, both long term and short term, all of which stem from its mission statement, which can be found on the website. One of their goals, which is currently already underway, is to complete the renovation project which had been previously started. "The second phase of Santa Fe Opera's renovation and building project of the public and backstage areas has been successfully completed," explains Zillmann. "The Opera Club has been completely rebuilt, fitted with an elevator to increase access from the orchestra seating to the main plaza and mezzanine level, and a second story has been added with spectacular views of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo Mountains."

Future projects that will be occurring during the renovation process include enhancements to the orchestra pit, a complete renovation to the main patron parking lot, and on-site storage for props and scenery.

For those skeptical of an evening of opera, Zillmann believes that the Santa Fe Opera House is the perfect place to get your feet wet. "Opera is a wonderful means of storytelling," he declares. "We feel that it is for everyone, and encourage prospective opera-goers to try it at least once." He continues, saying, "And if they are still skeptical, a night at Santa Fe Opera is about the complete experience."

What experience is he detailing? It's the sunset behind the Jemez Mountains and reflections on the Sangre de Cristos, socializing on the terraces and people watching, tailgating in our parking lot, enjoying the Preview Buffet Lectures and the free Prelude Talks. "Everything leading up to some of the most incredible opera with internationally-acclaimed artists and innovative productions."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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