Santa Fe Opera

Steve Jobs Opera Q&A

Santa-fe-operaMy Q&A with composer Mason Bates about his forthcoming Steve Jobs opera commissioned by Santa Fe Opera is on KQED Arts.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs has a world premiere in 2017. The opera will be workshopped next month in San Francisco in collaboration with Cal Performances and additional support from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Santa Fe Opera's 2016 Season

July 1- August 27 2016: La Fanciulla del West
July 2- August 26 2016: Don Giovanni
July 16- August 25 2016: Roméo et Juliette
July 23- August 19 2016: Capriccio
July 30- August 24 2016: Vanessa

Santa Fe announced a 2016 season yesterday. Patricia Racette sings Minnie in La Fanciulla del West. Daniel Okulitch sings the title role of Don Giovanni with Leah Crocetto, Isabel Leonard and Rhian Lois. Amanda Majeski and Susan Graham star in Capriccio. Erin Wall is Vanessa in Barber's opera.

Press Release [PDF] | Albuquerque Journal

Arabella at Santa Fe Opera

Santa-fe-opera-arabella* Notes *
This season's revival of Arabella (Act III pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) opened at Santa Fe Opera yesterday. Sir Andrew Davis conducted a vivid performance from the orchestra, and the strings were particularly beautiful.

Many of the smaller roles were filled by singers familiar to those of us from San Francisco, such as former Merolini Susanne Hendrix (Fortune Teller) and Jonathan Michie (Dominik). Current Adler Fellow Brian Jagde sang Count Elemer with strength. Dale Travis and Victoria Livengood convinced as Arabella's rather silly parents.

Heidi Stober sounded lovely as Zdenka, and was suitably naive and boyish. Mark Delavan could have sung Mandryka with a bit more heft, but the weight of his voice suits this venue better than the War Memorial. He did inhabit the character and his movements were appropriate to his role. Erin Wall sounded icy yet sturdy as Arabella.

Director Tim Albery's production is fluid, and designer Tobias Hoheisel's work detailed but sedate. The three semi-circle walls arranged in different configurations for each act certainly has appeal.

* Tattling * 
There was again a lot of talking at this performance. The woman in Mezzanine Row G, Seat 107 would not be silent, even when glared at several times.

Maometto II at Santa Fe Opera

Maometto-santa-fe-opera* Notes *
The opening of Santa Fe Opera's Maometto II (Act II pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) occurred a few weeks ago. The third performance yesterday evening had much appeal, in no small part because of Rossini's music, which was conducted by Frédéric Chaslin and played with spirit. The volume of the orchestra was held in check, and the singers were always audible.

The singing was less consistent, at least on this particular Friday night. The chorus had a few diffuse moments, but sounded lovely by the end of the opera. Patricia Bardon looked convincing as Calbo, and while she does have plenty of power, her singing is not beautiful. Likewise, Luca Pisaroni is a strong actor, but did not seem vocally suited to the title role. His is a pretty voice, but the low notes lack richness. His big aria ("All'invito generoso") in the second half had more vitality than his singing in Act I.

On the other hand, Bruce Sledge (Paolo Erisso) sounded bright, his voice seems to have the right weight to it for this music. There were a few moments of constriction in a few of his high notes, but this was easy to overlook. The obvious star of the performance was Leah Crocetto. Though her voice is a touch robust for Anna, she sang with ease and deftness. Her legato is gorgeous.

David Alden's production is economical, and works well with the scenic design from Jon Morrell. The staging, dancing, and music come together delightfully when the Turks make their entrance at the end of Act I.

* Tattling * 
There was much talking at this performance. A child seated in Row B of the mezzanine conducted with both hands during the opera, and his father simply joined in, and gestured as the music played.

Król Roger at Santa Fe Opera

Krol-roger-santa-fe-opera* Notes *
Szymanowski's Król Roger (Act I pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) opened last weekend at Santa Fe Opera. The second performance on Wednesday sounded strong, the orchestra held together under Maestro Evan Rogister. At times the volume obscured the singer's voices, but not often.

The production, directed by Stephen Wadsworth and with sets from Thomas Lynch, is clear and elegant. Shifts in the background and with the light (designed by Duane Schuler) are enough to change the scenes. The silence before the music started was engaging, as the characters quietly found their places on stage. Peggy Hickey's choreography looked comfortable on both the singers and dancers. The costumes, from Ann Hould-Ward, looked suitably grand.

The cast is even. Raymond Aceto is perfectly appropriate for the Archbishop, as is Dennis Petersen as Edrisi. Erin Morley (Roxana) has a cold, brilliant sound. William Burden impressed as the Shepard, his appealing tenor well-suited to the role. Mariusz Kwiecien was robust in the title role.

* Tattling * 
Only one person in the middle of the balcony talked during the performance, and was audible from Row D Seat 113 at least twice.

Wozzeck at Santa Fe Opera

  Wozzeck-act3* Notes *
Santa Fe Opera's revival of Wozzeck last Saturday was nothing short of impressive. The orchestra had a full and intense sound under David Robertson, only occasionally overwhelming the singers. Daniel Slater's production has a fine, stark clarity. The Fool (played by Randall Bills) as Wozzeck's double was artful. The set, designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, makes good use of the space, and is enhanced by Rick Fisher's lighting. The scene changes were smooth. There were just a few moments when the humming of motors or the impact of edges against one another could be heard. The costumes, also from Hopkins, are smart and use an attractive palette of colors. The stylized choreography from John Carrafa is sharply defined and suits Berg's music.

The singers were strong. The chorus was together and sounded almost strangely beautiful. Stuart Skelton was menacing as the Drum Major, yet his voice was appealingly warm and bright. Eric Owens was quite funny as the Doctor, with a rich, powerful sound. Robert Brubaker also made for a humorous Captain, his voice is pingy and cuts through the orchestration without being shrill. Nicola Beller Carbone (Marie) showed a range of emotions through her voice, her singing in Act III, Scene 1 was particularly lovely. Her physicality throughout the opera was admirable. Richard Paul Fink (pictured above in Act III, Scene 4, photograph by Ken Howard) gave a visceral and captivating performance as Wozzeck. Fink excels at Sprechstimme, and he inhabited the character completely.

* Tattling * 
It rained 30 minutes before the performance, and lightening was visible during the opera, but thunder was not noted. There was minor electronic noise in the form of watch alarms at 10pm. Standing room was not crowded. Some of the latecomers were audible, but not bothersome. I did have to use all of my powers of concentration to ignore the ushers whispering in the last five minutes of the opera.

Griselda at Santa Fe Opera

Griselda-act3 * Notes *
Vivaldi's Griselda (Act III pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) at Santa Fe Opera had a third performance last night. The small orchestra lilted under Maestro Grant Gershon, but were not always with the singers. The cast features many fine voices. Isabel Leonard (Constanza) looked lovely in her white ruffled gown with red trim, and has an attractive, dark voice. Her trills were strong. Amanda Majeski made for a convincing Ottone, if not a rather bird-like and pretty one, both physically and vocally. Yuri Minenko sang Corrado with a lightness that floated over the orchestra.

David Daniels (Roberto) sounded fairly sweet. He had a nice ease in Act I, but may have been more strained in the second half. Paul Groves made the best of the unsympathetic character of Gualterio. His sound is warm and pleasing, however, some of the coloratura of his arias seemed quite difficult. In the title role, Meredith Arwady sang with richness and depth. Her voice has some texture to it and is full without being overly loud. Overall the musical performance was vibrant but not perfectly cohesive. Vivaldi's music is beautiful, and that came through well.

The production, directed by Peter Sellars, is oddly static. There were a lot of giggles, but whether this was from confusion or engagement was not clear. Gronk's scenic design is bright, as are Dunya Ramicova's costumes. James F. Ingalls used the same strong colors in the lighting. On balance the effect is both lurid and a little boring. The production did not elucidate the plot, nor did it help bring the performance into focus.

* Tattling *
The person in RA 40 sounded like she was doing origami during the overture, and seemed baffled that I kept hushing her. Three latecomers surrounded me in the first 30 minutes of the show, and then it turned out they were not even in the correct spots. The tardy standees in RA 42-46 also spoke, but more quietly. There was noticeable audience attrition and more than three-fourths of the standing room was empty for Acts II and III.

Santa Fe Opera's 2012 Season

June 28- August 24 2012: Tosca
June 30 - August 25 2012: The Pearl Fishers
July 14- August 16 2012: Maometto II
July 21- August 14 2012: King Roger
July 28- August 23 2012: Arabella

Santa Fe just announced the 2012 season. Emmanuel Villaume conducts The Pearl Fishers. Leah Crocetto, Patricia Bardon, Bruce Sledge, and Luca Pisaroni have been cast in a new critical edition of Rossini's Maometto II . William Burden and Mariusz Kwiecien sing in Szymanowski's King Roger. Erin Wall sings the title role of Arabella, with Heidi Stober as Zdenka and Mark Delavan as Mandryka.

Season | Official Site

Santa Fe Opera's 2011 Season

July 1- August 27 2011: Faust
July 2- August 26 2011: La Bohème
July 16- August 19 2011: Griselda
July 23- August 25 2011: The Last Savage
July 30- August 17 2011: Wozzeck

Santa Fe just announced that their new chief conductor is Frederic Chaslin and what is coming up for the 2011 season. Bryan Hymel and Dimitri Pittas share the role of Faust, opposite of Ailyn Pérez. Ana María Martínez and David Lomelí sing in La Bohème. Meredith Arwady, David Daniels, and Amanda Majeski sing in Vivaldi's Griselda. Daniel Okulitch and Anna Christy are the leads in Menotti's The Last Savage, which is to be sung in English. Former Adler Fellow Sean Panikkar will also be in this opera. Richard Paul Fink sings the title role of Wozzeck, with Nicola Beller Carbone as Marie. Eric Owens will be the Doctor and Stuart Skelton the Drum Major.

Season | Official Site

Santa Fe Opera's 2010 Season

July 2- August 26 2010: Madame Butterfly
July 3- August 27 2010: The Magic Flute
July 17- August 28 2010: The Tales of Hoffmann
July 24- August 19 2010: Life is a Dream
July 31- August 25 2010: Albert Herring

The 2010 season at Santa Fe Opera opens with Madame Butterfly with Kelly Kaduce singing the title role. Charles Castronovo sings Tamino in The Magic Flute. The season also includes the world premiere of Lewis Spratlan's Life is a Dream with Leonard Slatkin conducting. Former Adler Fellow Alek Shrader is singing the role of Albert Herring, with Christine Brewer as Lady Billows.

Season | Official Site

Santa Fe Opera's 2009 Season

July 3- August 29 2009: La Traviata
July 4- August 28 2009: L'Elisir d'Amore
July 18- August 27 2009: Don Giovanni
July 25- August 18 2009: The Letter
August 1-19 2009: Alceste

The 2009 season at Santa Fe Opera opens with La Traviata with Natalie Dessay singing Violetta. Elza van den Heever has her Santa Fe Opera debut as Donna Anna, and Lucas Meachem sings the title role. The season also includes the world premiere of Paul Moravec's The Letter, with Patricia Racette in the role of Leslie Crosbie. The Baroque opera this year is Gluck, with Christine Brewer as Alceste and Paul Groves making his Santa Fe Opera debut as Admete.

Press Release | Official Site

Lucia at ENO

LuciaenoThe English National Opera presented Lucia di Lammermoor for the first time this season, and the last performance was yesterday. The adorable Anna Christy made her British debut in the title role, despite recently suffering bronchitis. She has a sweet, warbling sort of voice, and from the reviews, it sounds like she was adequate, not distinguishing herself but not awful either. She certainly didn't get as much attention as the whole lip-synching incident of the opening performance.


The Lucia production looks quite tame for David Alden, dark but not absurd. Neil Fisher titled his Times interview "David Alden, the Stephen King of Opera," which I don't find particularly apt, having seen half a dozen of Alden's productions. Stephen King is popular, and is known for horror. David Alden's productions did not seem popular at Bayerische Staatsoper, where I heard him booed a couple of times. Nor was his Rodelinda at San Francisco Opera popular, though not nearly as reviled as Anna Viebrock's Alcina or the recent Macbeth from Zürich.


David Alden's work isn't exactly horror either, though he did have the valkyries give the audience gesto dell'ombrello with those wands airport ground handlers use in Die Walküre, for which he was he was roundly booed for at the end of the premiere. The enormous Playmobil doll whose trousers fall down in Rinaldo was also vaguely horrific (and also garnered the audience's vitriol), though I did like the cupcake frosting hairdos on the sirens. His Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria  has the distinction of being the only opera performance for which I had a ticket for but did not turn up to simply because I could not bear to watch what he had done with Monteverdi another time.

Trexgiuliocesare_2It is more self-indulgent than truly scary, even the T-Rex used for Giulio Cesare is not frightening! This image was used in Bayerische Staatsoper's advertising, and alas, I never managed to see it, as it was put on shortly before I arrived in Munich. For the past few years I've successfully avoided David Alden's productions and I'm slightly annoyed to see that the Radamisto at Santa Fe this summer is his. As there are not many Baroque operas being performed at major opera companies, it does seem inevitable that I will be forced to see Alden's work again.

Times Interview | ENO | BSO | Santa Fe Opera

Santa Fe Opera's 2008 Season

June 27- August 23 2008: Falstaff
June 28- August 22 2008: Le Nozze di Figaro
July 12- August 21 2008: Billy Budd
July 19- August 20 2008: Radamisto
July 26- August 12 2008: Adriana Mater

The next season at Santa Fe Opera includes the US premiere of Kaija Saariaho's newest opera. Naturally the production of Händel is from David Alden, whose work I am all too familiar with from Munich. David Daniels will be singing the title role of Radamisto. William Burden is singing Starry Vere in Billy Budd. Mariusz Kwiecien will be singing Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro.

Press Release | Season Overview