From the unlikeliest of beginnings — an opera company located hundreds of miles from any major city, featuring American singers in a wide-ranging and challenging repertory, and treating theatrical and musical values as equally important in its productions — The Santa Fe Opera has grown to become recognized as one of the world’s leading cultural festivals.
Every summer since 1957, opera lovers have been drawn to the magnificent northern New Mexico mountains to enjoy productions at The Santa Fe Opera. Here, the company’s dramatic adobe theater blends harmoniously with the landscape. It is this fusion of nature and art that leaves such an enduring impression on all who visit. More than half the audience comes from outside New Mexico, representing every state in the union as well as dozens of foreign countries, creating a significant impact on the economy of the State of New Mexico.
The Santa Fe Opera’s mission is to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality in a unique setting with a varied repertoire of new, rarely performed, and standard works; to ensure the excellence of opera’s future through apprentice programs for singers, technicians and arts administrators; and to foster and enrich an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public. More than 2,000 performances of 164 different operas have been given here, including fourteen world premieres and 45 American premieres.
The company was founded by the late John Crosby, a young conductor from New York, who had an idea of starting an opera company to give American singers an opportunity to learn and perform new roles in a setting that allowed ample time to rehearse and prepare each production. Crosby was succeeded as founding General Director by Richard Gaddes in 2000. During his tenure in Santa Fe he 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. He retired following the 2008 season when Charles MacKay became the third General Director in The Santa Fe Opera’s history. Under MacKay’s leadership, the Opera has maintained a balanced budget through a tumultuous economic period and continues to present bold and innovative repertory.