11 Moments You’ll Always Remember from a Summer Trip to Santa Fe

Note: Santa Fe is filled with moments sure to take root in your memory around each and every corner. Local author Zoe Baillargeon shared her “11 Moments You’ll Always Remember from a Summer Trip to Santa Fe” with Matador Network. 

Santa Fe fully earns its nickname of The City Different — there’s really nowhere else like it, whether you’re talking about the world-class art, the cuisine, or simply the one-of-a-kind architecture that sets the city apart. There’s more to explore here than you could possibly fit into a single trip. But if you’re on the hunt for a summer vacation that will create memories you’ll never forget, this is the place. Here are 11 moments waiting for you in Santa Fe.

Order My 2019 Santa Fe Travel Guide


Read More

The Santa Fe Opera: Summer in Song

Singing the praises of Santa Fe––it’s a never-ending tune. This year alone, our International Folk Art Market took top honors as USA Today’s 10 Best Art Festival, with Art Santa Fe close behind; and three Santa Fe hotels scored spots in the 10 Best Hotel Spas. Tuning into the best of the City Different is a skill worth practicing. In less than a month, however, the practicing ends and the music begins when the sun goes down and the lights come up at the renowned Santa Fe Opera. Now that’s worth singing about!

The Santa Fe Opera: The song of summer starts here!
The Santa Fe Opera: The song of summer starts here!

 

Inspiration Has a Santa Fe History

Who could have imagined back in the 1950’s that Santa Fe would be home to a world-class opera company? John Crosby did––by envisioning and creating a place for American singers, both professionals and those on the cusp of their careers, to hone their craft at home. SFO’s mission extends beyond vocal artistry, since the pioneering Apprentice Program cultivates stagecraft too. Over the 59 years since 1957’s inaugural season, Mr. Crosby’s vision has become a glorious reality. His inspirational guidance led the company forward before he ceded leadership in 2000 to the innovative Richard Gaddes, who in 2008 handed over the reins to native Santa Fean Charles MacKay, now SFO’s General Director. And Mr. MacKay knows how to ride into the future––seven successful seasons are about to become eight!

SFO Founder––and General Director for 43 phenomenal seasons––John Crosby watches a rehearsal with his mentor, composer Igor Stravinsky. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Opera)
SFO Founder––and General Director for 43 phenomenal seasons––John Crosby watches a rehearsal with his mentor, composer Igor Stravinsky. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Opera)
 It takes a village of skillful apprentices to put on a two-month season at SFO! (Photo Credit: Paul Horpedahl, Santa Fe Opera Production Director)
It takes a village of skillful apprentices to put on a two-month season at SFO! (Photo Credit: Paul Horpedahl, Santa Fe Opera Production Director)

One Opera + Two Months = A Repertoire of Five

From its inception, the Opera has been dedicated to showcasing music, drama and technical wizardry via treasured classics, revivals of neglected works, and remarkable premieres. The 2015 season––a mix of beloved standards and new revelations––is no exception. Five all-new (yes!) productions begin Friday, July 3, as scintillating soprano Anna Christy pours her heart out to Alek Shrader in The Daughter of the Regiment. Expect to feel all misty when the audience stands for the traditional singing of the National Anthem before this comedic Donizetti romp begins! No rest for the crew; Saturday’s quick change readies the stage for Verdi’s masterful Rigoletto, with 2015 Beverly Sills award-winner Quinn Kelsey in the title role. A return to founder Crosby’s favorite composer Richard Strauss comes with Salome when petite powerhouse Alex Penda adds the dance of the seven veils to her arias! Mozart is a Santa Fe regular and SFO offers a vocal bouquet in La Finta Giardiniera (composed at a mere 18 years old!) featuring William Burden, Heidi Stober and Susanna Phillips (another Beverly Sills Award winner). August brings the world-premiere of composer Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain, with Charles Frazier’s best-seller hero and heroine sung by the amazing Nathan Gunn and Isabel Leonard (both previous recipients of the Beverly Sills Award).

It’s easy to imagine barihunk (that’s opera lingo for a dreamy baritone) Nathan Gunn as Inman in the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain! (Photo Credit: M. Sharkey Photography)
It’s easy to imagine barihunk (that’s opera lingo for a dreamy baritone) Nathan Gunn as Inman in the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain! (Photo Credit: M. Sharkey Photography)

Preludes Are Arranged for the Performance

Although what appears onstage is the ultimate draw, a bevy of singular experiences add zest to the vocal fireworks. Before an opera evening, consider daytime education in the newly-renovated hub of stagecraft magic below the stunning outdoor stage. One-hour backstage tours ($10 adults, $8 seniors, kids free) take place 9:00 a.m. Monday-Friday; augment your backstage prowl with a $10 tour of the extensive “Opera Ranch” grounds––including a “Meet the Artist treat––10:00 a.m. on the last Friday of June, July and August. Saturdays from June 6–August 29, the Opera Guild hosts free Insiders Days, with 8:15 a.m. refreshments before the backstage tour.

Even the mannequins waiting patiently in the Santa Fe Opera Costume Shop have roles to perform this summer!
Even the mannequins waiting patiently in the Santa Fe Opera Costume Shop have roles to perform this summer!

Refreshments got your attention? In that case, I recommend dining at the Opera! The July 3–4 Opening Weekend Celebration offers full-bore festivities, and the first performance of every opera is enhanced with an elegant three-course Opening Night dinner set amidst SFO’s lush landscape. Nightly preview buffets include an engaging talk on the performance while you relax over dinner and a glass of wine on the flowery patio. Critical note: once the overture starts, no seating until the first intermission!

Settle in under the white tent for dinner and an informative talk on the night’s performance at a preview buffet.
Settle in under the white tent for dinner and an informative talk on the night’s performance at a preview buffet.

For do-it-yourselfers, SFO tailgate parties are as traditional as at major league games––after all, we’re talking major league opera here. Feel free to go for the works, white tablecloths, candelabras and champagne flutes; or simply bring a pair of chairs and pre-order a tailgate dinner before heading to Stieren Hall for a free prelude talk.

Committed tailgaters like Jennifer and Khristaan Villela dress up the dining canopy to complement the formal wear! (Photo Credit: Lara Nickel)
Committed tailgaters like Jennifer and Khristaan Villela dress up the dining canopy to complement the formal wear! (Photo Credit: Lara Nickel)

Be Prepared to Be Enthralled

Be aware that weather affects fashion and comfort, but you’ll see tuxedos alongside cargo pants and diamonds rubbing elbows with denim. Locals’ tip for visitors: bring a warm wrap to accommodate for our 7,000-foot altitude.

Smart operagoers plan for a spot of changeable Santa Fe weather!
Smart operagoers plan for a spot of changeable Santa Fe weather!

Love of top-drawer opera suffers no economic boundaries since SFO makes it as affordable as possible. Subscriptions are the best way to see more than one opera and you can even craft your own series. Standing room tickets go on sale the day of the performance. If you’re cultivating a young artist, August 16 and 23 Apprentice Concerts are ideal for inspiring little ones who sing in the shower. You can even get a gift certificate to surprise the opera fan in your family. On the subject of gifts, Opera Shop goodies include the 2015 season poster by celebrated Native American artist Dan Namingha.

Understudy duties at the Santa Fe Opera mean apprentices must be ready to suddenly step on stage in a principal role––and Shelley Jackson did just that in 2014’s Don Pasquale! (Photo Credit: Ken Howard for the Santa Fe Opera)
Understudy duties at the Santa Fe Opera mean apprentices must be ready to suddenly step on stage in a principal role––and Shelley Jackson did just that in 2014’s Don Pasquale! (Photo Credit: Ken Howard for the Santa Fe Opera)

The Stage is Set for Your Santa Fe Visit

I guess it’s obvious that I’m a big fan––decades of Santa Fe Opera delights will do that! Year after year, talented and passionate souls come together to fill the piñon-covered hills with the sound of music as summer colors paint the sky above this cutting-edge edifice. It’s no wonder the Crosby Theater made USA Today’s list of 10 Best Outdoor Music Venues. A night––and a day––at the Santa Fe Opera is a summer must!

A night at the Santa Fe Opera is an electrifying experience! (Photo Credit: Paul Horpedahl, Santa Fe Opera Production Director)
A night at the Santa Fe Opera is an electrifying experience! (Photo Credit: Paul Horpedahl, Santa Fe Opera Production Director)