So what ARE you doing this summer? If you’re craving a different summer adventure, then Santa Fe is your destination. Slip some of our signature summer events into your vacation or getaway, and you won’t be disappointed. By the way, the fun here lasts all summer!
Each passing year brings with it new reasons to celebrate in Santa Fe and 2016 has been no different — with newly founded art collective Meow Wolf's The House of Eternal Return and the newly launched Santa Fe Margarita Trail Santa Fe, known as ‘The City Different’ for over a century, presents visitors with a range of special anniversaries this year. Here are but just a few celebrations to enjoy!
Santa Fe is historically linked to the days of cowboys and gunslingers, covered wagons and pioneers. The city was built on adventure, action and excitement! Buildings on the Plaza and downtown Santa Fe offer visitors and residents the opportunity to step into character. Take a walk through downtown to see a film history that spans over 100 years and across more than 600 productions.
Recently, New Mexico was named by Trade Publications as one of the “Top Five” film locations in the entire world. Movies like “No Country for Old Men”, “Crazy Heart”, and “True Grit” have all been produced using the New Mexico landscape as a backdrop. TV classics like Breaking Bad—infamously known for its Albuquerque location—have even come to share the stage in Santa Fe. (Be sure to check out the New Mexico Film and Media Industry Conference, too!) Read More
There is so much to see and do this coming August in Santa Fe! With Summer of Color in full swing and a wide range of events taking place, you’ll see why we love August.
Two Markets, One Weekend
The Santa Fe Indian Market is one of the biggest events in Santa Fe and also the largest and most prestigious intertribal fine art market in the world. You will see visitors interacting with over 1,000 of the “best of the best” Native artists and designers in this two day festival market. Check out our calendar for more events revolving around Indian Market as numerous galleries and other venues around the city host special events during the week.
One event overlapping Indian Market weekend is the Indigenous Fine Arts Market. IFAM is a celebration of native art and cultures. IFAM’s art events, music and literary programs, aim to create a greater understanding of the complexity and beauty of Native American culture and people as they exist today. IFAM is also a juried art show.
Standing, clapping, dancing and cheering — there’s more than one way to appreciate a terrific performance. Once you’re in-the-know, you’ll have more than one historic Santa Fe spot for discovering the musical pleasures of the season. Since I’m totally Tuned Into Santa Fe, I’ve written your summer score, complete with notes on the scene.
Let’s Go Lensic
Santa Fe’s outpost origins meant foresight and originality were necessities. Nowhere is this more evident than the place that mixes mariachi music with 100-piece orchestras: The Lensic Center for the Performing Arts.
Built in 1930 by immigrant merchant Nathan Salmon and son-in-law E. John Greer, the Lensic quickly became a Depression-era social hub for inexpensive escape. Named through a contest requiring either a Spanish-sounding name or one incorporating the initials of Salmon’s grandchildren, the Lensic awarded Mrs. P. J. Smithwick a $25 prize for combining all six initials into a clever acronym alluding to a movie projector lens.
Recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of Save America’s Treasures, the Lensic hosts 200-plus events every year. Best-of-Broadway stars, local youth dance companies, professional ballet and flamenco troupes, and a host of comedians all wind their way into the wings.
Set Your Sights on the Sounds of the Santa Fe Opera
My two most perfect months of summer started for me with a back-when stint ushering in the old theater.
Old theater, you ask? This pioneering company began with one man’s notion of a site for singers to don new roles and enhance existing ones with ample rehearsal time in a secluded setting; the close-knit family atmosphere continues. His mission included a program to nurture young talents transitioning from academic life to professional opera. Today, founder/conductor John Crosby’s vision has become one of the world’s most unique opera venues, a place where careers begin, break-out roles are created, and premieres are the norm.
But back to the theater … Early patrons watched from open-air wooden benches on the grounds of a former guest ranch. A Time magazine article on the 1957 Madame Butterfly opening noted: “… traffic on the big four-lane Santa Fe–Taos highway was fin to fender.” Such enthusiastic support was critical 10 years later, when early morning flames engulfed the theater. Scheduled performances took place in a school gym and a national campaign to rebuild was launched. One year later a new, improved theater opened with a comeback performance of Puccini’s Butterfly.
Despite the magical outdoor setting, the new theater was still open to the elements and patrons beat a retreat during summer showers. In 1994, SFO decided the swift sell-out of rain ponchos had to end and plans were made for a full roof. The 1998 opening night unveiled the company’s third house with — you guessed it — Madame Butterfly.
Third time’s a charm and now patrons marvel at the architectural artistry as well as the artistry onstage. And there’s artistry in the time-honored tailgate tradition. White tablecloths, candles and champagne flutes delight, but a pair of chairs works perfectly with a pre-ordered Opera picnic.
For deeper understanding, I recommend the preview dinner with wine and an informative lecture over dessert. If you’re like me, indulge in an opening night dinner, an elegant experience for dressing in your evening finery.
BTW, opera attire runs the gamut from jeans to Jean Paul Gaultier, so all fashionistas are welcome to strut their stuff at any of the six new productions opening June 27 with Bizet’s Carmen. Watch the sun setting in all its glory, and no matter your fashion, food or favorite aria, I promise a night you’ll never forget!
Strike Up the Santa Fe Bandstand
My summer budget includes the aforementioned experiences, so I’m super-psyched when the goodness is gratis, thanks to the Santa Fe Bandstand. I can’t think of a better place than the leafy, historic Santa Fe Plaza to mix and mingle over music. The Bandstand brings two months of amazing almost-nightly performances, all genres and all absolutely free. Imagine that! On second thought, don’t imagine, just do it!
Local bands let loose for loyal fans and you’ll see me June 23 for opening night with the Mil-Tones Brass Band. The Mil-Tones are followed by Zydeco master Terence Simien, and the bontemps will definitely roulez. I’ve been practicing my cumbia and samba for the mix of dance-worthy Latin bands on tap, so I’ll be rhythmically ready when Son Como Con takes the stage.
The series is decked with dance delights and the crowd shifts happily to make space for newcomers. Feet will fly for the Agalu African drummers; I’ve tuned up with Saturday classes at the Railyard Performance Center. I’m still honing my swing-dance steps but I have the future in mind. And if you simply want to watch, traditional New Mexico folkloric dance comes alive with Baile Espanol as does flamenco via the Maria Benitez Youth Dance Troupe. You’ll find the likes of Joe King Carrasco, crowned a perennial favorite in these parts for righteous rockin’, occasionally pairing with up-and-coming Santa Fe Opera stars.
Rockers, blues singers, jazzmen, and bluegrass pickers, they’re all here. There’s simply something for everyone, with circus acts like Wise Fool and Clan Tynker and even some noontime concerts. No foolin’, be wise and dip into this summer treat. Grab the family and a picnic blanket, mucho fun awaits. After all, I did say almost nightly.
Get in the Santa Fe Mood for Music and More
Summer comes just once a year, and when it does, you’ll find me here. I’ll be home, home on the range in Santa Fe, taking part in all the sounds of the City Different. Let our city-full slate of live performances set the musical mood for your getaway. Santa Fe is definitely the place to find a summer seat waiting just for you!
Santa Fe Opera, how do I love thee? It’s your voices: mezzos, tenors, sopranos and basses, even a unique counter-tenor on the stage. It’s your treasure chest of marvels on a backstage tour, or a table of treats at the preview buffet. It’s your picturesque panorama of the mountains on a sublime summer night, as the sun sets slowly in the west. It’s the anticipation of your opening night at this world-class performing arts destination. Simply put, the Santa Fe Opera is a true love story.
Harvesting Opera Season Year-Round
So much transpires before the first summer performance. Production schedules are planned years in advance, with singers’ and conductors’ schedules to be accommodated, musicians and apprentices to be hired, costumes and lighting and sets to be designed. This relatively small operation connects with big talents all year long to bring the opera repertoire to life. It begins with a holiday party each December, raising expectations for summer along with fund-raising for outreach educational programs, and ends with fond farewells until next season’s curtain goes up.
The Santa Fe Opera has made magic annually since 1957. The 2013 season, an intriguing blend of premieres and familiar favorites, is no exception to the Opera’s mix-it-up ethos. The season opens June 28 with Offenbach’s Grand Duchess of Gerolstein and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on June 29. July 13 brings Rossini’s La Donna del Lago to Santa Fe for the first time, and Verdi’s La Traviata returns July 20.
The Opera’s unwavering commitment to staging a world or U.S. premiere every season yields Oscar, Theodore Morrison’s tale of the trial and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde, opening July 27. Whether it’s opening night or mid-week at season’s end, you’ll see tuxes, stilettos, and sexy slits up to the thigh a la Angelina Jolie, but jeans and cowboy boots also pass muster. Dress as you like, but dress up the night with some special experiences to make the most of your visit to the Santa Fe Opera.
Dinner Is Not an Afterthought on Opera Night
I adore opera, but I need to be fortified before settling in to my seat. Avoiding the last-minute crush for parking and will-call is also on the menu, so I opt for the delights of dining right on the premises of the Santa Fe Opera.
Years ago, the Opera recognized that lingering on the gorgeous grounds is itself a treat, and the popular preview buffets were born. The Opera’s cantina, where staff and performers dine during the summer, becomes the delicious setting for enjoying a relaxed wine dinner and informative dessert-course lecture pre-performance. Dinners are on a space-limited basis, so reserve through the box office or make buffet reservations online from the performance calendar.
If you prefer a more casual outing, order a prepared picnic dinner through the Opera’s website. Order 48 hours ahead, and dinner will await you 2 hours before the performance. There are picnic tables on the grounds, but they fill fast, so bring a folding chair to ensure you get a seat.
I have yet to see a big barbecue grill hauled off a flatbed truck, but tail-gating is not just for sporting events — it’s a long-standing tradition at the Santa Fe Opera. From two TV tables and take-out, all the way to a crisp white-clothed table with crystal and candlesticks, imagination is all it takes to create an onsite dining experience that fits your taste. If yours is a truly special occasion, there are reserved spaces available, but you need to confirm in advance with the box office.
Opera Opening Weekend in Santa Fe is a Thrill
Consider a more expansive scale and get swept up in the excitement of the entire Opening Weekend Celebration. This insider’s experience encompasses three events that will create a lasting memory of this unique cultural adventure. Friday, June 28 welcomes you to a festive dinner on the grassy Opera grounds prior to opening night. On Saturday, June 29, daytime brings an exclusive backstage tour and lunch, and evening offers dinner in a signature Santa Fe home, followed by yet another opening performance. The weekend concludes Sunday, June 30, with a convivial brunch in the company of some of the season’s Opera stars, in the artistic setting of Nedra Matteucci’s sculpture garden.
If your summer escape can’t include a whole weekend, the thrill of opening night can be enjoyed at any of five opening night dinners. Three-course fine-dining experiences in a private setting on the Opera grounds are complemented a lecture by the director or designer of the evening’s production; remember that tickets to the performance itself are by separate purchase.
Wondering If Your Kids Will Be Opera Fans?
It’s gratifying to help the little ones you love have early opera exposure to develop a lasting appreciation. You can make this happen for your young friends with backstage tours that set a lively backdrop. One-hour tours (literally behind the scenes) take place at 9 am, Monday-Friday, June 3-August 23. No reservations are needed, and tours begin at the box office, where tour tickets ($10 adults, $8 seniors, kids free) are sold. If you happen to be here on a Saturday in June, July or August (through the 24th), the Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera sponsors free Opera Insiders’ Days, beginning at 8:30 am with entertainment and refreshments, followed by the backstage backstory.
Youth Nights at the Opera are a terrific deal. These discounted dress rehearsal performances don’t require fancy clothes or break the bank if you have to take a sleepyhead home. The Santa Fe Opera exercises real forethought by providing a way to introduce the classics affordably, and, in the process, creating a future audience for this wonderful Santa Fe experience.
And the Opera is in the business of creating future stars too, presenting two Sunday night performances August 11 and 18 to showcase the up-and-coming talents of the Santa Fe Opera apprentice singers and stagecrafters. Who knows whether the little one who roams your house singing to herself might catch the opera bug?
Have You Caught the Opera Fever?
My opening night tickets are secured, my fancy finery is lined up, and I have less than a month to wait until the house lights go down and the music comes up. I have laughed out loud as a scheming servant bests his pompous master, and wept silent tears on hearing a sweet voice fade to a whisper, but year after year, I return for yet another fantastic season at the Santa Fe Opera. Two months of opera go by quickly, but your memories of a night or a week or a summer season of music in Santa Fe will truly be unforgettable.