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It’s opera time in Santa Fe

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Contestants now can sign up for the first-ever Santa Fe Opera tailgate contest to be held on June 28, the opening night of the opera’s 57th season.

Opening night has always been a great reason to celebrate, and opera fans have been creating their own elaborate tailgating set-ups for years. Because many of the patrons already celebrate, opera staff thought, “Why not honor their creativity?”

The judges will be famed mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; Andrew Cooper, executive chef at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado; and Catrina Bentley, wife of board president Carey Ramos and initiator of this contest.

Co-hosted and broadcast live from the scene by the opera’s radio partner, Classical KHFM, the contest will honor winning entrants with three prizes:

• First prize: gift certificate for Terra, the restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado; two tickets to an opera performance this summer; a 2013 season poster signed by artist Dan Namingha and cast members of “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein”; and a Jeroboam of champagne provided by Bentley.

• Second prize is two tickets to a performance this summer complete with preview buffet suppers; a 2013 season poster signed by Namingha; and a bottle of champagne.

• Third prize is two tickets to a performance this summer; a 2013 season poster signed by Namingha; and a bottle of champagne.

The parking lot will open at 4:30 p.m. The judges will visit the entrants between 5:30 and 6:30. The winners will be decided by 7:00 p.m. and announced on the air by KHFM.

Details about the contest and registration can be found at santafeopera.org. To register, contestants can send an email to tailgatecontest@santafeopera.org, which should include name, email address, phone number and approximate number of people in the tailgate group.

The opening night performance, Jacques Offenbach’s comic opera “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein” with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in the title role, begins at 8:30 p.m.

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