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Find out how an opera comes together

The women’s chorus dressing room at the Santa Fe Opera is part of the behind-the-scenes tour the public can take during the season. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE, N.M. — A behind-the-scenes look at how an opera comes together.

The Opera Storytellers Summer Camp.

Let’s not forget youth and family nights.

This is just a sampling of the community and education outreach that the Santa Fe Opera leads each season.

“This is the fifth year that we offer the summer camp,” says Andrea Fellows Walters, Santa Fe Opera director of community engagement. “Our goal is to make the opera accessible to everyone. The programming reflects what we are offering.”

The summer camps are currently underway, but there are plenty of opportunities to engage with the opera.

For instance, the Opera Makes Sense program is created for children ages 3 to 5 to explore the world of opera through music and storytelling.

There is a performance of opera music and book reading that is presented by The Young Voices of The Santa Fe Opera.

The remaining event is at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at The Governor’s Mansion, One Mansion Drive. Both events are in Santa Fe.

Fellows Walters says one program that continues to grow is the Opera Backstage Tours.

These tours are given at 9 a.m. Monday-Friday through Aug. 23.

The tour lets visitors explore many of the opera’s production and front-of-house areas.

The tours last one hour. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and free for children and young adults up to age 22. Comfortable dress and foot ware is recommended.

“This is wonderful opportunity for people who are visiting or even those that have grown up in New Mexico and never been to the opera house,” she says. “These are getting popular and it’s not uncommon to have more than 100 people in the groups. We’ve been doing this for over a decade.”

The Youth Nights at the Opera is another long-standing program at the opera.

This dates back to 1959 and has introduced more than 100,000 children and their families to the opera.

In an effort to make the opera accessible to everyone, the opera hosts Family Nights, which gives an opportunity for families to purchase tickets that would normally cost more than $100.

Fellows Walters says there is one family night performance for each of the five operas being presented.

The first is June 29 for “The Pearl Fishers.”

The following is July 6 for “La Bohème”; Aug. 2 for “Jenufa”; Aug. 13 for “Cosi fan Tutte”; and Aug. 21 for “The Thirteenth Child.”

Tickets for these shows can be purchased at 505-986-5900.

Fellows Walters says a lot of the credit for the programming goes out to the volunteers.

“We have 20 teaching artists and presenters,” she says. “And there are 800 volunteers who help make all of this happen.”

Fellows Walters says the biggest challenge is that there is competition with amazing access to art.

“For someone to commit the time and money, and get past the preconceived notion of opera,” she says. “On top of that, to leave your cozy home where you have access to movies and programming. It takes a lot. Our goal is to show that opera is for everyone and there is an opportunity to see it live.”