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Santa Fe Opera announces five new productions for 2016 – but no premieres

The Santa Fe Opera. (Courtesy of the opera)

The Santa Fe Opera. (Courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera)

SANTA FE – In 2016, the year of its 60th anniversary, the Santa Fe Opera will stage five new productions, including two operas that had not been performed here before – but no national or international premieres.

In announcing next year’s season on Tuesday, General Director Charles MacKay said the organization had been hoping for a premiere, but “new works develop to their own timetable.” He declined to name the work that didn’t make the list but said it is likely to appear in another season down the road.

He pointed out that, in 59 seasons, including the one beginning in July, the Santa Fe Opera has presented 14 world premieres and 44 U.S. premieres, which “puts us pretty much in the vanguard of opera companies and shows our dedication to new works.”

What audiences will have a chance to see in 2016 are:

  • “La Fanciulla del West” by Puccini, last performed by the Santa Fe Opera in 1995. Soprano Patricia Racette (“The Letter,” 2009) will play Minnie and tenor Gwyn Hughes-Jones (“La Bohème,” 2007) is the bandit Dick Johnson in this co-production with the English National Opera.

This production received great acclaim when it was performed last fall in London and won the Olivier Award for achievement in opera, MacKay said.

  • “Don Giovanni” by Mozart, last performed in 2009, with baritone Daniel Okulitch (“The Marriage of Figaro,” 2013) playing the title role and sopranos Leah Crocetto, Isabel Leonard and Rhian Lois taking the roles of his conquests.
  • “Roméo et Juliette” by Gounod, never performed before at the Santa Fe Opera, with soprano Ailyn Pérez (“Faust,” 2011) and tenor Stephen Costello (this is his Santa Fe Opera debut) playing the star-crossed lovers.
  • “Capriccio” by Strauss, last performed here in 1993, with soprano Amanda Majeski (“Griselda,” 2011) taking the role of the Countess, and tenor Ben Bliss (debut) and baritone Joshua Hopkins (“La Finta Giardiniera,” 2015) portraying her suitors. Local favorite Susan Graham sings the role of Clairon.

This offering continues the tradition of a Strauss opera in honor of Santa Fe Opera founder John Crosby, who favored that composer, MacKay noted.

  • “Vanessa” by Barber, a company premiere, with soprano Erin Wall (“Arabella,” 2012) taking the title role. “This is a truly great American opera,” which won the Pulitzer Prize when it was first performed in 1958, MacKay said.

Next year’s community opera, which will premiere at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in April, will be “Shakespeare 400,” composed by Joe Illick, artistic director for Performance Santa Fe, with librettist Andrea Fellows Walters. This opera will tour the state next spring.

In other matters announced Tuesday:

  • The “Setting the Stage” campaign for expansion and repairs at the opera has reached $31 million of its $35 million goal. But board President Susan Marineau added that, because surprises always crop up in construction, the board is hoping to exceed that original goal.

Workers are completing the first phase of the construction, which began in September and includes an expanded gift shop and box office; additional space in the wings of the stage; expanded dressing rooms; expanded costume shop and makeup areas; bigger orchestra lounge; and exhaust systems to help reduce fumes in areas that use paint and other materials.

Oh, and almost a 100 percent increase in bathrooms – an audience favorite, Marineau noted.

  • Opera Storytellers, a summer camp for children in grades 3 to 8, will be offered Monday through Friday, June 1-12, at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Offered for the first time, this program will guide children in creating their own opera. Cost is $395, with lunch offered for another $60. To register, contact Brandon Neal at
  • The opera will mark its 60th anniversary with a “Come Home to Santa Fe Opera” event on Aug. 20-21, 2016, inviting everyone who has ever worked either onstage or behind the scenes to return for dinners, performances and other activities.