Photography ©Kate Russell.

The Santa Fe Opera Reopens with a World Premiere

There’s Music in the Air

by Emily Withnall

The Santa Fe Opera is delighted to announce its 2021 season, complete with on-stage performances of such favorites as The Marriage of Figaro, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Eugene Onegin. Additionally, The Lord of Cries, written by Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Corigliano with librettist Mark Adamo, receives its world premiere.

The number of different operas presented this summer will be reduced from five to four so the Santa Fe Opera can adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. A reopening budget of $2 million has facilitated new safety features, such as touchless ticketing and retrofitted restrooms. “We are optimistic about reopening and feel we can do it safely, which makes this absolutely the most exciting thing any of us will have accomplished in our professional lives,” says General Director Robert K. Meya.

State health guidelines will determine audience capacity, but Meya is hopeful that the Santa Fe Opera’s outdoor theater will accommodate at least 50 percent capacity, if not more. Plans are also in the works to make the performances accessible to operagoers who cannot safely attend in person.

The Santa Fe Opera decided to open the 2021 season on July 10 with a touch of humor by presenting a production of Mozart’s comedy classic, The Marriage of Figaro. Led by music director Harry Bicket, this rendition is set in the 1930s, with the stage functioning as a revolving clock face indicating the countdown to World War II.

Santa Fe Opera
Inside the award-winning Santa Fe Opera. Photography ©Kate Russell.

The much-anticipated new opera The Lord of Cries opens on July 17. This production is a fusion of Euripides’ The Bacchae and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, both of which communicate themes of scapegoating and the unwillingness to reckon with our own monstrosities. “Euripides admitted what Stoker repressed: The monster isn’t on the mountain or in the city, but in the mirror,” writes librettist Adamo. Dionysis, the title role in The Lord of Cries, was written for superstar countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who will make his Santa Fe Opera debut during this world premiere. “The caliber of the piece, in terms of the composition and the libretto, is artistically the most exciting thing that will happen this season,” says Meya.

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, which opens on July 24, is a reimagining of a tale of buried desires and love confessions that come too late. Etienne Dupuis stars in the title role, and his real-life wife, Nicole Car, plays Tatyana in their joint company debut. Australian conductor Nicholas Carter leads the production.

The opera season concludes with another comedy, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which opens on July 31. This new production of a favorite classic, co-produced by Benjamin Britten and Netia Jones, of Garsington Opera, has been performed in other venues but was written and designed with the Santa Fe Opera’s Crosby Theatre in mind. The orchestral music, like the play’s themes, is renowned for its dreamlike quality.

Plans are in the works for a full schedule of concerts during the month of September. “We’re very excited about that because it offers so many opportunities for members of the community and residents throughout the state,” says Meya. “Once we’ve gotten through our own season safely, we expect we’ll have a lot of good experience with safety practices and protocols.” These events are still being finalized, but the schedule will be released soon.

To view the Santa Fe Opera’s performance calendar and purchase tickets, visit


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