The Santa Fe Opera House’s dramatic adobe theater blends harmoniously with the high-desert landscape
Published May/June 2014

Aria Under the Stars

Soak up Santa Fe with opera by night and shop-hopping by day

BYDorothy Weiner
The Santa Fe Opera House’s open-air stage is like no other. The venue’s unique curvature gives way to sweeping views of the Jemez Mountains to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. At nightfall, the panoramic scene is illuminated by orange- and indigo-washed skies of the ever-expected yet always-alluring New Mexican sunsets.
 
With a roofline soaring skyward, the remarkable opera house was built in 1998 to accommodate a growing audience for opera in this cultural outpost. The Santa Fe Opera House started in 1957 with 480 bench seats, and today’s operatic space has grown to 2,128 seats, plus 106 standees. The caliber of performances here has given rise to a devoted following that includes regulars like Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Robert Redford, Shirley MacLaine, and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. 
 
This year’s season, June 27 through Aug. 23, offers five operas staged in repertory. Prices range from $35 to $194, but everyone is treated to the same great performance, both by the artists and Mother Nature. 
 
See the City
Since performances are nighttime affairs, operagoers still have plenty of opportunity to explore the city by day. Many attractions are centrally located near the Santa Fe Plaza, a grassy public square bordered by tony shops and the historic Palace of the Governors, a museum that chronicles Santa Fe and New Mexico history. 
 
Georgia O’Keeffe created her larger-than-life florals and landscapes in this desert region, and her eponymous museum downtown houses the largest collection of O’Keeffe paintings in the world. The half-mile stretch of Canyon Road from Paseo de Peralta to Palace Avenue draws art aficionados and admirers to its 100-plus galleries and some of Santa Fe’s finest restaurants. 
 
With many boutique stores, Santa Fe is a shopper’s paradise. Peruse handmade jewelry displayed along the wall outside the Palace of the Governors, where only Native Americans are licensed to sell goods. Tesuque, just outside of town (and near the opera house), has an assortment of new and vintage wares ranging from colorful Mexican pottery to turquoise-laden silver jewelry. 
 
And should you find a token of adornment, the opera is the perfect occasion to don it; the venue welcomes attire from cowboy casual to performance formal.
DOROTHY WEINER is the editor of Town & Style Saint Louis and an internationally published food and travel writer.
For More Information
To learn about more Southwestern weekend vacations, visit AAA.com or call your local Travel professional at 1-888-870-9392.
Experience even more of the Santa Fe Opera during select-day backstage tours and ”prelude talks” before shows
Experience even more of the Santa Fe Opera during select-day backstage tours and ”prelude talks” before shows
If You Go
The Santa Fe Opera’s 2014 festival season features Carmen, Don Pasquale, Fidelio, The Impresario & Le Rossignol, and the American premiere of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Opera enthusiasts can see all five operas in five days during any of these date ranges: July 28 – Aug. 1, Aug. 4 – 8, or Aug. 11 – 15; all 8 p.m. performances. 
 
301 Opera Drive
Santa Fe, N.M. 
505-986-5900
 
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