Santa Fe Opera Reports History-Making Reopening Season

Sunset on closing night of the 2021 Season at the Santa Fe Opera. Photo by Dune Alford

SFO News:

SANTA FE — The Santa Fe Opera (SFO) reports on the state of the opera following its 2021 Reopening Season and 2021 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

Among the first opera companies in the world to return to performances in its own venue in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company presented 30 mainstage performances, held hundreds of rehearsals and employed more than 500 members of staff without a single postponement or cancellation in its 64th Festival Season.

“From the first downbeat on opening night to the final notes upon closing, Santa Fe Opera audiences and artists alike were overjoyed to experience live music,” SFO General Director Robert K. Meya said. “Never before in our company’s history have the arts, and music in particular, been more meaningful.”

All festival activities were protected by an extensive testing program and company-wide abidance of vigilant safety protocols developed by the opera and its reopening partners, AXCES Research & Health, CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and Production Safe Zone in collaboration with the American Guild of Musical Artists, the American Federation of Musicians and public health officials.  


The company is pleased to have achieved strong ticket sales of $5.5 million with an average nightly attendance of over 1,300 patrons. Taking into account the opera’s commitment to maintain a level of socially-distanced seating between all groups, these figures correspond to a nearly sold-out house each performance evening with almost 50 percent of attendees hailing from New Mexico. The opera was additionally pleased to reinstate its discounted ticket programs for seniors, students, active military and first-time buyers from New Mexico, and to provide special offers to local healthcare workers and non-profit employees.

With deepest gratitude to its generous donors, the opera reports $11.8 million in annual operating support for the 2021 fiscal year. This figure marks the highest amount of annual contributions in the company’s history and demonstrates the desire of many people to return to live, in-person performances and the deep appreciation felt for one of New Mexico’s arts leaders. 

The company plans to announce the 2022 Season in November and extends its lasting gratitude to the artists, staff, Board members, donors, patrons and elected officials for their role in supporting America’s premiere opera festival. It is thanks to the hard work, determination and generosity of many that the company is in a strong position for 2022 and beyond.


Looking to the future, the opera will continue its commitment to the health and safety of its community and all who visit the Santa Fe Opera. As plans progress for the 2022 Season and events are added to the calendar, updates will be made to its dedicated Health and Safety webpage.

The company is pleased to announce that its COVID-compliance and Safety Manager, Mike VanAartsen, has transitioned into a full-time, year-round position in the newly created role of Director of Safety, Wellness and Occupational Health. VanAartsen was essential in safely guiding the opera through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. His work highlights the fundamental importance of mental health and the overall wellbeing of the opera’s staff and artists. VanAartsen will develop and implement numerous programs to ensure the safest workplace possible at the Santa Fe Opera.


Presented in the 64th Festival Season were 30 performances of four operas, including the world premiere of The Lord of Cries by John Corigliano and Mark Adamo directed by James Darrah; the company premiere of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed and designed by Netia Jones; Laurent Pelly’s stylish new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro; a new production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin directed by Alessandro Talevi; a celebratory concert featuring soprano Angel Blue in her company debut with 2021 Season artists and The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra led by John Fiore; and two Apprentice Showcase Scenes. 

In addition to in-theater performances, the opera was proud to present nightly Simulcasts to its scenic lower parking lot, six free Opera in the Park screenings on Santa Fe’s Southside and Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza and its first ever broadcasts on 95.5 KHFM Classical Public Radio. The opera also offered robust digital programming including free Virtual Prelude Talks, a Virtual Backstage Tour Experience, “Explore the Santa Fe Opera,” its two podcasts, Key Change and Destination Santa Fe Opera and the six-part series From Page to Stage co-produced with New Mexico PBS. Through these free offerings the company reached an estimated 150,000 households across New Mexico and on all seven continents and deepened its ability and commitment to reach new and diverse audiences.

For its activities, the company received local, regional, national and international press including an exclusive reopening story with the Associated Press and coverage in The New Yorker, Opera NewsThe Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Spain’s Ópera Actual Magazine, London’s Opera Magazine and numerous others. Two of the opera’s new, critically acclaimed productions will be seen in future seasons across the globe, including its co-production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Garsington Festivalin England.


The Santa Fe Opera is delighted to return to its annual tradition of announcing the recipients of its Outstanding Apprentice Awards. Each season, talented young singers and technicians take part in the Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Programs, where they receive intensive training and play critical roles in the creation, both on stage and off, of the season’s mainstage productions. Their work culminates in two nights of fully staged and costumed Apprentice Showcase Scenes, created and performed solely by the apprentices. Of this season’s 70 apprentice technicians and 40 apprentice singers, 24 won cash rewards, honoring their exceptional talent and hard work. This season’s Apprentice Programs were funded in part by the opera’s annual fund, income from endowment funds and proceeds from the Summer Gala.

Technician Awards:

  • Gustave and Jane Baumann Memorial Award: Madison Morrissey, Stage Crew Apprentice; Cameron Webb, Properties Carpentry Apprentice
  • Katharine M. Mayer Memorial Award: Danielle Brewbaker, Production Service Crew Apprentice; April Salazar, Electrics Apprentice; Abra Clawson, Audio and Video Apprentice
  • Greg Teakle Memorial Award: Jaclyn Kanter, Properties Running Crew Apprentice; Mason Alexander Staley, Costume Apprentice
  • Lawrence Reehling Memorial Award: Alexa Marron, Costume Apprentice; Collin Gallaher, Wig and Makeup Apprentice; Natasha Lowy, Scenic Art Apprentice
  • Craig J. Miller Technical Apprentice Award: Duncan Davies, Electrics Apprentice 
  • Randall R. Lutz Technical Apprentice Award: Madeline Goddard, Properties Crafts Apprentice 
  • Caroline Chao Award: Alyssa Embry, Properties Carpentry Journeyperson

Singer Awards:

  • Donald Gramm Memorial Award: Darren LeKeith Drone, baritone; Luke Sutliff, baritone
  • Lillian Caroff Mayer Award: Kathryn Henry, soprano
  • Campbell/Wachter Scholarship Award: Johan Hoskins, tenor; Sarah Saturnino, mezzo-soprano
  • Katharine Mayer Award: Teresa Perotta, soprano
  • National Federation of Music Clubs Award: Ardeen Pierre, soprano
  • Richard Tucker Fund Award: Robert Stahley, tenor
  • A Grant Award: Thomas Cilluffo, tenor; Jonas Jud, bass; Megan Moore, mezzo-soprano


The Santa Fe Opera was extremely fortunate to receive both Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Shuttered Venue Operator’s Grant (SVOG) financial relief packages shepherded by New Mexico Senators Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez, United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and numerous other elected officials.


The Santa Fe Opera annually draws 85,000 people from New Mexico and around the globe. Nestled atop a mountain vista in northern New Mexico, the company’s iconic Crosby Theatre is open on three sides, allowing visitors to enjoy performances complemented by the elements. Since 1957 the company has presented over 2,000 performances of 177 operas by 90 composers spanning five centuries of opera, creating a legacy of 45 American premieres and 17 world premieres.

LOS ALAMOS website support locally by OviNuppi Systems