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Posted by on Apr 25, 2013 in new articles, News | 1 comment

Santa Fe Opera Announces 2014 Season

Santa Fe Opera Announces 2014 Season

Santa Fe, NM – General Director Charles MacKay today announced the operas, casts and creative teams for the 2014 Summer Festival Season. All productions are new and three are being presented for the first time. They are Beethoven’s FidelioThe Impresario by Mozart (presented as part of a double bill with Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol), and the American premiere of Dr. Sun Yat-sen by the Chinese American composer Huang Ruo.

“It is an exhilarating and an ambitious season running the gamut from the 18th to 21st centuries, and one that I believe will have wide appeal.  We are immensely pleased to have Anna Caterina Antonacci as Carmen. One of the most sought-after artists today, Ms. Antonacci has appeared very little in this country. Her last U.S. opera appearances were in San Francisco in 1992 and 1998. There was extravagant praise for her 2006 Carmen performances at the Royal Opera House. The London Daily Mail described it as ‘voluptuous and witty, passionate and wily, this is an intelligent and charismatic portrayal.’”

It is hard to believe that Donizetti’s much-loved Don Pasquale has appeared on our stage only once, in 1983. The brilliant creative team who gave us CinderellaPlatée and La Traviata, headed by Laurent Pelly as director and costume designer with his longtime associate Chantal Thomas as scenic designer, will offer a new take on this classic. Andrew Shore returns in the title role, having been absent from our stage since Così fan tutte in 2003.

”The Company has long wanted to present Beethoven’s timeless masterpiece Fidelio, and now, being able to gather just the right cast, we can,” continued Mr. MacKay. Three great singers are returning: Leonore will be sung by Alex Penda, in her role debut.  As Alexandrina Pendatchanska she appeared in Rossini’s Ermione in 2000 and in La Clemenza di Tito in 2002. Florestan will be sung by Paul Groves and Don Pizarro by Greer Grimsley.

The first performance of Le Rossignol took place in 1914 in Paris. “Stravinsky holds a very sentimental place in the heart of The Santa Fe Opera. It was his presence here at the height of his fame that gave our fledging company its first bona fides. He spent the first six seasons conducting and sharing his enormous gifts,” observed Mr. MacKay. “Mozart’s delightful and rarely performed gem The Impresario is the perfect pairing with Le Rossignol.”

Dr. Sun Yat-sen by Huang Ruo was announced to the public last summer. Epic in its sweep, it describes the life of the man called “the father of modern China.” Another first is that the opera will be sung in Mandarin with a Chinese and American cast.

“We welcome the return of many singers who have become well-known to our audiences, and a number of important debuts. As we do each season, we have balanced what is known with what might be less familiar, giving audiences the best in the operatic canon,” Mr. MacKay concluded.


Georges Bizet

Sung in French

Last performed by The Santa Fe Opera in 2006.  New Production.

June 27; July 2, 5, 11, 18, 28; August 2, 6, 11, 16, 20, 23

CONDUCTOR Rory Macdonald
DIRECTOR Stephen Lawless
CARMEN *Anna Caterina Antonacci
DON JOSE *Roberto De Biasio
ESCAMILLO *Kostas Smoriginas
MICAELA *+Joyce El-Khoury
ZUNIGA *Evan Hughes

In perhaps a first for The Santa Fe Opera, the entire cast for this new production of Carmen is new to The Santa Fe Opera and come from all over the world, as do members of the creative team.   Conductor Rory Macdonald is Scottish, director Stephen Lawless is English, Benoit Dugardyn is Belgian and Jorge Jara is Chilean.  nna Caterina Antonacci is Italian, Roberto De Biasio is Sicilian, Kostas Smoriginas is Lithuanian, Joyce El-Khoury, a former apprentice, is Canadian; Evan Hughes and Noah Baetge are American.

Tenor Roberto De Biasio, who sings Don Jose has only been singing professionally since 2006. Before then he was a well-known concert flutist. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2010 replacing Ramon Vargas in Simon Boccanegra. Now he sings in the world’s major opera houses including the Opera Bastille in Paris, Festival Verdi in Parma, Teatro La Fenice, and Vienna Staatsoper. Escamillo, Kostas Smoriginas, appeared extensively at major European opera centers before making his American debut in 2012 with the Washington National Opera. Conductor Rory Macdonald studied music at Cambridge University and at the American Institute of Conducting in Aspen. His operatic credits are long, including his American debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2010. He subsequently appeared with the Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera.



Gaetano Donizetti

Sung in Italian

 Performed once by The Santa Fe Opera, in 1983.  New Production.

June 28; July 4, 9, 29; August 4, 9, 13, 19, 22

CONDUCTOR Corrado Rovaris
DIRECTOR Laurent Pelly
NORINA *Laura Taulescu
ERNESTO Alec Shrader


Don Pasquale, one of the great masterpieces of Italian comic opera, was an immediate hit at its Paris premiere in 1843, and has been unfailingly popular ever since. This new production is in the hands of Laurent Pelly, who has given Santa Fe audiences unexpected and highly original interpretations. Andrew Shore, in the title role, is a great singer with a comic flair, remembered for his role as Falstaff 2001 and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte in 2007. Alek Shrader was the charming but hapless Albert Herring in 2010; his love interest in Don Pasquale is the Romanian-American singer Laura Tatulescu in her Company debut. She made her American debut in Woody Allen’s Gianni Schicchi at the Los Angeles Opera, described by the Los Angeles Times as “uncommonly sexy”. Corrado Rovaris, who led the very popular Elixir of Love in 2007, returns to conduct another Donizetti gem. He is the music director of Opera Philadelphia.



Ludwig van Beethoven

Sung in German

First Performance by The Santa Fe Opera.  New Production.

July 12, 16, 25, 31; August 5, 12, 21

CONDUCTOR Harry Bicket
DIRECTOR Stephen Wadsworth
SCENIC DESIGNER *Charles Corcoran
LEONORE Alex Penda
DON PIZARRO Greer Grimsley
ROCCO *Manfred Hemm
MARZELLINE *+Devon Guthrie


Fidelio is one of the great operatic masterworks. The intensity and the endurance required of the singers make it a challenge to cast. It was Beethoven’s only opera, and a struggle for him to complete. Its themes of personal sacrifice, heroism and triumph touch the listener as much today as when it was premiered in 1805. This production will be led by Harry Bicket, who has won international praise for his work not only in the Baroque repertory, but in a wide range of music. He will conduct Carmen at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the 2013 season. His most recent appearance in Santa Fe was as conductor of Radamisto in 2008. The director is Stephen Wadsworth, who staged King Roger in the 2012 season. New to the Company are scenic designer Charles Corcoran and costume designer Camille Assaf.  Mr. Corcoran, a former technical apprentice, was head of the scene shop crew from 1994 to 1998, and assisted the scenic designer in the 2012 production of King Roger. He served as scenic designer on the Juilliard Opera production of Don Giovanni directed by Stephen Wadsworth. Ms. Assaf was a member of the international design team for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics. She has worked with director Wadsworth on several productions at Juilliard and elsewhere.

Alex Penda (Alexandrina Pendatchanska) has won international acclaim since her debut in Santa Fe in the 2000 production of Rossini’s Ermione. With an incredible range of operatic roles she has collaborated with Rene Jacobs on both the opera and concert stages. In 2006 her recording of La Clemenza di Tito won two Grammy nominations for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording. Paul Groves will be remembered for his portrayal of Gualtiero inGriselda in 2011, and in the title role of the 2011 production of The Tales of Hoffmann. Greer Grimsley is recognized as one the prominent Wagner singers of our day. He will sing Wotan in the Metropolitan Opera Ring Cycle in May and in Seattle in August. He was last in Santa Fe in the 2006 Salome as Jokanaan. Austrian bass Manfred Hemm, former apprentice Devon Guthrie and Evan Hughes are all making their Company debuts.




July 19, 23; August 1, 7, 15


Wolfgang  Amadeus Mozart

Sung in English

Translation by Ranjit Bolt

Additional arias by Mozart selected by Evan Rogister and Michael Gieleta.

First performance by The Santa Fe Opera.  New Production

The creative team and the singers are the same for both operas.

CONDUCTOR Evan Rogister
DIRECTOR *Michael Gieleta
SCENIC DESIGNER *James Macnamara
LIGHTING DESIGNER Christopher Akerlind
HERR PUFF Bruce Sledge
FRAULEIN KRONE Meredith Arwady


This one-act comic opera by Mozart was commissioned by Emperor Joseph II in 1786 for a summer festival at the Court in Vienna. The plot revolves around two prima donnas who have come to audition for the Impresario for the same role. Complications between the two ensue when the Impresario cannot make up his mind. In this production, early concert arias by Mozart will be incorporated into the original score. English dialogue has been written by Ranjit Bolt, a well-known British dramatist and translator. Director Michael Gieleta has tied the two operas together in an unusual and clever way. The setting is 1920s Paris and the characters who audition in The Impresario assume characters in Le Rossignol.



Igor Stravinsky

Sung in Russian

In honor of the opera’s premiere in Paris, 1914

Last performed by The Santa Fe Opera in 1973.  New Production.

THE COOK Brenda Rae
DEATH Meredith Arwady


Le Rossignol was performed in Santa Fe several times beginning in 1962. Igor Stravinsky himself conducted the first performances here. The opera is based on a fairy tale, The Nightingale, by Hans Christian Andersen and takes place in ancient China. The Emperor has become fascinated with the song of the nightingale who sings for him on his deathbed, saving his life and teaching him the values of truth and humility.

The director, scenic, and costume designers are all making their Santa Fe Opera debuts. Director Michael Gieleta and scenic designer James Macnamara worked together in 2012 on the highly praised production of The Magic Flute at Chicago Opera Theater. Both make their homes in England, where Mr. Gieleta is the artistic director of the Cherub Theatre Company in London. He has worked at Wexford Festival Opera, Glyndebourne and Capetown Opera. Mr. Macnamra designed the opening and closing ceremonies for the World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010 and has also worked at Wexford. Costume designer Fabio Toblini is Italian, trained in Milan, England and the U.S. He has designed costumes for several off-Broadway productions and for Caramoor, Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music. Conductor Evan Rogister led King Roger for the Company last summer and will conduct Oscar in the current season. Sanjit Bolt is an English playwright and translator.

The four singers, all American, who appear in these operas have recent associations with the Company. Erin Morley was Roxana, the wife of King Roger, in last summer’s production of the same name; Brenda Rae is making her debut this summer (2013) in La Traviata, Bruce Sledge was Maometto’s adversary in last summer’s Maometto II, and Meredith Arwady sang the title role in the 2011 production of Griselda.



Huang Ruo

Libretto by Candace Mui-ngam Chong

Sung in Mandarin

American Premiere

July 26, 30, August 8, 14

CONDUCTOR *Carolyn Kuan
DIRECTOR James Robinson
LIGHTING DESIGNER Christopher Akerlind
SUN YAT-SEN *Warren Mok
SOON CHING-LING *Corinne Winters
NI Mary Ann McCormick
MR. IMEYA *Chen-Ye Yuan


Dr. Sun Yat-sen commemorates the centennial of China’s 1911 Revolution, and was commissioned by Opera Hong Kong and given its world premiere there on October 13, 2011. Called the “Father of the Nation,” Sun Yat-sen helped overthrow the monarchy. His life, both political and personal, was a constant struggle and is the basis for the opera. The composer describes the opera’s musical style as neither strictly Western nor Chinese, but serving the text as needed. “Huang Ruo is one of the most gifted and imaginative composers writing today,” said Mr. MacKay. “Dr. Sun Yat-sen is very moving and beautiful, and fits the Company’s mission perfectly.”

The four Chinese members of the cast are all making their Company debuts. Conductor Carolyn Kuan is currently Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. The extensive list of her engagements with American orchestras and opera companies includes Baltimore, San Francisco, Detroit, New York City Ballet and New York City Opera. In addition to traditional repertory Maestra Kuan is known for her expertise in Asian music and contemporary works. She is the first female to be awarded the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship which resulted in her residency at the 2004 Salzburg Festival. Warren Mok will sing the title role as he did at the Hong Kong premiere. In his capacity as Artistic Director of Opera Hong Kong, he commissioned the opera. Mr. Mok is a highly acclaimed tenor who continues to perform the classic tenor repertory worldwide. In addition to his operatic and concert appearances, he has been touring as a member of China’s Three Tenors. John Allison, editor of the British magazine Opera, who attended the premiere said, “With his (Mr. Mok) spinto top and charismatic presence, he commanded the stage.”  In addition to his career in traditional bass operatic and concert repertory Dong-Jian Gong is a passionate advocate of new music. He has appeared in a number of new operas including Tan Dun’s Marco Polo which was performed worldwide and recorded for Sony Classics. He is a past winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Baritone Chen-Ye Yuan was a member of Houston Grand Opera Studio and San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, where he sang Germont in the company’s La Traviata. Like his colleagues listed above, he has an international career, singing important roles in the U.S., Europe, Beijing and Hong Kong. He has performed the title role in Rigoletto to great acclaim with more than a dozen opera companies. Also making her Company debut is Corrine Winters, a recent graduate of Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts. Her impressive list of debuts includes Opera Hong Kong, English National Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Rigoletto.

The director is James Robinson, the scenic designer is Allen Moyer and the costume designer is James Schuette. All three have worked with the Company previously. Messrs. Robinson and Moyer collaborated on the 2003 production ofCosì fan tutte, and its revival in 2007. Mr. Moyers’s last work in Santa Fe was the 2011 production of The Last Savage. Mr. Schuette designed the costumes for Carmen in 1999.

Family Nights.  Modestly priced tickets for mainstage productions allow families to introduce their youngsters to complete opera performances.  Dates and prices to be announced.

Apprentice Scenes.  Scenes from the operatic repertory showcasing the remarkable talent of apprentice singers and technicians have become increasingly popular.  They take place on two consecutive Sunday evenings, August 10 and 17 at 8:00 P.M.

Rush Tickets.  Available to students and senior citizens 48 hours in advance of a performance at half price.  They must be ordered by telephone or in person.  IDs are required.

2014 Tickets.  Will be available for purchase June 28, 2013 by telephone 505 986 5900, toll free 800 280 4654, and in person.  Online sales begin in September.

Support for The Santa Fe Opera comes from the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission and the 1% Lodgers’ Tax, New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural affairs, and National Endowment for the Arts: Art Works.  American Airlines is the official airline.

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1 Comment

  1. Four friends attended a performance of Bizet’s “Carmen” last evening 7/5/14 and they were sadly disappointed, while Bizet was busy turning in his grave. This is a tale of passion gone wild and the only positive statement I can make, was the use of black and white background video. The staging was sterile (if mechanically innovative,) voices seemed restrained (? acoustics).There was no utilization of the the power and storm of spanish passion, no flamenco at all, and tentative use of a single phrase for castanets. Most most of the costumes were absurd and the transference of the plot to a public cocaine sniffing operation in a local cafe, and smuggling of same thru the countryside to the US Border, all very tiresome. Also very tiring was the constant staged sexual self stimulation imposed on the ladies of the cast. Women just do not behave like this. I knew it had not “worked” when, at intermission, the patrons were very quietly talking to each other about anything but the performance at hand. The excited and appreciative laughter and chatter were missing and the rush at curtain fall for the car parks immediate, while cast members were till taking their bows. The ORCHESTRA was however SUPERB. So sorry, but thats the way it was.

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