The summer heat down here in Albuquerque is quickly becoming unbearable. Now is the perfect time to head up north to hike, backpack, fish, raft or just kick back in the cooler temperatures in and around Santa Fe. The culturally inclined have another worthy option for escaping the Albuquerque heat: the Santa Fe Opera (SFO).
If you feel like dipping your sweaty feet into the cool, refreshing waters of world-class opera, you're in luck. The SFO puts on productions that are often as good as the best on the planet, and with picturesque, 360-degree views of the high desert, the SFO's incredible theater makes its operas that much more spectacular.
Here's the rundown on this season's fantastic five. Offenbach's La Belle Helene hits the stage on opening night, Friday, June 27. Digging into the private lives of the great Greek heroes, this French masterpiece features performances by young opera stars Susan Graham and William Burden.
The following night, Mozart's beloved Cosi fan tutte will undoubtedly be one of the season's most popular productions. The cast includes such operatic luminaries as Ana Maria Martinez, Lillian Watson, Patricia Risley, Charles Castonovo, Troy Cook, Christopher Feigum and Andrew Shore in a story about two young men eager to determine the faithfulness of their fiancées.
Strauss' comedic Intermezzo opens on Saturday, July 12. Scott Hendricks plays the role of Robert Storch, a composer with a very jealous wife (Judith Howarth) who is eager to exact revenge on her husband.
Leos Janacek's Kátya Kabanová comes to the SFO stage starting Saturday, July 19. This Czech opera tells the story of a woman who attempts to break free from her cruel husband's stifling domestic control by having an affair. Patricia Racette—a veteran of both the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera—stars in the title role.
Finally, Saturday, July 26, marks the world premiere of Madame Mao, an opera by Bright Sheng that was commissioned by the SFO. This opera recounts the tale of Jiang Ching, Mao's famous lover who, after stage-managing the Cultural Revolution, wound up in a jail cell. Sheng's music expertly mixes Asian and Western classical influences. His opera might well be the artistic highlight of the season.
Whether you're obscenely wealthy and want to dish out hundreds of dollars on the entire series, or you're a pauper who can only afford a $20 ticket for a cheap seat at a single show, you'd do well to take advantage of the new productions blossoming this summer on the SFO stage. This should be a season to remember.