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The Santa Fe Opera Sets The Stage For A Bold New Season In 2021

The Santa Fe Opera Sets The Stage For A Bold New Season In 2021

The Santa Fe Opera's General Director Robert K. Meya announced today the company's exciting return to the stage in 2021 with the repertory, principal singers, conductors, directors and designers scheduled for its 64th Season.

The announcement was streamed from The Crosby Theatre's open-air stage. Joining Meya was Production Director Chelsea Antrim Dennis. Dennis detailed how this year, instead of building sets, costumes and props for opera, she and the opera's production crew joined the Costume Shop staff in sewing face masks and 1,000 re-usable medical gowns for the healthcare workers at CHRISTUS St. Vincent and the Navajo Nation. Said Dennis, "It has been an honor to create an extra layer of protection to help keep the most essential members of our community safe, and there is no doubt that we will continue to support our community in every way we can, even as we start to shift our focus to the production designs for next season."

David Henry Jacobs and Chairman Susan G. Marineau; Artistic Director Alexander Neef; Music Director Harry Bicket; and the opera's dedicated staff for their shared optimism and steadfast determination to bring opera back to the stage and communities of northern New Mexico. He then shared his thoughts on the pandemic and the healing power of live music, stating, "The pandemic has been tragic and it's not over yet. But after everything we have lived through this past year, the arts, and in particular the experience of live music, will be more important than ever before." It is with this goal in mind that the Santa Fe Opera is tirelessly preparing for its 2021 Season.

Meya confirmed that all of the opera's plans for a safe and successful reopening are being made in close collaboration with government officials, as well as experts in epidemiology, sanitization and public health. The company has established a Reopening Advisory Group, composed of members of the Board of Directors, staff and community experts in public health. The group is charged with reviewing every step of the audience journey to ensure that protocols are based on the latest science and recommendations from public health officials. The opera plans to implement a ticketless entry system in order to minimize points of contact and to stagger the arrival time of attendees, thus minimizing wait time and limiting congregation of patrons in common areas.

Detailing the company's evolving strategy for protecting the safety of audiences and all who visit and work at the Santa Fe Opera, Meya stated, "We are making investments to bring our campus to the highest level of safety. When you arrive at the Santa Fe Opera next summer, many things will look different. You can expect acrylic shields in all public-facing locations, electrostatic disinfection of high-traffic areas, campus-wide hand sanitizing stations, enhanced ventilation and air purification in elevators and restrooms, social-distancing markers and safety signage throughout. We are also exploring the installation of no-touch facilities for all public restrooms." Perhaps the most significant safety feature is one that has defined the Santa Fe Opera experience since 1957. The outdoor, open-air nature of The Crosby Theatre allows for continuous airflow. All available research indicates that transmission of the virus is far less likely in an open-air setting.

In addition to its unique venue, the Santa Fe Opera is renowned for its intensive rehearsal period and resulting artistic excellence. Rehearsals require artists, directors and musicians to gather together, creating a high degree of human contact. In order to preserve artistic integrity while at the same time protecting its artists and staff, the company has made the decision to reduce the 2021 Season from five operas to four. This move lessens the overall rehearsal period, allows for more time between rehearsals and performances for cleaning and sanitization, and reduces the overall density of people on campus.

Additionally, the company will not be offering Preview Dinners, Backstage Tours, or any donor events on campus next season, and its Cantina will remain closed. Said Meya, "We invite patrons to enjoy a picnic in the parking lot from the comfort of their own vehicle and at a safe distance from others; and we hope that 2021 will create lasting memories for our iconic tailgaters."

Meya announced the opera's new partnership with CHRISTUS St. Vincent as part of its careful strategy development for protecting artists and staff. He underlined that the opera intends to offer on-site routine testing for artists and musicians and that all personnel coming from out-of-state will be required to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival and will undergo testing before being permitted to report to work. All employees will be assigned categories prescribing testing frequency and limits on interactions. Further, the company will be asking all patrons, prior to arrival, to conduct a "self screening" based on wellness standards established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Said Meya, "If you are feeling unwell, we ask that you stay home. Our Box Office will be ready to discuss your ticket options for returning once you're feeling better." Meya concluded, "This is an evolving strategy and we will continue to update you as we approach next summer. I extend our deepest thanks to Lillian Montoya, James Marx and the entire team at CHRISTUS St. Vincent for their invaluable assistance and expertise in developing the reopening plan for the Santa Fe Opera."

The Santa Fe Opera Box Office has been working diligently to establish ticketing policies that will evolve alongside the most current public health directives. The opera's primary goal is safety, and the company is committed to providing the best possible experience for its patrons. Current planning and projections span from 30% to 80% of theater capacity, which the opera will accommodate based on the public health orders that are in effect next July. However, the opera will remain agile in its preparations for next year; as the recommendations from health officials change, so will the company's plans. Starting on Wednesday, October 21 at 12:30 pm MT, tickets will be available for purchase by current subscribers. Additional ticket sales will occur in phases in the new year. The company will not confirm specific seat locations until late spring. At that time, priority seating locations will be given to subscribers, current donors and those who purchased their tickets early. Said Meya, "We remain nimble in our preparations as recommendations from health officials change. We will be as flexible as necessary, and we extend our most profound thanks to you for your patience as we navigate these challenges."

In addition to planning for the 2021 Season, the company has been using the present moment to take stock of opportunities and aspirations for the future. On the heels of the completion of the most recent five-year strategic plan, the opera has selected the firm LaPlaca Cohen as its strategic planning partner for a new process that commenced on October 19. Said Meya, "This month, we began a new strategic planning process guided by our desire to center values of racial equity in our work. We are considering essential questions about our position in the field, from our obligations as a local, national and international arts leader, to how we can emerge stronger, more resilient and more inclusive. I look forward to sharing updates on this important work in the new year."

The Santa Fe Opera recently presented Is This America?, a workshop showcasing three scenes from the new, one-act opera This Little Light of Mine commissioned by the company. As part of the Opera for All Voices initiative committed to social impact, the work portrays key events in the life of voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. A woman of humble origins, she spoke truth to power and her tireless efforts culminated in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Says Meya, "Our creatively presented, socially-distanced workshop of this promising new opera was received with enthusiasm and appreciation. It reflects our proud commitment to not only produce but pioneer new works devoted to themes of social justice that are relevant to our time and accessible to audiences of all ages."

On Friday, October 23 the Santa Fe Opera and Center for Contemporary Arts will present a special online screening of Is This America? in support of the national "Get Out the Vote" campaign. The screening will be followed by a talk with stage director Beth Greenberg, composer Chandler Carter and librettist Diana Solomon-Glover. The panelists will discuss the origins of This Little Light of Mine and the importance of hearing the collective voices of all U.S. citizens in the November 3, 2020 presidential election. A workshop of the full opera is scheduled to take place in June 2021 in collaboration with Kentucky Opera.

Is This America? is sponsored by Lynn J. Loacker. Commissioning and development support for Opera for All Voices is provided by the Melville Hankins Family Foundation, Principal Education Sponsor of the Santa Fe Opera; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and two OPERA America Innovation Grants, generously funded by the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation. The commission and production of This Little Light of Mine is made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant and the generous support of the Melville Hankins Family Foundation.

The Santa Fe Opera's 2021 Season, running July 10 through August 27, presents 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 Scenes performances. The 64th Season celebrates the inclusion of works new to the world stage alongside audience favorites by Mozart and Tchaikovsky, and features some of opera's most exciting talent. A variety of time periods and languages are represented, with pieces and perspectives dating from 1786 to 2021, sung in English, Italian and Russian. The future season is the second to be led by General Director Robert K. Meya, Artistic Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Harry Bicket, and perfectly fits the time-tested programming model pioneered by Santa Fe Opera founder John Crosby: a balanced and varied repertory of new, rarely performed and standard works portrayed in a new light. The Santa Fe Opera has been working to bring this incredible art form to audiences since 1957, and will continue this work to expand opera's reach to new and diverse audiences through contemporary works, world premieres and its Opera For All Voices initiative. Says Meya, "The 2021 Season will be a tribute to our unwavering optimism for the future of opera and the delight it can bring to viewers of all ages and backgrounds."

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