The passionately held belief that opera should be and could be a living, dynamic art form is what led to the founding of the Santa Fe Opera by John Crosby in 1957. That belief was reflected most profoundly in two actions that year -- creating an Apprentice Program for aspiring young American singers and producing the premiere of an opera by a living American composer in the very first season.
The artistic principles of the company are to produce a varied and distinguished operatic repertory, to offer productions of that repertory in which musical and dramatic elements are successfully integrated, and to provide exemplary working conditions for the singers, conductors, directors, and designers associated with the company.
The Summer Festival Season consists of approximately 38 performances of five different operas. In a typical season, the repertory could include recognized works from the standard repertory, 20th century works, a less-familiar opera by a major historical composer, and/or a work receiving its American or world premiere.
The Opera's audience is drawn from every state in the union and many foreign countries. About 60% of the audience comes to Santa Fe from outside New Mexico. In addition to its artistic impact, the Opera is one of the 10 largest employers in Santa Fe, and the economic impact on the community is significant.
Richard Gaddes succeeded John Crosby as the company's General Director in October, 2000. New initiatives launched in the recent seasons include:
The American premiere of Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de loin (2002 season); the commission of a new full-length opera from Bright Sheng (2003 season); several community-based Showcase Productions (The Beggar'sOpera in 2000, H.M.S. Pinafore in 2001, and The Pirates of Penzance in 2002);
a live simulcast of La Sonnambula, to Fort Marcy Park, which was free to the general public (2004 season).