Many Santa Fe residents, when polled on the street about their interest in opera, would say that they've never even visited their own city's outdoor amphitheater for a summer opera production.
The reason is simple: money. Most of the Santa Fe Opera seats range from $35 to $104 per person. Yet despite what for many residents is a daunting price, the opera's 1,889-seat amphitheater remains nearly filled during the nine-week season. It is even adding more seats as well as a permanent, open-sided roof in time for the opening of its 1998 season.
Most seats are filled by tourists. "I think our open amphitheater has withstood the test of time, but our opera audience has grown with people who travel here from great distances to attend a performance," says John Crosby, the opera's founder and general director.
In addition to expanding Santa Fe Opera's physical plant, Mr. Crosby has also guided this 40-year-old organization into artistic territory that's decidedly avant-garde. Through its association with young composers, directors, and librettists, Santa Fe Opera has in recent seasons staged several American and world premires of works such as "Modern Painters," "The Sorrows of Young Werther," "Judith," and "Blond Eckbert."
"We have an obligation to direct our audience toward works of the 20th century," says Crosby, "even if they don't respond to these works in the way we would like. But Santa Fe Opera's commitment to new works was and continues to be part of our planning."
This year's audiences have been tuned into the world premire of composer Tobias Picker's "Emmeline," a two-act opera based on the novel of the same name by Judith Rossner. Its last performance is Aug. 9.
The opera's other works this season are Puccini's "Madame Butterfly," Mozart's "Don Giovanni," Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress," and Strauss's "Daphne." Santa Fe Opera's season runs through Aug. 24.
For ticket information, contact the Santa Fe Opera box office at 800-280-4654.