by Peter Pabisch
Continuing the tradition of over half a century, the Santa Fe Opera (SFO) will offer five opera performances during the summer season of 2009, including one world premiere and several debuts and new productions. On Friday, July 3, the season will have its gala opening with Giuseppe Verdi’s, “La Traviata.” It will be performed eleven times throughout July and August, including the last performance which closes the season on Saturday, August 29.
Gaetano Donizetti’s, “The Elexir of Love,” and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s, “Don Giovanni,” will follow with eight performances each. Mozart is the unanimous favorite of the SFO judging by the number of times it has been performed. It is not unusual for New Mexico’s nightly storms to deliver lightning and thunder during Giovanni’s condemnation scene as if they, too, were judging him for his some two thousand seductions. The opera house, which is half open to the skies, often guarantees hair- raising effects.
With Christoph Willibald Gluck’s, “Alceste,” the SFO continues its renowned tradition of baroque and eighteenth century works. Gluck belongs to Vienna as a great music metropolis. As the former music teacher of Marie-Antoinette, he followed her to Paris for her coronation as Queen of France in 1773 and stayed there for six years, before returning to Vienna.
The world premiere of “The Letter” by contemporary composer Paul Moravec and librettist Terry Teachout represents the rather experimental approach to opera culture. Santa Fe has always supported such efforts from its inception beginning with a performance by Igor Stravinsky. “The Letter” follows the ‘noir’ style of murder stories and promises corresponding excitement.
“Apprentice Scenes” on Sunday, August 16 and 23, projects the view of the future for young singers and musicians. One should not miss this outstanding cultural event.