The Santa Fe Opera announced Wednesday it has been approved to increase in-person attendance and will up the number of available seats by about 1,000 for every performance in its upcoming season.
Opera General Director Robert K. Meya said during an online news conference an on-site simulcast option also will be available for the four main-stage productions: Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (opens July 10), the world premiere of John Corigliano’s The Lord of Cries (opens July 17), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (opens July 24) and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (opens July 31).
In a move to accommodate those locked out by the seating restrictions, the opera is turning part of its lower parking lot into a drive-in theater for simulcasts of all 2021 performances (except the apprentice scenes) in August. Two large LED screens will provide views of the performances; instead of coming from large outdoor speakers, the sound will be broadcast on an FM stereo frequency for in-car listening.
For Santa Fe’s tailgating fans, it’s an opportunity to create an on-site, dinner-theater event. Simulcast tickets also go on sale June 10, with prices ranging from $100 to $125 per car, depending on proximity to the screens. The opera is planning to invite groups of New Mexico educators, youth, and community partners to view dress rehearsal simulcasts.
Meya was joined at the news conference by newly appointed Chief Artistic Officer David Lomelí, a tenor who appeared with the company as Rodolfo in its 2007 staging of Puccini’s La bohème. A native of Mexico, Lomelí offered remarks in Spanish and English.
“My friends, we are experiencing a generational shift in our industry,” he said. “The Santa Fe Opera will be a multicultural, multicolor family of artists and supporters gathering here in the Land of Enchantment to host a festival that enhances the human experience through opera, for every audience member who visits us in New Mexico or in the digital realm.”
The opera announced the first cast change due to international travel restrictions. British bass-baritone Ashley Riches will not be available to sing the title role in The Marriage of Figaro. Information on his replacement has not been announced.
“It’s possible that other artists may be affected,” Meya told The New Mexican, “but it’s too early to know with certainty. We’re taking this on a week-by-week basis and have contingency plans in place for those who haven’t yet secured visas.”
Four members of the opera’s apprentice program for singers — soprano Teresa Perrott, mezzo-soprano Adanya Dunn, tenor Duke Kim, an baritone Michael J. Hawk — will perform the four lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The opera also discussed its program of coronavirus safety measures, one that fills a 94-page handbook. Highlights include:
Companywide masking and social distancing, including all attendees.
Increased cleaning and electrostatic disinfection of high-traffic areas.
Enhanced ventilation and air purification in elevators and restrooms.
- COVID-19 testing for all staff, artists and musicians one to three times per week.
- A ticketless entry system and touch-free fixtures in restrooms.
- Cashless operations at the box office, opera shop and concession stands.
- Acrylic shields in public-facing locations and campuswide hand-sanitizing stations.
The opera also has canceled its in-person preview buffets, pre-performance talks and backstage tours for 2021. An online version of the backstage tour, Explore the Santa Fe Opera, will be available to the public at the opera’s website, starting opening night, July 10. Ticket holders will be sent a video link for an online version of the pre-show talks prior to their performance evenings.