After adapting to months of only virtual performances amid the pandemic, local opera aficionados finally have some good news: The Santa Fe Opera on Wednesday announced its 2021 season.
Due to concerns over COVID-19 and fiscal forecasts, the lineup is leaner than usual, with 27 performances of four productions, rather than 37 performances of five operas. The company also has delayed its opening date, dodging the Fourth of July weekend.
The company’s popular preview buffets, pre-performance talks and backstage tours likely won’t be offered in 2021.
The season features a major world premiere by composer John Corigliano and librettist Mark Adamo. New productions of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are also part of the 2021 repertory, as is a concert evening featuring soprano Angel Blue.
“Everyone was telling me to begin the season with a comedy, given the pandemic circumstances,” General Director Robert Meya said, “and The Marriage of Figaro holds a special place in the company’s history, having been performed more often than any other opera.”
It opens July 10 in a production directed by Laurent Pelly and conducted by SFO Music Director Harry Bicket.
Pelly’s scenic design concept takes its cue from the action — during “one crazy day” — with the stage sporting a revolving clock face driven by visible gears. The revolutionary changes that were about to sweep Europe when the opera premiered in 1786 are referenced by Pelly’s updated setting, based on Jean Renoir’s 1939 film, The Rules of the Game, which explored the deteriorating relationships between the upper class and their servants on the eve of World War II.
The Lord of Cries, Santa Fe’s 17th world premiere, joins the repertory July 17. It’s a contemporary take on Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel Dracula and Euripides’ Greek tragedy The Bacchae. Fast-rising American director James Darrah stages the production, which features superstar countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo in the title role.
The 82-year-old Corigliano is one of America’s most honored composers, the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, five Grammy Awards and an Oscar, the latter for his film score for the Red Violin. Mark Adamo is best known as the composer-librettist for such operas as Little Women, Lysistrata and Becoming Santa Claus. He and Corigliano are longtime life partners; The Lord of Cries is their first major collaborative work.
When a Russian contralto suggested to Tchaikovsky that he make an opera out of Pushkin’s celebrated verse novel, Eugene Onegin, he thought the idea was “lunacy.” During a sleepless night immediately afterward, he created the scenario for “lyric scenes” drawn from the novel.
The new production conducted by Nicholas Carter and directed by Alessandro Talevi opens here July 24. The husband-and-wife team of Ètienne Dupuis and Nicole Car make their company debuts as Onegin and Tatyana, the couple fated to love each other but never at the same time.
German-Turkmen tenor Dovlet Nurgeldiyev makes his U.S. debut as Lensky; American contralto Avery Amereau is Olga.
The Santa Fe Opera has avoided Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for more than 60 years. It’s finally taking the plunge in 2021, with a production by one of England’s most versatile young theater artists, Netia Jones, who functions as stage director and the scenic, costume and projections designer. Her design concept emphasizes the astronomic imagery that recurs throughout Shakespeare’s text.
Soprano Erin Morley tackles the high-flying coloratura of Tytania, partnered by Iestyn Davies, the season’s second big-name countertenor, as Oberon. The quartet of young lovers (Helena, Hermia, Demetrius, and Lysander) will be cast from the company’s apprentice singers.
Soprano Angel Blue, who starred as Bess in the Metropolitan Opera’s recent Porgy and Bess, will appear in concert with the opera orchestra and soloists from the 2021 season, conducted by John Fiore, Aug. 7. Fully staged opera scenes sung by the company’s vocal apprentices and designed by production apprentices are scheduled Aug. 15 and 22.
Planned audience safety procedures for the season include implementing a new ticketless entry system to minimize points of contact, staggering the arrival time of attendees, installing acrylic shields in public-facing locations, the electrostatic disinfection of high-traffic areas, offering campuswide hand-sanitizing stations and enhancing the ventilation of enclosed spaces.
Tickets are now on sale to subscribers. Sales to others will be phased in during early 2021, with seating locations announced in late spring.
For more information, call 505-986-5900 or visit santafeopera.org.