Five dinners. Five operas. So many possible pairings. Pasatiempo plucks imaginative food options — all based on elements in the works — from the stories of Santa Fe Opera’s 2019 season.


La bohème

Composer Giacomo Puccini, librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa

In the Latin Quarter of 19th-century Paris, six bohemians struggle with the realities of the age — while enjoying themselves at neighborhood boîtes like Café Momus.

8:30 p.m. July 12, 19; 8 p.m. July 29, Aug. 3, 7, 12, 17, 20, 24

Located on the bustling corner of West Alameda and Galisteo streets, L’Olivier (229 Galisteo St., 505-989-1919, offers a window into the romance, if not the tragedy, of Bohème. Chef Xavier Grenet’s menu includes many of the classic French dishes you’d hope to see — escargot ($15.50) and steak frîtes ($20), for example — as well as some original stalwarts like the arugula fig salad ($14.50) and rosemary-braised beef short ribs ($30). Also featured are some creative nods to the Southwest, such as the bar menu’s duck confit taco with mango pico de gallo ($10). Staff members — including Xavier’s gracious wife, Nathalie — are polite, professional, and attentive. On some Saturdays, you can whet your operatic appetite with some live music on the idyllic patio, beginning at 5 p.m.


The Pearl Fishers (Les pêcheurs de perles)

Composer Georges Bizet, librettists Michel Carré and Eugène Cormon

On the tropical shores of Ceylon, this bromance celebrates the power of friendship between Zurga and his comrade Nadir.

8 p.m. July 30, Aug. 8, 16, 23

You’re unlikely to come across any pearls, but you can definitely enjoy some of the freshest oysters in town ($2 each, $1 on Fridays and Saturdays) at the Piñon Pub at Whole Foods (753 Cerrillos Road, 505-992-1700,, a cheerful oasis securely nestled in a corner. There’s seating at the bar, at a handful of long wooden tables, and at a trim countertop along the wall of windows. The Piñon Pub offers a brief but pleasant list of wines and one of the best selections of draft beers in town, with two dozen taps paying homage to local brews as well as some selections from more far-flung locales.


Così fan tutte

Composer Wolfgang Amadè Mozart, librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte

Are all women unfaithful? Two ladies are put to the test when their fiancés disguise themselves as Albanian soldiers and try to woo them into infidelity.

8:30 p.m. July 13, 17, 26; 8 p.m. Aug. 1, 5, 13, 22

“What a wretched life a lady’s maid leads,” the rebellious Despina sings. “I’ve been beating this for half an hour, and now the chocolate’s ready … Damnit, I’m going to try it.” Santa Fe is rich in artisanal chocolate shops, two of which produce drinking chocolate that recreate the spirit of Despina’s brew. If you’d like to explore hot chocolate as it was served in this region between the late-16th and early-19th centuries — Santa Fe Opera’s new production of Così references a more southwestern than European setting — try the Colonial New Mexico Drinking Chocolate ($16 for 6 ounces) at Art of Chocolate/Cacao Santa Fe (3201 Richards Lane, Suite B, 505-471-0891, Produced in-house by chocolate historian Mark Sciscenti, who researched and developed the recipes for many of the drinks served at Kakawa Chocolate House, a cup of the elixir is $4 for 4 ounces and $6 for 6 ounces. Whichever way you go, be sure to whisk that chocolate — with water rather than milk to be historically correct — as briskly as Despina.



Composer and librettist Leoš Janáček

In this tale based on Moravian peasant life, Jenůfa stepmother tells her and fiancé Števa that they may not marry until he has stayed sober for an entire year. This sets in motion a tale of familial bonds, unspeakable crimes, and forgiveness.

8:30 p.m. July 20, 24; 8 p.m. Aug. 2, 6, 15

Depending on your frame of mind, this opera may inspire you to drown your sorrows or revel in joy. Whatever your mood, a few Santa Fe establishments offer impressive wine lists to fit the bill. The sturdy leather-bound wine book at Rio Chama (414 Old Santa Fe Trail, 505-955-0765, immediately brings to mind the word tome, and that’s fitting, since the list is remarkably extensive, and prices range from two to four digits. TerraCotta Wine Bistro (304 Johnson St., 505-989-1166, garnered a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2018. Vino is offered by the glass, half bottle, and full bottle, and most choices are helpfully grouped according to price range.


The Thirteenth Child

Composer Poul Ruders, librettists Becky and David Starobin

In this Brothers Grimm-inspired fantasy thriller, a king banishes his 12 sons from his realm, spurring his beloved daughter to go on a quest to find them.

8:30 p.m. July 27; 8 p.m. July 31, Aug. 9, 14, 21

For this motif, Santa Fe’s time-honored opera tailgating is just right — pack everything you’ll need for your trip in a basket. Cheesemongers of Santa Fe (130 E. Marcy St., 505-795-7878, is a reliable source for collections of cheeses, meats, nuts, olives, mustards, jams, crackers, and the like, with picnic- and opera-specific plates for pickup ($35-$65). In addition to plentiful provisions for a traditional tailgate, Kaune’s Neighborhood Market (511 Old Santa Fe Trail, 505-982-2629, offers six summertime picnic meals to go ($10.99-$17.99); with the added attraction of impressive wine aisles, this could be your one-stop tailgating shop. Whether you sit on the edge of your trunk or at an actual cloth-covered table with a candelabra centerpiece, whatever you’ve packed will inevitably play second fiddle to the Sangre de Cristos. ◀

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