If your New Year’s resolutions include attending more live performances by our major music and theater groups in 2023 (and we hope it does), this is the story for you. It covers highlights of 15 local organizations, including the summer chamber music, opera, and choral music festivals. We know that travel may also be on your list for 2023, so our planning guide includes Beyond Our Borders, a look at compelling events in some of the 49 states not fortunate enough to be New Mexico.
SITE Santa Fe, 1606 Paseo de Peralta, chatterabq.org
This Albuquerque-based chamber music group operates on a counter-intuitive basis: no subscriptions, no box office phone, and no season brochure. (There’s no season, they just perform 50 weeks a year.) Chatter’s hour-long programs at SITE Santa Fe are announced six to eight weeks in advance; they include a spoken-word segment, two minutes of contemplative silence, and a wide-ranging repertory with an emphasis on contemporary works.
The Jan. 14 concert includes Beethoven’s six-part song cycle, On the Distant Beloved (An die Ferne Geliebte), and Antonín Dvorˇák’s Four Romantic Pieces for violin and piano. The Jan. 28 program features contemporary music for a unique trio of instruments — horn, tuba, and piano — including the world premiere of “Topless” for tuba and piano by Alvin Singleton, a composer whose influences range from from Bach and Bernstein to James Baldwin and Prince, and who often incorporates theatrical elements into his work.
General admission tickets are $16 in advance, with discounts available, $18 at the door.
LENSIC PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
211 W. San Francisco St., 505-988-1234, lensic.org
Jazz at Lincoln Center is the country’s largest jazz presenter and its Songs We Love tour plays the Lensic on Feb. 2. This journey through the music of jazz greats including Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra features vocalists Brianna Thomas, Shenel Johns, and Vuyo Sotashe, with a band led by Riley Mulherkar. Tickets are $35-$62.
Three generations of Crescent City talent take the stage on March 9 in Take Me to the River: NOLA Live! George Porter Jr. (bassist and co-founder with Art Neville of The Meters in 1965) is there with his Runnin’ Pardners, Jon Cleary, a Brit turned roots music specialist performs with his Absolute Monster Gentlemen, and Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr., who succeeded his legendary father as head of the city’s Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians, round out the roster. Tickets are $45-$69.
Performances from England’s National Theatre and other major British companies are screened via the NT Live in HD Series; upcoming broadcasts include Much Ado About Nothing (Feb. 28) and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (March 28), the latter starring Erin Doherty, who played Princess Anne on seasons three and four of The Crown. NT Live in HD tickets are $22, with discounts available.
LOS ALAMOS CONCERT ASSOCIATION
Duane W. Smith Auditorium, Los Alamos High School, 1300 Diamond Dr., 505-662-9000, losalamosconcert.org
Emanuel Ax is one of two legendary pianists giving solo recitals in the area this winter (Richard Goode is the other, performing at the Lensic on Feb. 21). Ax’s Jan. 22 program includes two big, contrasting sonatas by Franz Schubert, four Schubert songs in arrangements by Franz Liszt, and two short pieces by Lizst.
The Spanish Brass promise to generate some mid-winter heat on Feb. 24, while Les Violons du Roy, a chamber orchestra from Quebec, wrap up the Los Alamos season on April 28. The latter concert includes a unique concerto for trumpet, piano, and orchestra by Dmitri Shostakovich, along with works by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and C.P.E. Bach.
Tickets are $35 for adults and free for those ages 6 to 18.
METROPOLITAN OPERA: LIVE IN HD
Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St., 505-988-1234, lensic.org
The series that launched the performing arts digital content revolution in 2006 has been presented locally by the Lensic and the Santa Fe Opera since its inception. Its most compelling offering in the new year is Champion (April 29 and May 1), an exploration of boxing champion Emile Griffith’s troubled life by jazz composer Terence Blanchard. (Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones was the first opera by a Black composer to be performed at the Met, opening its 2021-2022 season.)
Fedora, Umberto Gioradano’s rarely performed verismo opera, is slated for Jan. 14, while a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni by red-hot stage director Ivo van Hove bows on May 20. Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier (April 15) is a Met staple, but it includes the starry trio of soprano Lise Davidsen as the Marschallin, soprano Erin Morley as Sophie, and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as Octavian, making it well worth the ticket price.
Tickets are $22-$28.
NEW MEXICO ACTORS LAB
1213 Parkway Dr., 505-395-6576, nmactorslab.com
Actors Lab does a split season every year with two productions in the spring and three in the fall. First up in 2023, however, is a four-performance benefit, with actors Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross in a staged reading of Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve. The Feb. 9-11 performances are $35 or $60 for a couple; Feb. 12 includes “A Garden of Eden Party and Dessert with the Stars,” at $150 or $275 for a couple.
Sam Shepard’s Simpatico runs May 3-21. It’s a look at the shady world of thoroughbred racing, in a style that combines penetrating comedy with a noir-esque sensibility. The New York Times called it, “Mr. Shepard writing at his distinctive, savage best.”
Morning Sun by British playwright Simon Stephens chronicles 50 years in the life of Charley McBride, who has lived in the same New York apartment for most of her life, bracketed by her mother and her daughter. Artistic Director Robert Benedetti directs this saga of a woman whose life has never made headlines but is nevertheless full of drama. It runs June 7-25.
Tickets for Simpatico and Morning Sun are $15-$35.
NEW MEXICO PERFORMING ARTS SOCIETY
Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, 50 Mt. Carmel Rd., 505-474-4513, nmpas.org
An annual Bach concert has long been part of the NMPAS DNA, and this year’s concert, on March 3, adds a new twist to the chromosomes. Bach’s Cantata BWV 8, “Liebster Gott wenn werd ich sterben?” (“Beloved God, when will I die?”), will be coupled with the world premiere of Aaron Alter’s Earth Cantata. Alter is a California-based composer who has an MFA in composition from Princeton University, but his style is also influenced by the popular music and jazz he heard growing up in Chicago. Earth Cantata was written in an updated version of Bach’s style and will be performed by eight-member vocal ensemble and a 13-player chamber orchestra.
The group’s March 25 chamber music concert includes works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and tango master Astor Piazzola’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, will be played by Steinway Artist Jacquelyn Helin on May 6, with a program of opera, operetta, and zarzuela highlights closing the season on June 9.
Tickets are $40-$60, with discounts available; some concerts also offer livestreaming for $25.
National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St. SW, Albuquerque, 505-724-4771, operasouthwest.org
Opera Southwest has made a significant contribution to the area’s musical vitality in recent years, thanks to a repertory that has included many seldom-produced works, as well as a series of operas by contemporary Hispanic composers. The gem of its current season is Rossini’s Count Ory, a sophisticated French-language comedy from late in his composing career.
In it, the title character’s almost irresistible charm runs into the impregnable fortress of Countess Adele’s chastity, and she outsmarts him with a stratagem that leaves Ory wooing another of Adele’s suitors in the dark by mistake. Count Ory performances are on Feb. 5, 10, and 12.
Opera Southwest’s season ends with Puccini’s Turandot, conducted by Artistic Director Anthony Barrese and staged by a production team of director Xinxin Tang, scenic designer Jing Wang, and costume designer Yuankun Xia. Performances are March 12, 15, 17, and 19.
Tickets are are $22-$105, with discounts available.
PERFORMANCE SANTA FE
Multiple venues, 505-984-8759, performancesantafe.org
Performance Santa Fe offers dance, music of many types, and theater among its winter and spring offerings. On Feb. 7, the Mark Morris Dance Group performs Pepperland, which was created in 2017 as a 50th-anniversary tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The music includes six of The Beatles’ original tunes and four dance group originals, performed by a live ensemble. Tickets are $40-$105.
Celebrated pianist Richard Goode, whose playing was described by The Los Angeles Times as, “a joy in the ear, a nourishment for the mind and an uplift for the spirit,” offers an all-Beethoven recital on Feb. 21. The program includes a selection of the Bagatelles, Op. 119, the Sonata No. 30 in E Major, and the Diabelli Variations, which rival Bach’s Goldberg Variations in their majesty. Tickets are $35-$115.
One of PSF’s valuable contributions to our cultural life is performances from non-Western cultural traditions, such as the April 2 appearance of the Ragamala Dance Company, celebrated practitioners of Bharatanatyam, a South Indian dance form. Their Sacred Earth is an original work exploring the connections between human emotions and the environment that shapes them. The New York Times says the company imparts “some of the most transcendent experiences that dance has to offer.” Tickets are $35-$115.
SANTA FE CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL
Multiple venues, 505-982-1890, santafechambermusic.com
It’s “The Big 5-0” for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival this year, and its 2023 season includes several commissioned world premieres and a gala concert with vocalists Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson to mark the celebration.
Another anniversary commission — Olivier Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars, for the American bicentennial — will also be one of the season’s highlights. It’s a 36-player work in 12 movements and was inspired by Messiaen’s visit to Utah’s Bryce Canyon; the performance here is on Aug. 13. Two world premieres — a commissioned piece by Magnus Lindberg for winds and piano and an oboe quartet by Artistic Director Marc Neikrug — will be heard on Aug. 9.
The festival’s justly popular Music at Noon series on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays includes several compelling offerings, such as György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments — 40 short texts taken from the writer’s diaries, letters, and notebooks that are set for soprano and violin — on Aug. 9 and Haochen Zhang’s performance of Beethoven’s immensely difficult “Hammerklavier” Piano Sonata in B-flat Major on Aug. 15. The festival’s 2023 season runs from July 16 to Aug. 21, with a total of 39 performances.
Subscriptions are currently on sale; single tickets will go on sale in February.
SANTA FE DESERT CHORALE
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, 505-988–2282, desertchorale.org
The chorale’s summer festival runs from July 16 to Aug. 5, with three nicely varied programs on the menu. The artistic heritage of two European dynasties — the Tudors and the Medicis — is the season opener. It features music by Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Antonio Vivaldi, and King Henry VIII, along with a look at the political intrigues fomenting simultaneously behind the scenes in London and Florence.
The American Immigrant Experience chronicles the contributions made to our musical heritage by successive generations of those born elsewhere, along with a new work composed for the chorale by Kile Smith. Two longer works for strings and voices — Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Tarik O’Regan’s The Ecstasies Above, a setting of an Edgar Allen Poe poem — are featured on the third program, The Ecstasies Above.
Tickets are $20-$100, with discounts available.
SANTA FE OPERA
The Santa Fe Opera, 301 Opera Dr., 505-986-5900, santafeopera.org
Santa Fe Opera ticket holders will be taking a deep dive into the Romantic era this summer, with four of the five productions offered dating from 1843 to 1902. The season’s variety comes from the subject matter (although they are all tragedies), the five composers’ distinctive styles, and the different staging concepts by their production teams.
Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, in designs inspired by surrealist visual artist Giorgio di Chirico and filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, opens the season on June 30. It’s followed by two works that haven’t been seen here in several decades, Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (July 1) and Claude Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande (July 15). The former features Nicholas Brownlee, the stentorian Kurwenal in 2022’s Tristan und Isolde, in the title role; the latter is led by Harry Bicket and Netia Jones, the conductor and director-designer for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the company’s best offering in 2021.
Two operas new to Santa Fe — Antonín Dvorˇák’s lovely fairy tale Rusalka (July 22) and Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo (July 29), one of the first operas ever written, complete the season. Unlike later composers, Monteverdi didn’t write out individual parts for the instruments in his orchestra, so his operas always have an orchestration by someone else, in this case a new version commissioned by the opera from composer Nico Muhly. The 2023 season runs from June 30 to Aug. 26.
Subscriptions and single tickets are currently on sale; single tickets are $37-$341.
SANTA FE PLAYHOUSE
142 East De Vargas St., 505-988-4262, santafeplayhouse.org
An all-ages show, Hubba Hubba is a comedic look at romantic love, performed by two Maryland-based puppeteers using handmade objects, puppets, trick costumes, music, and masks to explore emotion’s many facets. It’s part of the playhouse’s Skeletal Series of touring productions that require only simple design elements in performance. Performances are April 6-15.
Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, Lynn Nottage’s Sweat explores the tensions that develop during a labor battle involving factory workers in Reading, Pennsylvania, who find themselves on opposite sides of the issues. Nottage spent two and a half years interviewing blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt city, most of whom had lost their jobs during factory closures. The Wall Street Journal called Sweat “The play that explains Trump’s win.” It runs from May 11 to June 10.
Nine- and six-ticket “flexpasses” for the 2023 season are currently available for $382.50 and $255, respectively; single tickets go on sale in mid-January.
SANTA FE PRO MUSICA
Multiple venues, 505-988-4640, sfpromusica.org
Three of Pro Musica’s orchestra concerts this season take place in 2023, with new music figuring prominently in the first two. Sarah Ioannides conducts a Jan. 28 and 29 program that includes a co-commission, Earth, for tenor and orchestra by Aaron Jay Kernis, plus works by Joseph Bologne, Manuel de Falla, and Mozart. Composer and double bass virtuoso Xavier Foley premieres his Concerto for Double Bass on March 11 and 12, alongside Osvaldo Golijov’s Last Round, selections from Jennifer Higdon’s Dance Card, and Antonín Dvorˇák’s Serenade for Strings.
Pro Musica’s string quartet series continues with the Danish Quartet on Jan. 22. Their program includes music by Haydn, Shostakovich, and Benjamin Britten, plus arrangements of Nordic folk music, which seems appropriate to the season. Quartets by contemporary composers Mason Bates and George Walker are featured on the Dover String Quartet’s Feb. 12 concert, as well as Dvorˇák’s “Slavonic” Quartet No. 10.
First Presbyterian Church is the site for the group’s traditional Holy Week performances in 2023, with sacred and secular music by Christoph Graupner and Georg Philipp Telemann on April 1 and 2. For the Pro Musica season finale, Conductor Laureate Thomas O’Connor leads an April 30 orchestra concert featuring Handel’s Water Music, as well as works by Britten and W.F. Bach.
Orchestra and string quartet concert tickets are $22-$92; the Holy Week concerts are $25-$65.
SANTA FE SYMPHONY
Multiple venues, 505-983-1414, santafesymphony.org
Our orchestras seldom tackle a big Romantic-era work that fills an entire program, so good on the Santa Fe Symphony for programming Hector Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, widely considered one of his most brilliant creations, on Feb. 19. The composer called it a “dramatic symphony” for three vocalists, chorus, and orchestra, and in Berlioz’s typically quirky fashion, the vocal soloists aren’t portraying who you think they’re going to be. (The mezzo-soprano is a commentator, the tenor is Mercutio, and the baritone is Friar Lawrence.)
Most of the drama, including the portrayals of the title characters, is carried by the orchestra and chorus. As Berlioz pointed out, “The duets of love and despair are given to the orchestra [because] this is a symphony and not an opera. ... Furthermore, since duets of this nature have been treated vocally a thousand times by the greatest masters, it was wise as well as unusual to attempt another means of expression.” Symphony Principal Conductor Guillermo Figueroa conducts the orchestra, chorus, and mezzo-soprano Rebecca Robinson, tenor John Tiranno, and baritone Adrian Smith.
Other upcoming major works by the symphony are Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, both on March 26, Claude Debussy’s La Mer on April 16, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 on May 7.
Single tickets are $22-$80.
TAOS CHAMBER MUSIC GROUP
Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux St., 575-770-1167, taoschambermusicgroup.org
The new year brings new music in Taos, including a commissioned work by 17-year-old composer Sage Shurman. Hub New Music, a quartet of flute, clarinet, violin, and cello, performs Shurman’s work on Jan. 28 and 29, plus other recent works they’ve commissioned. Joy Boy by minimalism pioneer Julius Eastman is also on the program.
A Love Affair, a multi-disciplinary program of music inspired by visual art, poetry, and personal correspondence, will be performed by a flute, clarinet, viola, and piano quartet on March 5. The world premiere of Song for Taos, a piece commissioned by TCMG from Taos Pueblo composer-performer Robert Mirabal, takes place on June 3 and 4, with the Ethel Quartet joining the composer for the concerts.
Tickets are $30 with discounts available.