Over the past 25 years, Ravel Strub has only missed the opening night of the Santa Fe Opera House twice.
The first time he was in Paris. The second, a pandemic struck.
“It’s part of the tradition of this city,” said Strub, who like many others missed last year’s event, which was canceled due to the coronavirus shutdown. “Summer does not begin until the day the opera opens. Hell or high tide, I was going to be here.
After a hiatus of almost two years, the Santa Fe Opera returned on Saturday with a sold-out performance of Mozart’s work The Marriage of Figaro.
“He’s an absolute favorite among our audience,” said Robert K. Meya, general manager of the opera. “It is also one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.”
By 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, hundreds of people had arrived at the Opera House on the outskirts of Santa Fe to participate in the tailgate before the show – a beloved and unique Santa Fe Opera tradition that dates back to decades.
Operators, some clad in elaborate dresses, sequined dresses and tuxedos, set up linen picnic tables on a stormy July evening.
“I’ve been coming for 20 years,” said Karen Durkovich, who ate and drank with a group of friends in the upper parking lot. “We still have the tailgate.”
“It’s as important as keeping up with college and university sporting events,” said Meya, who has been associated with the Santa Fe Opera since becoming the steward of the opera club in 1999. “It has been a tradition here for as long as I can remember.”
For some, this year’s opening night was one of the first big community events they’ve attended since the governor lifted COVID-19 restrictions earlier this month. For Durkovich, it couldn’t have happened sooner.
“Two years without her we would have come regardless of the performance,” she said.
For Jennifer Villela, the opening performance represented a much needed return to normal.
“We were sad for everyone last year,” said Villela, who met her husband, Khristaan Villela, at the Santa Fe Opera in 2004. “The fact that [it’s] the return feels like we’re getting there. … It’s enormous.
Until Saturday, the last live performance of the opera was to Bohemian August 24, 2019.
“The artists are excited to come back and do what they love,” said Meya. “There is nothing for an artist like being in front of a live audience. “
This summer’s live broadcasts are accompanied by nightly TV broadcasts on two 300 square foot LED walls in the lower parking lot.
Sonia Russo, originally from New Mexico who now lives in Denver, decided to attend a live screening with her mother, Kusum.
“It’s a safe option,” said Russo, who has been to the opera with his mother since the age of 10. “And we still have a way to have the flavor of opera and the experience of tailgating.”
The main stage will continue social distancing measures, including keeping at least one empty seat between individual groups of up to six people. The first two rows of the theater will remain empty to ensure a safe distance between the audience, the performers and the orchestra.
The 2021 opera season will continue until the end of August. In the same way The Marriage of Figaro, performances are scheduled by John Corigliano The lord of screams, by Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin and that of Benjamin Britten A Midsummer Night’s dream.
There will also be a concert on August 7 from singer Angel Blue. Two apprentice demonstration stages, featuring apprentice singers and opera techniques, are scheduled for August 15 and 22.
In August, the Santa Fe Opera House will begin a program called Opera in the Park, located in Santa Fe Place and sponsored by the city, with organizational help from the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe. Live simulcasts will take place on 1 January. , 2, 8 and 9 August and will include the four operas.
For 10-year subscription holders Mary and John Mackay, the return of opera this year means a lot.
“This community needs it,” said John, sitting with his wife at a small table in the lower parking lot. “It’s a feeling of pride.”
“To have it happen again means we’re out of it,” Mary said. “We can see the other side.”