Setting the Stage Campaign

You Make the Difference


Given that it produces at least five mainstage operas each season — six, if there is a double bill — The Santa Fe Opera requires plenty of space.

According to an accepted principle in the theater world, the backstage and production areas of a proper house should be at least triple that of the public spaces. Thanks to the current “Setting the Stage” campaign, the company has met and exceeded that goal. It also is close to meeting the campaign’s $45 million fund-raising goal, with $41 million in hand or pledged, including $10 million in reserves funds to maintain the theater in pristine condition in perpetuity.

Entering the final phase of the “Setting the Stage” campaign, The Santa Fe Opera is pleased to unveil a new seat-naming campaign. Patrons are invited to dedicate seats in The Crosby Theatre in their own names or in the name of someone they wish to honor. Beginning in the 2018 season, with the installation of a new Electronic Libretto System, seat naming dedications will display on the screen directly in front of each patron's seat prior to performances and during intermission.

Over the last two years, major construction and renovations have taken place during the fall, winter, and spring months to avoid interfering with summer seasons. That is in keeping with Santa Fe Opera history: The initial house, seating 480, was built before the opening of the first 1957 season. The second, accommodating 1,887, was constructed September 1967 through June 1968 after a fire leveled the theater the morning of July 27, 1967.

The current house, which accommodates more than 2,100 plus an additional 100 in standing room, is the first of the company’s theaters to be fully roofed. It was raised in a similar time frame in 1997 and 1998. John Crosby personally supervised each project and process from planning to completion, lending a practical hand himself during the first season and subsequent renovations. Throughout every change or new construction, the building has remained true to the placement of the first house — even though the original structure would today almost be lost in the grand current site.

Looking ahead, the emphasis in developing the company’s infrastructure is not on seating capacity, but on the quality of the facilities that serve our patrons and artists. The “Setting the Stage” campaign is designed to ensure that these facilities are state-of-the-art for the next 50 years.

In its first phase, 2014-15, the campaign’s objectives included upgrading the company’s patron amenities and rebuilding backstage areas and artistic facilities, which had not been updated in more than 45 years. Dressing rooms for both principal artists and the chorus were completely rebuilt and expanded, and the size of the costume shop was doubled.

For patrons, concessions were improved as well as restroom facilities (one of founder Crosby's constant concerns). Improved patron services were also added throughout the front-of-house areas: New pre-opera dining spaces were added on the Twomey Terrace and the popular Opera Shop is now adjacent to the theater’s entrance gates and has more than doubled its former size.

The second phase was completed in 2016. It included the building of a new paint shop and ancillary areas for carpentry and fabrication, with consequent office expansion in the production department, designed to meet the growing technical demands of modern productions. The backstage areas have increased from approximately 30,000 to 60,000 square feet with the recent completion of the Suzanne Hanson Poole Production Center.

The Wyncote Opera Club is a new two-story structure providing more amenities for Club members and patrons. Stravinsky Terrace, one of the prime audience gathering spaces pre-performance and during intermission, has also been expanded and joined to the new Townsend Terrace, providing even more room for strolling, conversation, and viewing iconic New Mexico sunsets.

The final phase, 2016-17, will include renovation work in the orchestra pit, repaving and refurbishment of the parking areas, and construction of a dedicated storage facility for properties and scenery.

All of the Opera’s renovation and construction would have no purpose without the performances, as they depend on a nightly audience to experience this most complex and rewarding of art forms. That means a streamlined and responsive box office, with ticket sales meeting a notable percentage of 2015’s $22 million budget, at more than $8.7 million. The greater part of the remaining balance comes from the company’s endowment and robust fundraising efforts, coupled with a keen eye toward the control of expenses in every aspect of operations.

For information on how you can be a part of "Setting the Stage" for the company’s future, contact Robert Meya, Director of External Affairs, at 505-986-5912.

From its founding The Santa Fe Opera
has always looked in new directions,
taking its inspiration not from the
traditional world of opera, but from the
sense of a truly American company in
its artistic point of view and its
welcoming spirit.

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