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2018 Season Updates


2018 Season Updates

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In celebration of #BernsteinAt100, the composer’s centenary, the 2018 season opens with the company premiere of his 20th century treasure Candide on June 29, 2018

Santa Fe Opera’s signature productions of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers see revivals

For the first time in nearly twenty years, Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos returns in a new production

John Adams’ and Peter Sellars’ Doctor Atomic comes to the land of its inspiration in its third and newest production

Madame Butterfly scene


Leonard Bernstein

New Production. A company premiere.

Madame Butterfly

Giacomo Puccini

Revival Production. Last performed in 2010.

Doctor Atomic

John Adams and Peter Sellars

New Production. A company premiere.

The Italian Girl in Algiers

Gioachino Rossini

Revival Production. Last performed in 2002.

Ariadne auf Naxos

Richard Strauss

New Production. Last performed in 1999.

Santa Fe, NM — Santa Fe Opera’s General Director Charles MacKay announced updates for the company’s 2018 season:

Due to its popularity, a performance has been added of Bernstein’s Candide on Tuesday, August 21. John Fiore has replaced Jader Bignamini as conductor for Madame ButterflyMatthew Ozawa will direct the late Lee Blakeley’s original production, and bass Solomon Howard has been added to the cast as The Bonze. Emily Johnson will make her company debut as choreographer for Doctor Atomic, replacing Lucinda Childs, and bass Andrew Harris, a former Apprentice, has been added in the role of Edward Teller. Bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi returns to Santa Fe and has been added to the cast of The Italian Girl in Algiers as Taddeo. Santa Fe Opera congratulates Erin Morley on her pregnancy; unfortunately, this means she will not be singing Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos this summer. She will be replaced by Liv Redpath, a former Apprentice.

The 2018 Season

The 2018 season presents five operas in 36 performances, running from June 29 to August 25, 2018. The Opera’s 62nd season offers works by American icons and European masters, four of which are repertory from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Leonard Bernstein’s 1956 smash Broadway hit Candide opens the season in a new production by Laurent Pelly. The beloved American composer is honored in a year-long international celebration of his 100th birthday (#BernsteinAt100) which officially kicked-off on August 25, 2017. Bernstein’s 100th birthday on August 25, 2018, closes the season and this production of Candide.

Perhaps no other opera has been more important or nostalgic within the history of Santa Fe Opera as Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. It was the first opera presented in the 1957 inaugural season of the company, the first performance in the rebuilt theater in 1968 following the Opera’s devastating fire, and the opening of the 1998 season which introduced the newest theater after major renovations and expansion. It is fitting that Puccini’s masterpiece is presented in the season that celebrates the completion of recent renovations, the 50th anniversary of the Opera’s current stage, and the continuation of the Setting the Stage Campaign. In one of Santa Fe Opera’s most popular productions, hailed as “sensitive, freshly considered and affectingly sung” by The New York Times at its debut in 2010, Madame Butterfly opens on June 30. Two highly-regarded Cio-Cio-San interpreters share the title role – Kelly Kaduce, beginning on June 30 through July 20, and Ana María Martínez, beginning on July 30 through August 24.

John Adams and Peter Sellars’ Doctor Atomic explores the ushering in of the Atomic Age on July 16, 1945, when the first bomb was tested in the southern New Mexican desert near Alamogordo. The opera opens at the laboratory of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, some 25 miles from Santa Fe Opera’s stage. The Opera’s audience will finally encounter this masterpiece under the very same night sky that Robert Oppenheimer and his team of scientists experienced nearly 75 years ago. According to The San Francisco Chronicle review of the premiere in 2005, the opera “stands as a major addition to the operatic repertory of this new century, the first to be inaugurated with the specter of instant death very much around us.”

Another one of Santa Fe Opera’s most admired productions, Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers, has been received in select cities throughout the country since its debut in 2002 with similar enthusiasm. With Robert Innes Hopkins’ huge pop-up book set with crashing planes and hot air balloons, David C. Woolard’s 1920s costumes, and the title role of Isabella conceived as Amelia Earhart-esque, it’s no surprise that the production has been so popular.

Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, also presented in the Opera’s first season, returns in a new production directed by Tim Albery. One of the composer’s most innovative and forward-thinking creations, Ariadne combines theatrical slapstick comedy with high drama set to some of Strauss’ most beautiful music.


Matthew Aucoin (Conductor), Julia Bullock (Soprano), Scott Conner (Bass), Matthew DiBattista+ (Tenor), James Gaffigan (Conductor), A. J. Glueckert+ (Tenor), David Gropman (Scenic Designer), Andrew Harris+ (Bass), Suzanne Hendrix+ (Mezzo-soprano), Emily Johnson (Choreographer), Shawna Lucey + (Director), Megan Marino+ (Mezzo-soprano), Jarrett Ott+ (Baritone), Matthew Ozawa (Director), Nicholas Pallesen+ (Baritone), Liv Redpath (Soprano), Brenton Ryan (Tenor), Jack Swanson+ (Tenor), Richard Troxell+ (Tenor)

+former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

Returning Artists

(with most recent or upcoming SFO engagement)


Meredith Arwady (The Golden Cockerel, 2017), Ben Bliss (Capriccio, 2016), Kevin Burdette (Die Fledermaus, 2017), Patrick Carfizzi+ (The Elixir of Love, 2009), Amanda Echalaz (Tosca, 2012), Rod Gilfry (The Tempest, 2006), Joshua Guerrero (Roméo et Juliette, 2016), Solomon Howard (Don Giovanni, 2016), Kelly Kaduce (Madame Butterfly, 2010), Daniela Mack (Carmen, 2014), Amanda Majeski (Capriccio, 2016), Ana María Martínez (Carmen, 2014), Ryan McKinny (Salome, 2015), Tim Mix (Roméo et Juliette, 2016), Daniel Okulitch (Don Giovanni, 2016), Brenda Rae (Lucia di Lammermoor, 2017), Helene Schneiderman (Vanessa, 2016), Alek Shrader (Alcina, 2017), Bruce Sledge (Rigoletto, 2015), Craig Verm (Capriccio, 2016)


Harry Bicket (Alcina, 2017), John Fiore (Salome, 2006), Corrado Rovaris (Lucia di Lammermoor, 2017)


Tim Albery (Capriccio, 2016), Laurent Pelly (Don Pasquale, 2014),

Peter Sellars (Griselda, 2011)


Gabriel Berry (Ainadamar, 2005), Rick Fisher (Salome, 2015), Thomas C. Hase (La Finta Giardiniera, 2015),

Tobias Hoheisel, (Capriccio, 2016), James F. Ingalls (Griselda, 2011), Robert Innes Hopkins (Wozzeck, 2011),

Laurent Pelly (Don Pasquale, 2014), Jean-Marc Puissant (The Pearl Fishers, 2012), Duane Schuler (Die Fledermaus, 2017), Brigitte Reiffenstuel (The Pearl Fishers, 2012), Chantal Thomas (Don Pasquale, 2014), David C. Woolard (Cold Mountain, 2015)

Chorus Master

Susanne Sheston (Die Fledermaus, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Golden Cockerel, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, 2017)


Music by Leonard Bernstein

Book by Hugh Wheeler, after Voltaire

Words by Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, and Leonard Bernstein

June 29, July 4, 7, 13, 31, August 6, 11, 14, 21 & 25

Sung in English with Opera Titles in English and Spanish.

A new Santa Fe Opera production. A company premiere.

Premiered in 1956 on Broadway.

Scottish Opera Version.

Production underwriting support generously provided by Robert & Ellen Vladem.

On August 25, 1918, Leonard Bernstein was born into a not particularly musical home. When he was ten, his aunt moved her piano into his family’s house, intriguing the boy who grew up to become the most prodigiously talented musician America has ever produced. At 25, he was appointed assistant conductor of The New York Philharmonic. A year later he opened his first Broadway musical, On the Town. In 1951, his first opera, Trouble in Tahiti, premiered, followed two years later by Wonderful Town, another Broadway hit. In 1954 he made his first television broadcast as a musical educator. West Side Story follows in 1957.

Candide opened on Broadway in 1956. Bernstein’s collaborators included playwright Lillian Hellman, poets Richard Wilbur and John La Touche, lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and director Tyrone Guthrie. Despite their combined talents and those of an exceptional cast, the production was less than the sum of its impressive parts, closing after 73 performances. The memory of it was strong, however, and it has since been revived in many different production styles. The Santa Fe staging will be based on the version premiered by the Scottish Opera in 1988.

The optimistic Candide and his fiancée Cunegonde have been taught that “Everything’s for the best in this best of all possible worlds,” but their voyage through life soon begins to suggest otherwise, with separation, volcanic eruptions, deadly earthquakes, the tortures of the Spanish Inquisition, shipwreck, prostitution, poverty, and warfare among their obstacles. Finally re-united, they come to realize that “Life is neither good nor bad. Life is life, and all we know.”

The score bristles with spectacular music, including its justly famous overture, the soprano showpiece “Glitter and Be Gay,” and the soaring finale, “Make Our Garden Grow.”

“To have the opportunity to stage Candide, a unique and brilliant work which sits halfway between great opera and musical comedy, and which navigates with humor, audacity, and irony Voltaire’s philosophical tale – a masterpiece of French literature – is a dream come true for me,” wrote Director Laurent Pelly. “To bring this crazy and cruel story to life, we will travel through a world where the characters come to life as if escaping from the author’s manuscripts in pursuit of happiness, and where we will experience through their extraordinary trials and tribulations, the vagaries of destiny and the folly of man.”

Conductor: Harry Bicket

Director: Laurent Pelly

Scenic Design: Chantal Thomas

Costume Design: Laurent Pelly

Lighting Design: Duane Schuler

Chorus Master: Susanne Sheston

Cunegonde: Brenda Rae, soprano

Candide: Alek Shrader, tenor

Voltaire/Pangloss/Martin/Cacambo: Kevin Burdette, bass

Old Lady: Helene Schneiderman, mezzo-soprano

Maximilian/Captain:  Jarrett Ott*+, baritone

Governor/Vanderdendur/ Ragotski: Richard Troxell*+, tenor

*debut, +former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

Madame Butterfly

Music by Giacomo Puccini

Words by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica after the play by David Belasco

June 30, July 6, 11, 20, 30, August, 4, 8, 13, 18, 22, 24

Sung in Italian with Opera Titles in English and Spanish.

A revival of Santa Fe Opera’s 2010 production.

First performed at Santa Fe Opera in 1957.

Premiered in 1904 at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.

In 1898, a dapper Philadelphia lawyer named John Luther Long wrote a short novel called Madame Butterfly, about a callous American naval lieutenant who marries a 15-year-old Japanese geisha and then deserts her. Two years later, legendary impresario David Belasco created a Broadway sensation with his stage adaptation, thanks to leading lady Blanche Bates and Belasco’s trademark technical wizardry, which transfixed audiences during the 14-minute span between the play’s two scenes —14 minutes during which no words were spoken, as Butterfly, her servant Suzuki, and her child Trouble await the arrival of Pinkerton.

Puccini saw Belasco’s London production later that summer, loved its theatricality and pathos, and sought the rights to use it for his next opera. “The more I think of Butterfly the more irresistibly I am attracted,” he wrote in November of 1900. “If only I had it here so I could start work on it!”

After a long gestation, Madame Butterfly debuted at La Scala in February 1904. The opening night was a notorious fiasco, despite a first-rate production. A claque, possibly organized by a rival, reduced the performance to a shambles. “Groans, roars, moos, laughs, bellows, sneers … that is how the public welcomed the new opera by Puccini,” reported a contemporary journalist.

Stung by the response, Puccini withdrew the opera and revised it for later productions, starting in Brescia, where it

triumphed four months later. It’s not surprising, since Madame Butterfly contains his longest and most passionate love duet, much of his most lyrical music, including the “Humming Chorus” and “Flower Duet,” a justly famous soprano aria in “Un bel dì,” and a spine-tingling climax.

“Stripping away excess was one of our guiding principles in approaching this opera,” wrote Director Lee Blakeley. “We worked with a strong belief in the text and played it moment to moment like a play. Loyalty in the face of adversity and the unforeseen poverty are two of the major themes explored. The romantic fantasy of act one gives way to a harder more forward-moving Japan which, ironically, leaves a westward-looking Butterfly behind.”

Conductor: John Fiore

Director: Matthew Ozawa*

Scenic Design: Jean-Marc Puissant

Costume Design: Brigitte Reiffenstuel

Lighting Design: Rick Fisher

Chorus Master: Susanne Sheston

Production: Lee Blakeley

Cio-Cio-San: Kelly Kaduce, soprano (June 30-July 20) and Ana María Martínez, soprano (July 30-August 24)

B. F. Pinkerton: A. J. Glueckert*+, tenor (June 30-July 20) and Joshua Guerrero, tenor (July 30-August 24)

Suzuki: Megan Marino*+, mezzo-soprano

Sharpless: Nicholas Pallesen*+, baritone

The Bonze: Solomon Howard, bass

Goro: Matthew DiBattista*+, tenor

*debut, +former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

Doctor Atomic

Music by John Adams

Words by Peter Sellars drawn from original sources

July 14, 18, 27, August 2, 7, 16

Sung in English with Opera Titles in English and Spanish.

A new Santa Fe Opera production. A company premiere.

Premiered in 2005 at San Francisco Opera.

Production underwriting support generously provided by Gene & Jean Stark and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

First performed in 2005, Doctor Atomic reunited composer John Adams with librettist/stage director Peter Sellars, whose earlier collaborations include Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer. This new production, staged by Sellars, also marks the first John Adams work to be performed by Santa Fe Opera.

Doctor Atomic takes place during June and July 1945, leading up to the detonation of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site outside Alamogordo. The text is a mosaic drawn from declassified government documents, participant letters and interviews, poetry by Baudelaire and Muriel Rukeyser, John Donne’s “Holy Sonnets,” the Hindu Bhagavad Gītā, and a hauntingly prophetic Native American song. John Adams describes his inspiration for the score as “the science-fiction movie music of the 1950s, which I watched as a little kid on black and white television. I remember how many started with some nuclear test in the desert … and the kind of fear that I felt growing up in the 1950s and 60s.”

And while the opera is set against an historical background, the true subject is moral obligation and ethical conflict. What are the larger responsibilities of scientists on the threshold of a potentially earth-shattering discovery? J. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the bomb project, seems to push aside any doubts by relying on the wisdom of his superiors in Washington. (“They have the information which we do not possess.”) Hungarian émigré physicist Leó Szilárd compares their situation to that of European scientists who failed to speak out against Hitler. Robert Wilson argues for a public viewing of the bomb test and the chance to let Japan surrender before it is used in combat.

Doctor Atomic has received international acclaim since its premiere, with The New York Times calling it “The most complex and inventive of Mr. Adams’s works, an engrossing operatic drama,” and The New Yorker hailing it as “not only an ominous score but also an uncommonly beautiful one. Scene after scene glows with strange energy.” But no matter how great its impact elsewhere, Doctor Atomic promises to be overpowering when performed at a place where you can gaze out at the lights of Los Alamos and at a time when we are all just minutes away from possible destruction.

“To me, that’s one of the great functions of opera,” said Director Peter Sellars. “To take people’s secrets, the secrets of civilizations, the secrets of entire swaths of history, and not just whisper them – sing them, aloud with power and with some kind of grace. And create something that you have a visceral reaction to – something unspoken, that’s not allowed to be spoken, and therefore has to be sung.”

Conductor: Matthew Aucoin*

Director: Peter Sellars

Scenic Design: David Gropman*

Costume Design: Gabriel Berry

Lighting Design: James F. Ingalls

Choreography: Emily Johnson*

Chorus Master: Susanne Sheston

Robert Oppenheimer: Ryan McKinny, baritone

Kitty Oppenheimer: Julia Bullock*, soprano

Robert Wilson: Ben Bliss, tenor

Pasqualita: Meredith Arwady, contralto

Edward Teller: Andrew Harris*+, bass

General Groves: Daniel Okulitch, baritone

Jack Hubbard: Tim Mix, baritone

*debut, +former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

The Italian girl in Algiers

Music by Gioachino Rossini

Words by Angelo Anelli

July 21, 25, August 3, 9, 17

Sung in Italian with Opera Titles in English and Spanish.

A revival of Santa Fe Opera’s 2002 production.

First performed at Santa Fe Opera in 2002.

Premiered in 1813 at Venice’s Teatro San Benedetto.

The 21-year-old Gioachino Rossini rocketed to fame in 1813 with twin masterpieces, one serious and one comic. First launched was Tancredi, a “heroic opera” centered on long-ago warfare between the Byzantine Empire and Arabic Muslims. Its premiere in February was a phenomenal success, with Rossini’s first biographer calling it “a genuine thunderbolt out of a clear, blue sky for the Italian lyric theatre.”

The Italian Girl in Algiers opened just three months later. This time, Rossini explored the comic possibilities of the relationship between the European and “Moorish” cultures, as they were then called. The result was one of his finest and funniest comedies, set to music of enormous vitality, and it was an immediate smash hit. The composer himself described its giddy audiences as “even crazier than I am.” Stendahl soon crafted the perfect four-word description —“organized and complete madness”— and no less a fan than Richard Strauss later said he was “mad with enthusiasm” for it.

Three wild and crazy guys compete for the affections of “The Italian Girl” Isabella. The tenor Lindoro is her true love, but he’s been captured by the bass Mustafà, blowhard ruler of Algiers, who’s desperate to trade in his home-grown wife for a sleek foreign model. Taddeo, the “hope-springs-eternal” baritone, is equally desperate and equally willing to do just about anything to win her hand.

Through a series of madcap machinations worthy of the Marx Brothers, with music to match, Isabella bamboozles Mustafà and his entire army, liberating Lindoro and escaping with him back to Italian shores. The cast sings the moral of the story as they depart:

The beautiful Italian girl

Who came to Algiers,

Has taught lovers

Who are jealous and haughty

That a woman, if she wishes,

Can fool the entire world.

“Audiences will want to see Italian Girl because it will be packed with hijinks and laughter-inducing pranks that will keep them chuckling even when they leave the theater,” wrote Director Shawna Lucey. “It’s the ideal combination of perfect music and non-stop comedy for a fun and wild night at the opera! We have updated his folly-filled work to the 1930’s with sets by Robert Innes Hopkins and costumes by David C. Woolard. Our Amelia Earhart-inspired Isabella leads the antics of our tale, and with her artful pranks we see how love and desire make fools of us all and how “a determined woman will always have her way.”

Conductor: Corrado Rovaris

Director: Shawna Lucey*+

Scenic Design: Robert Innes Hopkins

Costume Design: David C. Woolard

Lighting Design: Duane Schuler

Chorus Master: Susanne Sheston

Production Edward Hastings

Isabella: Daniela Mack, mezzo-soprano

Lindoro: Jack Swanson*+, tenor

Mustafà: Scott Conner*, bass

Zulma: Suzanne Hendrix*+, mezzo-soprano

Taddeo: Patrick Carfizzi+, bass-baritone

Haly: Craig Verm+, baritone

*debut, +former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

Ariadne auf naxos

Music by Richard Strauss

Words by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

July 28, August 1, 10, 15, 23

Sung in German with Opera Titles in English and Spanish.

A new Santa Fe Opera production. Last performed at Santa Fe in 1999.

First performed at Santa Fe Opera in 1957.

Premiered in 1912 at Staatsoper Stuttgart. Revised version first performed at Vienna’s Court Opera in 1916.

It isn’t easy being the richest man in Vienna, especially when you’re hosting the party to end all parties. His Major-Domo dishes the dirt: “Can you believe it? My master plans the perfect evening—a sumptuous dinner and spectacular fireworks, to begin promptly at nine, with a little theatrical diversion he has so generously commissioned in between—a brand-new opera seria, followed by a comedy troupe, to cleanse the musical palate. And what happens? Total chaos!”

Written for 16 soloists and a Mozartian orchestra of 36 players, Ariadne auf Naxos is Strauss’ most enchanting and wittiest opera, a comic collision of idealism and reality, of backstage grit and onstage glory. Vocal and theatrical fireworks abound in this new production by Tim Albery.

“Ariadne, tragic heroine, alone on her island abandoned by Theseus, waiting for death now that her one and only love has left her … Zerbinetta, comedienne, playing her many lovers off against each other, certain that love is fleeting … The composer of Ariadne, convinced that his Ariadne is right about the nature of true love, but readily seduced by the fascinations of Zerbinetta … The paradoxes that lie at the intersection of art and real life are the stuff of Strauss’ Ariadne,” wrote Director Tim Albery. “We meet the performers and the managers backstage before the show with all their vanities and weaknesses, and then watch the performance itself as, at the whim of a wealthy employer, the pure beauty of the composer’s world is invaded by the improvised mockery of Zerbinetta’s.”

Conductor: James Gaffigan*

Director: Tim Albery

Scenic & Costume Design: Tobias Hoheisel

Lighting Design: Thomas C. Hase

The Prima Donna/Ariadne: Amanda Echalaz, soprano

The Tenor/Bacchus: Bruce Sledge, tenor

Zerbinetta: Liv Redpath*+, soprano

The Composer: Amanda Majeski, soprano

The Music Master: Rod Gilfry, baritone

The Dancing Master: Brenton Ryan*, tenor

Harlequin: Jarrett Ott+, baritone

Scaramuccio: Matthew DiBattista+, tenor

The Major Domo: Kevin Burdette, bass

*debut, +former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

2018 Season Information

Performance Start Times

June 29-July 28, 8:30 PM

July 30-August 25, 8:00 PM

Apprentice Scenes

Fully-staged scenes from the operatic repertory showcasing the remarkable talent of Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Singers and Technicians will be presented on two consecutive Sunday evenings, August 12 and 19, 2018.

2018 Tickets

Tickets to the 2018 season are on sale now online at, by telephone 505.986.5900 (toll free 800.280.4654), or in person.

The mission of The Santa Fe Opera is to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality in a unique setting with a varied repertory of new, rarely performed, and standard works; to ensure the excellence of opera’s future through apprentice programs for singers, technicians, and arts administrators; and to foster and enrich an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public.