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Side view of theater at dusk with white baffles

2020 Year in Review

By Robert K. Meya

2020 Year in Review

 View or Print Press Release (PDF)

Dear Friends,

As I reflect on the past year and all we have endured, my thoughts turn gratefully to you. Your support and friendship have been steadfast, and you have sustained the Santa Fe Opera in spite of the loss of our 2020 Season. Your personal messages of care have bolstered the artists, staff and volunteers, and your generosity has inspired us to believe in all that is good and possible.

Within the pages of the “2020 Year In Review,” it is an honor to acknowledge all that you have done to sustain our place among the finest opera festivals in the world. It is also a pleasure to share the efforts we have undertaken to fulfill our mission as we reinvented performance and community engagement for a virtual world.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were in a strong position to meet our ticket sales and fundraising goals, having sold $5 million in tickets and raised nearly $8 million in contributions. Our productions of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, a company premiere, and Huang Ruo’s M. Butterfly, a world premiere, were garnering significant attention from national and international press. It was to be the inaugural season programmed along with my partners Artistic Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Harry Bicket. We could not have predicted such a drastic turn of events.

That said, this is not our first test. In 1967, our theater burned to the ground in the middle of the season, leaving many to wonder how or if we could rebuild. Our founder and then-General Director John Crosby was not among them. Within days, we resumed performances – in modern dress – at a local school auditorium, and within a year, we opened a new theater with nearly five times the capacity, setting the stage for the Santa Fe Opera as an international destination.

Going forward, while much is unknown, it is the Santa Fe Opera’s spirit of determination and bold vision that helps us imagine opportunities instead of challenges. The goals I initially set forth for my tenure as General Director will shift to reflect our present reality, but I am confident that we will emerge stronger and more resilient than ever.

It is humbling to consider that due to the thousands of individuals who donated the value of their tickets, we have almost twice as many donors in 2020 than we did in 2019. We are also indebted to the generous individuals who collectively gave $3 million to match the value of donated tickets and new contributions. The matching campaign helped make possible payments to hundreds of seasonal staff, including artists and members of the Apprentice Program for Singers and Technicians. Thank you.

My thoughts are with you and your loved ones as we navigate this uncharted territory together. We hold great hope for what 2021 will bring and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Santa Fe Opera, in person, as we move toward a safe and unified future.

With gratitude,

Robert K. Meya signature

Robert K. Meya
General Director