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Aria! Planned Giving Spotlight: Janet Napolitano

Media Contact: Emily Doyle Moore | media@santafeopera.org | 505-986-5908

Aria! Planned Giving Spotlight: Janet Napolitano


A native of Albuquerque, Janet Napolitano was 11 years old when she saw her first opera in Santa Fe, Menotti’s Help, Help the Globolinks! She and her family put on their ski coats, due to chilly evening temperatures, and attended every summer after that, enjoying hot chocolate at intermission.

I think as you mature, your understanding and appreciation of opera matures with you. An opera I saw when I was 13 or 14 I can see now at 63 and enjoy it in a different way. It is a fun art form to grow up with.

When asked if she has a favorite opera among those she’s seen in Santa Fe, Napolitano replied, “They’re all memorable, each in their own way. I love the standard Italian operas. I love La bohème and Butterfly. The Tempest was really phenomenal. The set design was amazing. I remember a performance of The Flying Dutchman, that great opening overture, the sound of the sea.” Napolitano also loves operas by Mozart, especially the Santa Fe Opera’s 2019 production of Così fan tutte.

Regarding the 2021 lineup, Napolitano is especially looking forward to Eugene Onegin. “Figaro is always great fun. Onegin is a little deeper. What a combination! And being able to see opera live again on the Santa Fe Opera stage is proof positive that we are through the worst of the pandemic!”

The Santa Fe Opera has been a consistent backdrop in Napolitano’s life. “I think as you mature, your understanding and appreciation of opera matures with you. An opera I saw when I was 13 or 14 I can see now at 63 and enjoy it in a different way. It is a fun art form to grow up with.”

Napolitano said she recognizes that institutions like the Santa Fe Opera require philanthropic support to continue doing what they do best. “If you’re fortunate to have a little extra money, you can put it to a great purpose.”

Janet Napolitano has served as governor of Arizona, Barack Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security, and president of the University of California System. She is currently on the faculty of UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.