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The Santa Fe Opera announces former Apprentice Singer Luke Sutliff will perform the role of Orfeo on opening night, July 29, stepping in for Rolando Villazón

Emily Doyle Moore | | 505-986-5908


The Santa Fe Opera announces former Apprentice Singer Luke Sutliff will perform the role of Orfeo on opening night, July 29, stepping in for Rolando Villazón

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Santa Fe, NM The Santa Fe Opera announces baritone Luke Sutliff will perform the title role in Orfeo on opening night, Saturday, July 29. Mr. Sutliff steps in for tenor Rolando Villazón who sustained a minor injury during the final dress rehearsal on July 27 and has been prescribed four days of rest. The Santa Fe Opera expects Mr. Villazón will resume the run of performances from August 2 through 24. Says Rolando Villazón “I am absolutely gutted to miss tomorrow’s performance but I must follow the doctor’s orders in order to avoid any lasting damage to my back. I am doing everything I can in order to be well enough to perform from August 2 onwards. The rehearsal process has been such a joy and I cannot wait to perform Monteverdi’s music in Nico Muhly’s astounding orchestration and Yuval Sharon’s exceptional staging. I wish the entire cast and crew toi toi toi for tomorrow.”

About Luke Sutliff
A former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice singer, Luke Sutliff made his company debut as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2021 and last season performed the role of El Dancaïro in Carmen. In 2024 he will return as Belcore in a Stephen Lawless production of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love originating from 2009. Mr. Sutliff is a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio where he sang the role of Harvey in Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers, Brühlmann in Werther, Sciarrone in Tosca, and A Cappadocian in Salome. He made his house debut as El Dancaïro in Rob Ashford’s production of Carmen. He later performed the roles of Thierry and M. Javelinot in Dialogues of the Carmelites and Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette. The singer recently received the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation. He also received the Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation and a Career Development Grant from The Sullivan Foundation. He is also the First Place winner of The 7th Annual Saengerbund Awards. In 2021 he was a finalist in the 33rd Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition at HGO and a District Winner in The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Mr. Sutliff graduated from The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University with a Master of Music in the studio of Stephen King and received his Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School under the tutelage of the late Sanford Sylvan.

About Orfeo
Rounding out the 2023 Festival Season on July 29 is Nico Muhly’s world premiere orchestration of one of opera’s earliest written and regularly performed works, Monteverdi’s seminal Orfeo. Says Muhly, “For me, the main challenge in re-orchestrating Orfeo is realizing the continuo parts; everything needs to be, note-for-note, the same as the original, but with a modern musician’s sensibility about embellishment and ornament. Here, I’m trying to use color and timbre to achieve this, where the continuo has a more explicit relation to the plot: a sense of textural allure from the pit.”

Adds Music Director Harry Bicket, “The first 20th-century revivals of this piece, which at the time had not been performed in 300 years, were all contemporary orchestrations of the score by composers such as d’Indy, Hindemith, Casella and Berio. The Santa Fe Opera is following that tradition by commissioning an unashamedly 21st-century look at a 17th-century opera seen through the prism of a composer who includes among his influences the music of Byrd, Handel and Gibbons.”

Mirroring this contemporary approach to the work, the direction is in the hands of MacArthur Foundation grant winner Yuval Sharon in his company debut. He is joined by a notable team, including returning Costume Designer Carlos J Soto and Sound Designer Mark Grey. The rest make Santa Fe Opera debuts: Alex Schweder and Matthew Johnson give us the visual environment and Yuki Nakase Link and Hana S. Kim provide the lighting and projection designs, respectively. 

One of the greatest exponents of the title role, superstar tenor Rolando Villazón, makes his company debut alongside soprano Lauren Snouffer who sings the roles of La Musica/Speranza. Mezzo-soprano and former Apprentice singer Paula Murrihy sings La Messaggera, James Creswell is Caronte and baritone Blake Denson is Plutone. Susanne Sheston is the Chorus Master and Rick Sordelet, Christian Kelly-Sordelet and Shireen Yehya serve as Fight and Intimacy Directors.


Music by Claudio Monteverdi
World Premiere Orchestration by Nico Muhly*
Libretto by Alessandro Striggio
Premiered 24 February 1607, Carnival of Mantua, Mantua

A Company Premiere and New Santa Fe Opera Production
5 Performances — July 29; August 2, 11, 16 & 24
Sung in Italian with opera titles in English and Spanish
Run time: Approximately 1 hour 40 minutes without intermission
Please be advised: This production contains mist, strobing effects, and bright light beams. 

Production support generously provided by
The Avenir Production Fund
Additional artistic support provided by

Carl & Marilynn Thomas Foundation
Edward & Betsy Cohen – The Aretê Foundation
Sarah Billinghurst Solomon
Brautigam-Kaplan-Ostergaard Foundation
The General Director’s Premiere Fund in honor of Richard Gaddes
The Fund for New or Rarely Performed Operas by Dr. Patricia A. McFate
in memory of Ambassador Sidney N. Graybeal

The performances of Rolando Villazón are supported by
Gene & Jean Stark

The performances of Lauren Snouffer are supported by
The MacKay Fund for Debut Artists

Creative Team
Conductor Harry Bicket
Stage Director Yuval Sharon*
Visual Environment Alex Schweder*, Matthew Johnson*
Costume Designer Carlos J Soto
Lighting Designer Yuki Nakase Link*
Projection Designer Hana S. Kim*
Sound Designer Mark Grey
Chorus Master Susanne Sheston
Fight & Intimacy Directors Rick Sordelet, Christian Kelly-Sordelet, Shireen Yehya
Associate Producer Julie Kim*

Orfeo Rolando Villazón*
Orfeo Luke Sutliff+ (July 29)
La Musica/Speranza Lauren Snouffer*
La Messaggera Paula Murrihy+ (through August 16)
La Messaggera Lucy Evans= (August 24)
Euridice Amber Norelai*=
Caronte James Creswell
Plutone Blake Denson
Proserpina Caitlin Aloia*=
La Ninfa Lucy Evans*= (through August 16)
La Ninfa Meridian Prall= (August 24)
Apollo Luke Harnish*=
First Pastore Philippe L’Esperance*=
Second Pastore Brandon Bell=
Third Pastore Luke Elmer*=
Fourth Pastore/First Spirit Younggwang Park*=
Fifth Pastore/Second Spirit Le Bu*=
The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra & Chorus
*Santa Fe Opera Debut, =Current Santa Fe Opera Apprentice, +Former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

The 2023 Season Scheduled in the Santa Fe Opera’s 66th Festival Season are 38 performances including two evenings of Apprentice Scenes. The company holds to its mission and time-tested programming model: a balanced and varied repertory of new, lesser-performed and standard works. Opening on June 30 and July 1 are two standard works, Tosca and The Flying Dutchman, followed by two lesser-performed works, Pelléas et Mélisande and Rusalka, on July 15 and July 22. Rounding out the season and presented for the first time on July 29 will be Monteverdi’s seminal Orfeo with a world premiere orchestration by American composer Nico Muhly. Tickets are on sale now at

About The Santa Fe Opera The Santa Fe Opera annually draws 85,000 people from New Mexico and around the globe. Nestled atop a mountain vista in northern New Mexico, the company’s iconic Crosby Theatre is open on three sides, allowing visitors to enjoy performances complemented by the elements. Since 1957 the company has presented over 2,000 performances of 179 operas by 91 composers spanning five centuries of opera, creating a legacy of 45 American premieres and 18 world premieres. In November 2022, the company was recognized as “Festival of the Year” at the International Opera Awards.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility at the Santa Fe Opera — Opera has the power to speak truth, broaden perspectives and invite empathy. The Santa Fe Opera is committed to the continuous work of becoming an antiracist and anti-oppressive organization and incorporating the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. Our goal is to create a joyful and engaging environment in which a diverse community of artists, staff, volunteers and audiences alike belong.

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 an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public.

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