Opening night a gala to remember

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Opening Night is a festive night at The Santa Fe Opera. Locals and their guests, and many from out of town, look forward to the evening for months, planning what they will eat to what they will wear. The parking lot fills early with opera-goers enjoying supper and greeting friends. Menus, decorations and garb range from the simple to the elaborate, each with an individual touch. 

Three tailgate partyers will be lucky winners in the first-ever Tailgate Contest. Labeled “Best in Show,” winners will be chosen by judges for their overall presentations. 

As the sun begins to set over the mountains the audience moves to the theater patio to toast the season with champagne before taking their seats. The champagne is a gift to the Opera and the audience from Gruet Winery.

Right after the singing of the national anthem, The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein swings into action and the season is officially underway. Susan Graham, the brilliant internationally acclaimed mezzo soprano heads an all-American cast of singers including Paul Appleby, Anya Matanovič, Kevin Burdette, Aaron Pegram and Jonathan Michie.

Graham, who was born in New Mexico, raised in Texas, and has a home in Santa Fe, sings the title role, a grand duchess and patron of the Gerolstein Military Academy. As such, she receives undivided loyalty from all her subjects, and exerts her privileges as she wishes. She wishes to attract the attention of a lowly cadet, Fritz, sung by tenor Paul Appleby. Therein complications develop. Graham has appeared on the world’s great opera stages and concert halls. Her gift for comedy is well known from another Offenbach gem, La Belle Hélène, which she performed here in 2003.

The June 29 opening had Mozart’s, “The Marriage of Figaro,” in a revival of Jonathan Kent’s staging from 2008. In the title role is Zachary Nelson, in his first performance of the role. 

Tickets are available for all performances. The season runs until Aug. 24, and closes with Grand Duchess. Tickets and information are available online: santafeopera.org,  call 986-5900, toll free 800-280-4654 and during the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., in person at the box office. 

There are special rates for seniors, students, military personnel. Information is available on the website.