Santa Fe, NM — The Santa Fe Opera’s General Director Robert K. Meya announced today the company’s exciting return to the stage in 2021 with the repertory, principal singers, conductors, directors and designers scheduled for its 64th Season. The announcement was streamed from The Crosby Theatre’s open-air stage. Joining Meya was Production Director Chelsea Antrim Dennis. Dennis detailed how this year, instead of building sets, costumes and props for opera, she and the opera’s production crew joined the Costume Shop staff in sewing face masks and 1,000 re-usable medical gowns for the healthcare workers at CHRISTUS St. Vincent and the Navajo Nation. Said Dennis, “It has been an honor to create an extra layer of protection to help keep the most essential members of our community safe, and there is no doubt that we will continue to support our community in every way we can, even as we start to shift our focus to the production designs for next season.”
A SAFE & SUCCESSFUL RETURN TO THE STAGE
Addressing audiences directly, Meya first thanked the Board of Directors, led by President David Henry Jacobs and Chairman Susan G. Marineau; Artistic Director Alexander Neef; Music Director Harry Bicket; and the opera’s dedicated staff for their shared optimism and steadfast determination to bring opera back to the stage and communities of northern New Mexico. He then shared his thoughts on the pandemic and the healing power of live music, stating, “The pandemic has been tragic and it’s not over yet. But after everything we have lived through this past year, the arts, and in particular the experience of live music, will be more important than ever before.” It is with this goal in mind that the Santa Fe Opera is tirelessly preparing for its 2021 Season.
Meya confirmed that all of the opera’s plans for a safe and successful reopening are being made in close collaboration with government officials, as well as experts in epidemiology, sanitization and public health. The company has established a Reopening Advisory Group, composed of members of the Board of Directors, staff and community experts in public health. The group is charged with reviewing every step of the audience journey to ensure that protocols are based on the latest science and recommendations from public health officials. The opera plans to implement a ticketless entry system in order to minimize points of contact and to stagger the arrival time of attendees, thus minimizing wait time and limiting congregation of patrons in common areas.
Detailing the company’s evolving strategy for protecting the safety of audiences and all who visit and work at the Santa Fe Opera, Meya stated, “We are making investments to bring our campus to the highest level of safety. When you arrive at the Santa Fe Opera next summer, many things will look different. You can expect acrylic shields in all public-facing locations, electrostatic disinfection of high-traffic areas, campus-wide hand sanitizing stations, enhanced ventilation and air purification in elevators and restrooms, social-distancing markers and safety signage throughout. We are also exploring the installation of no-touch facilities for all public restrooms.” Perhaps the most significant safety feature is one that has defined the Santa Fe Opera experience since 1957. The outdoor, open-air nature of The Crosby Theatre allows for continuous airflow. All available research indicates that transmission of the virus is far less likely in an open-air setting.
In addition to its unique venue, the Santa Fe Opera is renowned for its intensive rehearsal period and resulting artistic excellence. Rehearsals require artists, directors and musicians to gather together, creating a high degree of human contact. In order to preserve artistic integrity while at the same time protecting its artists and staff, the company has made the decision to reduce the 2021 Season from five operas to four. This move lessens the overall rehearsal period, allows for more time between rehearsals and performances for cleaning and sanitization, and reduces the overall density of people on campus.
Additionally, the company will not be offering Preview Dinners, Backstage Tours, or any donor events on campus next season, and its Cantina will remain closed. Said Meya, “We invite patrons to enjoy a picnic in the parking lot from the comfort of their own vehicle and at a safe distance from others; and we hope that 2021 will create lasting memories for our iconic tailgaters.”
Meya announced the opera’s new partnership with CHRISTUS St. Vincent as part of its careful strategy development for protecting artists and staff. He underlined that the opera intends to offer on-site routine testing for artists and musicians and that all personnel coming from out-of-state will be required to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival and will undergo testing before being permitted to report to work. All employees will be assigned categories prescribing testing frequency and limits on interactions. Further, the company will be asking all patrons, prior to arrival, to conduct a “self screening” based on wellness standards established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Said Meya, “If you are feeling unwell, we ask that you stay home. Our Box Office will be ready to discuss your ticket options for returning once you’re feeling better.” Meya concluded, “This is an evolving strategy and we will continue to update you as we approach next summer. I extend our deepest thanks to Lillian Montoya, James Marx and the entire team at CHRISTUS St. Vincent for their invaluable assistance and expertise in developing the reopening plan for the Santa Fe Opera.”
For more information, visit santafeopera.org