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Igor Stravinsky in Santa Fe

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Igor Stravinsky at the Santa Fe Opera.

Igor Stravinsky was one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He was born on this day on June 17, 1882. The infant was christened two months later in St. Petersburg at Nikolsky Cathedral. Stravinsky’s career in the world of music was preordained. His father, Fyodor Stravinsky, was an opera singer with the Kyiv Opera and the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. During his formative years Stravinsky attended his father’s rehearsals and performances. He began taking piano lessons when he was nine and discovered an interest in ballet after seeing a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

World Renowned Yet Hard at Work

The Russian maestro was already 75 and world renowned when he accepted John Crosby’s invitation to come to Santa Fe. His composition, “The Rakes Progress,” was part of the Santa Fe Opera’s inaugural season in 1957. Unfortunately, as Stravinsky sat in the audience on the opening night of his performance it was postponed because of rain in the open air theater. But the weather didn’t dampen Stravinsky’s enthusiasm for the young opera company.

The composer continued working with Crosby for the next five years. He attended all of his operas through 1963. Stravinsky’s support during the opera’s formative years solidified its reputation. Today, the Santa Fe Opera is one of the most respected institutions in the world of music. A bust of Igor Stravinsky is located on the Stravinsky Terrace at the Santa Fe Opera. It is there that opera lovers continue to pay tribute to the man who shared his genius, not only with the world, but with Santa Fe.