The year of 1967 was a memorable one for the Santa Fe Opera. During the premiere of Paul Hindemith’s Cardillac a fire broke out and the stage was burned to the ground. The opera director, John Crosby, negotiated with the Santa Fe School Board to host its next production of The Barber of Seville at Santa Fe High’s Sweeney Gym. In a serendipitous turn of fate, a capacity crowd of 1,300 locals attended the performance in a show of support. The performance drew favorable reviews in both The New York Times and Musical America magazine. The Opera performed the remainder of the season at the Santa Fe High School gym. The former gym was located on Marcy Street where the City of Santa Fe Tourism Center is located today.
Genesis of the Santa Fe Opera
The Santa Fe Opera, located 7 miles north of the capital city, was founded in 1956 by John Crosby. He retained the position of director until the year 2000. Crosby, who died in 2002, had the unique distinction as being the longest running general director of an opera company in the United States. Crosby also conducted many of the operas at Santa Fe’s breathtaking outdoor venue. A production of Puccini‘s Madama Butterfly was the inaugural opera that took place on July 3, 1957. Since that time, Santa Fe’s opera house has become world renown for introducing new operas, as well as beloved operas from past centuries. In the last 49 years the opera company has produced both American and international premieres. The world’s leading performers, musicians and conductors, including Igor Stavinsky, have performed at the Santa Fe Opera.