The Legacy of a Santa Fe Landmark

John Crosby the founder of the Santa Fe Opera.

John Crosby was born on this day on July 12, 1926 in Bronxville, New York. Crosby founded the Santa Fe Opera in 1956. For the next 43 years he was an integral part of its worldwide success. As a boy he suffered from asthma and was sent to the Los Alamos Ranch School. That early experience solidified his love of the west. After a stint in the army during World War II, Crosby moved to Santa Fe. He believed that the beautiful landscape surrounding the Santa Fe Opera provided a spiritual backdrop for opera.

Overcoming Adversity

During the 1967 premiere of Paul (Hindemith) Hindmit’s Cardillac a fire broke out and the stage burnt to the ground. 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 that location, which is currently the City of Santa Fe Tourism Center.

Twenty Years Later

John Crosby was the longest running general director of an opera company at the time of his death in 2002. It’s inaugural opera, Madame Butterfly, took place on July 3, 1957. Since that time, the Santa Fe Opera has become world renown for introducing new operas.. In the last 65 years the Santa Fe Opera has included both American and international premieres. Some of the world’s leading composers, like Igor Stravinsky, have performed at SFO. We are forever grateful to John Crosby for his vision and hard work that continues to enrich Santa Fe culture today. 

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