The Santa Fe Opera holds a soft spots in our hearts and is the main reason for our annual travels to the Land of Enchantment, along with 58-degree nights, which doesn’t hurt. These two reasons combined to create a perfect experience under the stars with the horizon going as far as the eye can see. The Santa Fe Opera is an open-air amphitheater located a bit north of the city on a high view point and is surrounded by the rolling hills of New Mexico’s minimalists landscape, masterfully painted by the descending sun. People get there early and indulge in casual dining in the parking lot. Tailgating here is bit more sophisticated as among other generic items like folding chairs and folding tables, it includes small but very pleasant attributes of civilization like nice wine, nice wine glasses, flowers and candles.
This summer we attended the The Impresario by Mozart and Le Rossignol (Nightingale) by Stravinsky both one-act operas presented in the same evening. The Impresario is a sort of a backstage farce displaying the “joys” of producing an opera and included of course, opera divas at their best as well as a “very favorite” part of all performing arts institutions – THE FUNDRAISING. Let me tell you, this business has not changed much in the last few centuries. The production director brilliantly connected these two very different operas. He moved an Impresario from the Mozart’s time to the fin de siecle in Paris and turned it into live auditioning for Le Rossignol premiered by Diaghilev in Paris in 1914. So Diaghilev became a central character of Mozart’s opera that was written about two centuries too soon – The Impresario himself!
Nightingale, sophisticated and incredibly beautiful was a stark contrast to the corny diva auditions in The Impresario with the same divas performing divinely during the Nightingale after the intermission. The burlesque display of arrogant coloraturas played against the unashamedly buxom mezzo Frau Krone in The Impresario was reconciled by the purity of a high art in Nightingale. The set was truly a multimedia display of creative thinking utilizing modern technology allowing the nightingale to fly and a Miro-like painting to be drawn in real-time on the entire stage set. It added a totally new dimension to the opera. Stravinsky, Diaghilev and their connection to the rich Bohemian arts scene of Paris in the first quarter of the 20th century came to life in this brilliant production – The Golden Age of the modern art-my very favorite art movement!
I saw many Russians in the audience, good-looking, well dressed and sophisticated. I felt proud to be a part of this great culture; Diaghilev, Stravinsky, high arts. In a long line to the restroom during the intermission one of the very friendly ladies asked where my lovely accent was from. I said it is Russian and for the first time in my 23 years in US, I felt that people did not know how to communicate with me. There was a passenger plane shot down on the Russian Ukrainian border a few days ago and I am just as disgusted as the rest of the world. And I have a very good idea who did it and I do know that this was a fatal mistake and I do know that it will take a very long time to heal this in the backstage of the world politics. I do not know how proud I am at the moment for my Russian roots.
Thank goodness for the arts, or the world would be one very depressing place to be.
PS While I was looking for pictures on line I stumbled onto this review.