The Santa Fe Opera

The Santa Fe Opera logo

Every July and August since 1957, opera lovers have been drawn to the magnificent northern New Mexico mountains to enjoy productions by one of America’s premier summer opera festivals. Here, The Santa Fe Opera’s dramatic adobe theater blends harmoniously with the high desert landscape. It is this fusion of nature and art that leaves such an enduring impression on all who come. […]


The Santa Fe Opera has taken its place among the world’s leading opera festivals. Its mission is to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality in a unique setting with a varied repertoire of new, rarely performed, and standard works; to ensure the excellence of opera’s future through apprentice programs for singers, technicians and arts administrators; and to foster and enrich an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public.  (The Santa Fe Opera)

The Santa Fe Opera has a wide array of education and community outreach programs to make opera accessible and appealing to a broad spectrum of the New Mexico population and visitors. It also offers apprenticeship opportunities to teach aspiring opera performers, technicians and arts administrators the craft.

Of course, it excels at its main function — the opera presents some wonderful productions! Visit their website to learn about upcoming performances and to obtain tickets.

The Crosby Theatre

Santa Fe Opera Open Air Theatre (Credit: Wikipedia)

Santa Fe Opera Open Air Theatre (Credit: Wikipedia)

The Santa Fe Opera performances are held in the beautiful Crosby Theatre.

The striking, state-of-the-art, open-air theater has won several important design awards and is widely recognized for blending contemporary design aesthetics with traditional building materials. It commands a panorama of breathtaking scenery, with the Jemez Mountains to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east.  […] The “shape of the sound” inspired the roof concept. Its curves directly follow the acoustic reflections of sound from the stage to the audience.  (The Santa Fe Opera)

Wherever you enjoy a show in the theatre, every seat or standing position offers an Opera Titles screen—a digital computer screen on which instantaneous translations in English and Spanish are broadcast to provide a richer experience for those who may not understand the language of the performance they are viewing.

Learn more and see performance schedules on The Santa Fe Opera’s website: The opera is located at 301 Opera Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87506-2823. Find it on the map below.

Santa Fe Culture: Past Meets Future

Past Meets Future (Travel + Leisure)

Becoming Human, a 30-foot-tall sculpture by Christian Ristow, greets visitors to the House of Eternal Return. Brian Finke (Source: “Past Meets Future”, Travel + Leisure)

The city’s carefully constructed image as a mecca of Southwestern-themed art, turquoise jewelry, and folksy spiritualism has lately begun to evolve, thanks to a group of oddball artists and entrepreneurs who insist on seeing their hometown differently. (Source: Amanda Fortini, “In Santa Fe, the Past Meets the Future”Travel + Leisure)

In this Travel + Leisure article, Fortini explains how the cultural identity of Santa Fe was deliberately crafted to portray its Southwestern aesthetic to encourage tourism — “the idea was to give the city a historic regional identity and the patina of an exotic travel destination.” It has worked well and the city does attract many travelers and it has even become one of the best known art destinations in the United States. However, some felt that the the art styles being promoted and encouraged were only those that fit with the theme already embraced as the Santa Fe style and limited the possibilities of new art styles. That has recently begun to change.

Using a new installation created by the company Meow Wolf as an ultimate example of the new artistic movement, Fortini describes The House of Eternal Return “as a haunted house without the monsters, an amusement park without the rides, an acid trip without the drugs,” it is both an abstract visual experience and has a mysterious narrative waiting to be explored. The complex that contains this feature also has studios, offices, and a youth-education center. Although not like the “traditional” art of Santa Fe this destination is drawing in the crowds and is showcasing the fact that Santa Fe can be this blend of old and new styles and doesn’t need to be stuck with a singular identity.

Fortini also explores some other traditions that are being played with, updated, or ignored including what is seen as art by Native Americans that doesn’t need to “look like” Native American art and in the category of culinary “art” the popular chiles of Santa Fe.

The article also discusses the issue of an aging population of Santa Fe residents, and what some are doing to try to develop policies and activities to help attract and keep a youth population, like encouraging more night life (as there is a lack) that would be available for and of interest to a younger crowd.

The article also ends with a list of recommendations of both places embracing the traditional and others the new, so check it out: “In Santa Fe, the Past Meets the Future.”

Violet Crown Santa Fe

Violet Crown Santa Fe: Santa Fe spin-off of Austin-based cinema

Violet Crown Santa Fe (Source: Santa Fe Reporter)

I’m pleased to report on our thoroughly enjoyable evening at Violet Crown Santa Fe (Santa Fe Railyard, 1606 Alcaldesa Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, 505-216-5678, last night. Here’s the skinny.

Violet Crown Santa Fe’s 11 auditoriums feature state of the art technology, wall-to-wall screens, and large and luxurious cinema chairs. (Source: Violet Crown Cinema, Santa Fe )

Too skinny! Aside from the excellent location, the food (and refreshments) are what sets this cinema apart. Here are a few of my reactions after an enjoyable first visit.

Food+Film Fusion in Santa Fe Railyard

Violet Crown Santa Fe is located adjacent to Santa Fe Farmers Market in Santa Fe’s Railyard District, ideal walking distance from Adobe Oasis. (If you’d rather drive, you can park for free (4-hour max) in The Railyard parking garage. Just bring your parking ticket to the cinema and request validation.) It was cold, so we drove. But next next we’ll walk to burn off the calories…

No, not a jumbo bucket of popcorn with ersatz butter. Local food. Tasty local food.

I started with the brussel sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are… flash-fried for crispy outer leaves and lightly lacquered in a sweet-tart apple-cider gastrique, but ours needed some par-cooking — their tough, overly firm centers made for onerous chewing. (Source: Laurel Gladden, Santa Fe New Mexican)

Mine were tasty (I added bacon which complemented the garlic, red onion, and apple cider gastric perfectly) but likewise undercooked. Almost impossible to skewer with my fork, especially in the dark. I’ll order them again next time, but I’ll request that they pre-steam or parboil mine.

I also ordered the chicken flautas which were crispy and even tastier than I had anticipated. I kept wondering if cheese had been added despite being absent from the ingredients listed on the menu:

All natural chipotle chicken rolled in New Mexico blue corn tortillas, quick fried until crisp, with guacamole and jicama salad. (Source: Violet Crown Cinema, Santa Fe )

They were delicious, but the texture and richness of the chipotle chicken suggested cheese. I’ve been dairy free for several years, so perhaps it was just my mind playing games. Next time I’ll ask before I order. And if there’s no cheese I’ll order again. And again. They were that good. Perfect movie noshes!

I washed everything down with Santa Sidra dry cider which they offer on draft in addition to dozens of other local brews. This is luxury enough, a vast selection of microbrewer beer to lubricate your next film. Win-win.

Reservations, Seating & Timing

We discovered dining tables that folded out (à la airplane dining) and generously proportioned drink holders.

No more waiting in line unless you relish pre-film banter against a backdrop of popcorn and french fry aroma. Violet Crown Santa Fe seats are all reserved (Bonus: no scrambling in the dark for good seats!) online (in advance) or at the cinema. We purchased our tickets online and it was quick, easy, and user friendly. You even get to pick your own seats. By reserving and paying online we were able to skip the ticket line and head straight to the food ordering counter.

Since it can take a little time to prepare your meal, Violet Crown Santa Fe recommends arriving about 45 minutes before screening in order to ensure that your drinks and meal are ready for you to bring in to the theater. We bumped into friends while waiting and enjoyed a drink together. We refueled just as our meals were delivered and headed in to see The Big Short. We located our comfortable chairs and happily discovered dining tables that folded out (à la airplane dining) and generously proportioned drink holders that easily accommodated our pints.

Innovation & Reinvention

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so you’ve realized that movie theaters are struggling to adapt to new consumer habits. The convenience and accessibility of on-demand digital entertainment has cut into once standard go-to-the-movies habit of many Americans. Despite the superior viewing experience of a large screen with great sound, I frequently find myself one of only a handful of viewers in an immense theater. Violet Crown Santa Fe responds to this social shift by combining comfort, fresh films, local food, and lots of libations.

Railyard’s new Violet Crown ups the ante for films in SF

Railyard’s new Violet Crown ups the ante for films in SF (Source: Albuquerque Journal)

“We’re trying to marry the two things” – food and film – “in the most pleasant viewing experience we can imagine,” said Bill Banowsky. “We want to give people a reason to get off their couches and come down to our cinema,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge for theaters anymore… You really have to change the experience so that people really have a reason to go out to a movie.” (Source: Albuquerque Journal)

In short, Violet Crown Santa Fe is reimagining the cinema experience.

Like every other industry reeling from the effects of globalization and a dizzying pace of technological innovation, cinema is in the midst of reinvention. Jacques Paisner, executive director and co-founder of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival… said Violet Crown’s opening is a harbinger of the city’s willingness to evolve accordingly. (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican)

Smaller, more intimate viewing rooms combined with good food and drink seems like the perfect way to reinvent movie theaters. I’m thrilled with this newest Railyard addition, and my bride and I are already plotting our next visit. See you at Violet Crown Santa Fe!