Thinking back, as January invites us to do, my mind leaps to Santa Fe Opera as the high point of the year. Not just because I discovered and fell in love with an opera, but because the pleasure of culture was joined by another pleasure to create a memorable feast. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: “Opera and food, food and opera, both excellent things.”

When you take in 6 operas in 8 days, do you need to eat? The cultural high of such an “orgy” doesn’t need much more than nibbles. On every patio at Santa Fe Opera we (my life companion Kim and I) found champagne, coffee, nuts and sweets, and in addition, at a newly opened area with café tables we could get a decent vegie wrap or a tenderly, one could almost say, artistically assembled box of cheeses, crackers and fruit. At the periphery, a higher-end restaurant served dinners plus pre-performance lectures, but most popular was the vast parking area where tailgate picnics offered all-round views of the mesa and its dramatic sunsets. The summer festival, now in its 60th year, is famous for its top quality productions (often outplaying the Met and SF Opera) and for its summer storms. With its bold architecture and open stage, lightning and thunderclaps were “side dishes” to the feast.

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