Jonathan Pell, Summer of Opera, Part 17

by Megan Meister

I have been coming to the Santa Fe Opera for nearly forty years, and there is a good reason that they call New Mexico “the land of enchantment.”  It is a magical place,  and even on those rare occasions when the performances are a little disappointing, the setting is always extraordinary.

From the very beginning the company, which was founded in 1957 by John Crosby, the same year that The Dallas Opera was launched by Larry Kelly and Nicola Rescigno,  has made it their  mission to establish an apprentice program to help train young singers and backstage technicians.

Every year literally hundreds of singers audition around the country for approximately 40 openings, and these young artists become the chorus for the summer, serve as understudies for leading roles and appear in two fully  staged concerts of opera scenes.

I always try to come for the week which is bookended by  the Apprentice Concerts, where I often spot for the first time a gifted young singer just getting his or her career started.

Sunday evening was the first of the two apprentice programs (each one is made up of eight extended scenes, and so offer a real showcase for all of them.)

Alas, the first program on Sunday didn’t reveal any standout performance, but there were a few very promising singers.

Next Sunday’s program will feature different scenes and different young artists, so maybe there will be someone truly memorable.  The roster of opera houses around the world are full of former Santa Fe apprentices, so I am optimistic that there will be one or two star making performances next Sunday.

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