Santa Fe goes down

Santa Fe goes down


norman lebrecht

May 11, 2020

Message from general director Robert K Meya:


It is with profound sadness that I announce today that the Santa Fe Opera has been forced to cancel its 2020 Season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This difficult but necessary decision was made with the health and safety of our staff, artists, patrons and the entire Santa Fe community at the forefront of our thoughts.

Each year at this time, we begin to welcome over 600 additional staff members in preparation for our summer performances. Many of them now face an extremely difficult and uncertain future. It is with their welfare in mind that I announce our commitment to providing a level of compensation to all artists, musicians, artisans and seasonal staff who were engaged for the 2020 Season.

But, we can only do so with your help. I ask you to please support this commitment by donating the value of your tickets back to the Santa Fe Opera. With over $5 million in tickets already sold for the 2020 Season, this represents the single greatest financial challenge we currently face as well as the greatest opportunity for you to help during this time of unprecedented need. 

UPDATE: Santa Fe Music Festival is also off. It will make ‘partial payments’ to the contracted musicians.’


  • IntBaritone says:

    Sad, but I’m very surprised it took this long.

    Santa Fe brings in guest artists and patrons from all over the world. That is impossible in the current climate, unsustainable as an opera company, and potentially dangerous to everyone working there (outdoor rehearsal venues or not).

    It is one of the most marvelous places one can spend a summer working – mountain views from home, outdoor stages, delicious New Mexican food – and hopefully they can make it to the coming years.

    I bet Charles is feeling very good that he left the biz, indeed, and didn’t have to send this letter and video.

    • Arthur says:

      The “coming years”? What coming years?

      You don’t think these festivals are going to survive, do you?

      • DAVID says:

        You certainly seem to get a kick out of that notion, namely that classical music is essentially going to disappear. What’s so gratifying about that?

        • Arthur says:

          Nothing gratifying about it. It’s a cataclysmic loss, which makes it all the more offensive and irritating when people act like it’s a minor bit of weather that will blow over. A lot of observers on here and in the business seem to take this plenty-of-money-in-the-bank attitude like OP above, as though they were sipping a Tia Maria at an outdoor bar and clucking about what a shame it is to miss the outdoor stages and all the good New Mexican food. Give me a break. Do you think the part-time, no benefits staffers at the SFMF, not to mention the musicians and everyone else in the chain, are just going to wait around for you to finish your Tia Maria until we’re just lucky enough to have the overwhelming privilege of playing for you in the “coming years”?

          • IntBaritone says:

            Actually, yes, I do think Santa Fe Opera is going to survive (probably one of the few – but when we talk about US festivals, my guess is Santa Fe and OTSL survive). Santa Fe Opera even has other revenue streams beyond the opera (they collect rainwater on their roof and sell it to the city). This is a smart company, that has been hit with a tough time, as has the whole industry, but they will survive in some form.

            Have you read their 990? Have you looked at their balance sheet?

            You’re not a breath of fresh air, Arthur, nor a dose of reality. In fact, your Tia Maria takes seem to be wildly out of fashion and perhaps you should just sit down until you know what you’re talking about and let the grown ups do the work.


          • Arthur says:

            What do I care if my “takes” are “out of fashion”? You’re the one being condescending – and you have no idea who you might be talking to. Anyway, you sound like a singer, one I just suspect who might be flying the flags of certain other, shall we say, agendas. So as a singer, of course you’re inclined to hope an opera would survive – though even you admit SF would be one of the few. One of the few? So it’s not about 990’s. It’s about the people who won’t be coming out to listen, and won’t becoming back to donate. Enjoy that Tia Maria. Or perhaps a “Cosmo” is more your “fashion”? “Periodt”?

          • Intbaritone says:

            Correction. I was a singer. And I know who I’m talking to – but I prefer to keep my posts profanity free.

            Cosmos were 90s btw. Live in the now, boomer.

  • Arthur says:

    One could copy and paste the litanies of regret from any one arts administrator’s cancellation statement into any other and no one would notice if you just changed the name of the cancelling party. Woe is me cried the classical music world! It’s completely incapable of surviving when the carefully balanced house of cards of subscriptions, endless floods of $55k/year conservatory students with no real job prospects, and largely older white audience, gets a little reality check from Mother Nature.

    • DAVID says:

      Your statement, far from being confined to classical music, is equally applicable to many of the household names one might have thought would be able to weather this storm — some of the biggest names among clothes retailers, airlines, hotel chains, restaurant chains, department stores, are already on the brink of bankruptcy (some have actually already filed). It so happens that even companies generating hundred of millions of dollars of revenue each year cannot even survive a 60 day hiatus in business activity, as noted recently one of the most important hedge fund managers on Wall Street. It seems that Mother Nature might be sending us a powerful message about the sustainability of our entire economic system — not just the tiny place in it occupied by classical music. If we are able to learn anything from this whole experience, I hope it will be a capacity for a little more empathy, which sadly is still sorely lacking.

      • Arthur says:

        Great, here’s a big pile of empathy for you to pick at lazily, perhaps with some guacamole and chips, while you sit back with a drink and ponder the ways of the world. How does that empathy taste? Can you sell it? Eat it? Yeah.

    • TIM HOPSON says:

      Arthur has a point with the Mother Nature reality check.

      • DAVID says:

        No, he doesn’t. His only point was that Mother Nature was teaching a lesson to classical music. The real point, however, is that Mother Nature, by preventing free market exchange through the imperative of social distancing, is actually teaching a lesson to every single business on earth, and I would think even more so to any business whose activity has been decimated during this crisis — in other words, the overwhelming majority of businesses. If you think it’s bad for classical music, think how bad it is for airlines which have cut their business by 97% and think how bad it will be for the foreseeable future, until a medical solution can be found. The same applies to restaurants, movie theaters, coffee houses — essentially any business depending on people congregating and interacting in close proximity, which is essentially ALL of them. Why single out classical music then?

        • Arthur says:

          Yeah this is a classical music blog. We will single out classical music therefore. Keep whining while you suck on that Tia Maria.

      • John says:

        Sad to say he does have a point on some of his comments. This is a classical music blog and that is why he is picking on the classical music industry. At the same time, if you want to see the comments about how United Airlines or Boeing failed to take proper precautions then read

    • John Borstlap says:

      It’s not a reality check from Mother Nature.

      It is a revenge action by Chinese bats for seeing so many of their family members ending-up in the soup.

  • Pat says:

    The Utah Festival Opera has also cancelled for this season.

  • Straussian says:

    It was inevitable given the current situation, but sad just the same. Had been attending almost every summer for the last twenty-two years, and was so looking forward to their first Tristan und Isolde. But it was not to be! Let’s hope and pray for a better tomorrow…

  • Jeff says:

    As a professional classical musician, it pains me (somewhat humorously actually) to see how many absolutely stupid and miserable people support our profession and our organizations. It’s a miracle that classical music has survived with this much negativity surrounding it. I say all of this somewhat facetiously of course.

  • It’s the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival that also cancelled its season.