As I sit writing this blog, I am blessed by a view of McCall, Idaho’s Payette lake. I am reminded of my first copy of “The Portable Nietzsche”; the small, yellow “used” sticker somehow complimenting the cover picture of majestic mountains sitting behind a still lake—both blanketed by a low, cold mist. At the time I bought it, as a freshman in college, I felt touched by the vast loneliness it portrayed when faced with the largeness of life. As time has gone by, and I have been exposed to art and music speaking to the very question of our relationship to that largeness, that picture has grown to represent the peaceful stillness that can offset the drama of life—a quiet, yet deep lake resting beneath a millennia of tension and explosion in the mountains. Years later, I thirstily read “Nietzsche Contra Wagner” wherein he poses the idea of music being God’s expression, and Opera, specifically, providing the strongest bridge to that world due to its all-encompassing nature -- the marriage of music, poetry, acting, and visual design. (Caveat: these are not the whole ideas of the book and I most certainly may be completely wrong)
To that end, The Santa Fe Opera showcases a collection of operas whose themes express the human quest for understanding their role in the universe. The season begins, Friday, June 27, with “Carmen” -fate, freedom, passion, control, jealousy, infidelity - all of which speak to some of the darker struggles we all face. “Don Pasquale” provides a reprieve, lightening the perspective: a romantic romp exploring young love mired by family intervention. Beethoven’s “Fidelio” follows with the universal and timeless portrayal of political strife and heroism. Mozart’s “Impresario” enlivens the season with a witty “life imitates art” story focusing on rivalry and the stress of the hotel business…uh, I mean music business. Finally, and in the tradition of the Santa Fe Opera to reveal something brand new, “Dr. Sun Yat-Sen” makes its American debut, touching on national identity following years of old-world tradition.
I do no justice describing the Operas, but only hope to give broad brush strokes demonstrating the rounded discussion of life’s challenges, both small and large, that this season has. Even if the themes elude you or bore you, the striking architecture of Santa Fe’s open air stage and the backdrop of our multi-colored sunsets coupled with the occasional poetic cloudburst make the experience itself a reminder of life’s sublime drama.
I am further impelled to mention that at last count, opening night is nearly sold out, or even may be at this point. I recommend you stop reading my blog right now and get on line to get tickets for whichever story speaks to you.
As always, I wish you health and prosperity. SamG of the Inn of the Governors.