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Santa fE Opera

Meet Santa Fe Opera

The Santa Fe Opera’s inaugural performance was Puccini’s Madama Butterfly on July 3, 1957. The opera company was founded by John Crosby, a New York based conductor, with support from his parents. Crosby’s vision was to present a variety of operas each season: a mix of popular operas, an American or world premiere, and a rarely performed work — a programming model the company maintains to this day.

The original opera building seated 480 people, but it was destroyed by fire in 1967. Only one performance was missed before everything moved to a high school theater for the remainder of the season. The second theater opened in June of the next year with Madama Butterfly. It was used until the current theater, named for the Crosby family, again opened with a performance of Madama Butterfly in 1998. In addition to a tradition, perhaps the idea of something new springing into life was part of the reason for the choice of operas.