Discover the lush gardens at the Santa Fe Opera

On a recent crystal clear Wednesday we went to breakfast at the Santa Fe Opera. This is a yearly event for the local hospitality industry group that meets once a month. When we were invitee to stroll through the Opera’s gardens, a place outsiders generally don’t get to visit, we jumped on it. Camera in hand, Steve recorded our informal tour.

Santa Fe Opera photo Robert Godwin, courtesy Santa Fe Opera

Santa Fe Opera, photo/Robert Godwin courtesy Santa Fe Opera

The Santa Fe Opera’s founder, conductor John Crosby, purchased San Juan Ranch in 1956. The almost 200 acre property had been a guest ranch. The original ranch buildings, used as artist housing during the Opera’s early years, now serve as the administrative offices. The Santa Fe Opera’s first season was in 1957. The original building burned down in 1968. The current opera house, with its breathtaking sunset and mountain views and superb acoustics, was built in 1998. Over the years they have added rehearsal halls and other buildings.

Dapples Pavilion at Santa Fe Opera photo Steve Collins

Dine at the pre-opera buffet at the Dapples Pavilion, photo/Steve Collins

Breakfast was served at the Dapples Pavilion where the Opera offers attendees a buffet dinner on performance nights. This is very popular and fills up early. Advance reservations are a must. It is also where the opera staff is fed daily.

Swimming pool, photo Steve Collins

The swimming pool at the Santa Fe Opera boasts wonderful views photo/Steve Collins

Adjacent to the Dapples Pavilion is the kidney-shaped pool reserved for Opera employees and their guests. It’s perfectly sited to advantage of the panoramic Sangre de Christo mountain views to the east.

A crowd of happy flowers greet you in the garden.

Black eyed Susans at the Santa Fe Opera photo Steve Collins

Black eyed Susans abound, photo/Steve Collins

Orpheus reaches for Euridice in Donna Quasthoff’s 1962 sculpture.

Donna Quasthoff's Orpheus and Euridice at Santa Fe Opera photo Steve Collins

Stop and look at Donna Quasthoff’s “Orpheus and Euridice”, photo/Steve Collins

As we strolled down the path, we saw the beautifully maintained gardens dotted with rehearsal halls and other buildings. The abundant plantings in the beautifully landscaped area are maintained with gray water.

Path to a practice room at the Santa Fe Opera photo Steve Collins

Stieren Pavilion is one of the rehearsal studios sited around the gardens, photo/Steve Collins

Sculptures and benches placed around the grounds provide contemplative seating areas throughout the gardens.

Sculpture at Santa Fe Opera Gardens photo Steve Collins

An inviting garden  area, photo/Steve Collins

The good news is that you can tour the gardens. The Opera Ranch tour is offered on the last Friday of June, July and August at 10am. It includes Meet the Artist component where. The ranch tour is $12. You can combine the ranch tour with the Backstage Tour offered Monday through Friday at 9am. The combined tour cost $20. On Saturdays, Opera Guild members host a free event at 8:30am. Enjoy coffee and muffins and learn about a one aspect of the Santa Fe Opera from an opera insider followed by a complimentary backstage tour.  No reservations are required any of the tours. Just arrive at the box office at the specified time.

Unknown, photo Steve Collins

O’Shaughnessy Hall, another rehearsal spot, is set against a mountain backdrop , photo/Steve Collins

Going to the Santa Fe Opera for a performance is a wonderful experience. Whether you attend one or more of the season’s five operas or not, take these special tours and get a behind the scenes look at one of the premier opera companies in the world.

Colorful doorway at Santa Fe Opera photo Steve Collins

Colorful doorway in one of the original San Juan Ranch buildings now offices, photo/Steve Collins

For more on the Santa Fe Opera, read our post, A night and more at the Santa Fe Opera.

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4 Responses to “Discover the lush gardens at the Santa Fe Opera”

  1. patti
    August 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    These photos are so pretty and the ranch sounds like a very special place.

    • Billie Frank
      August 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

      Thanks, Patti! It was lovely in the opera gardens!

  2. Leigh
    August 15, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    I am not an opera fan but I would definitely like to see one in Santa Fe – and my mother-in-law who loves opera and is now 81 would still like to see one in Santa Fe so it might happen yet. Lucky you with a behind the scenes look at the gardens.

    • Billie Frank
      August 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

      It’s an amazing place to see an opera- the sunsets behind the stage for a wow moment. And sometimes there are thunder storms. I remember a peal of thunder that almost drove me from my seat and the soprano kept on singing. If you time that visit right, you too can take that garden tour.

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