Off to Santa Fe

Posted by: Andrew

Off to Santa Fe - 08/02/12 07:16 PM

Tomorrow, Friday - travel by train to Manchester Airport where I stay overnight

Saturday - flight to Chicago, then to Dallas/Fort Worth, then to Albuquerque.

Sunday - recover from jetlag, link up with friends arriving in the evening, travel to Santa Fe in hired car.

Monday - meet up with people I met some years ago at the Ring in Seattle, then to Strauss's Arabella.

Tuesday to Thursday: more operas - Rossini's Maometto II, Szymanowski's King Roger, plus exploring the area (I've never been to New Mexico before but my friends know all about it).

Friday - jetlagged back to York via Chicago and Manchester.

Should be interesting.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/03/12 03:56 PM

Wow. And exhausting, especially toward the end. I thought jet lag happened only when you're traveling west to east.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/03/12 09:21 PM

Have fun.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/06/12 10:26 PM

Try to find a little time to sightsee around Santa is a fascinating place, and one of the earlier western settlements....Also a great artist mecca...George O'Keefe used to hang out there...
Posted by: Kay

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/06/12 10:27 PM

There used to be a mesa you could climb to reach a Native American pueblo...but that was when I was a teenager....I think they are all hanging out selling blankets around town now.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/06/12 10:28 PM

And I don't imagine climbing a mesa would fit into your schedule anyway.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/06/12 10:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Austin
Wow. And exhausting, especially toward the end. I thought jet lag happened only when you're traveling west to east.

I've always found the East-West lag worse...
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/09/12 12:30 AM

Kay, you're lagging backwards. wink

I never even heard of those two operas. Andrew, when you're back, tell us whether they were worth so long a trip.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/09/12 10:31 PM

They are new to me also. Looking forward to hearing about them.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/16/12 01:45 AM

C'mon, Andrew, we know you're back. How were the two kings?
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/16/12 06:32 AM

Well, it was all very interesting and mostly new to me. The nearest I'd ever previously been to New Mexico (leaving aside Dallas Fort Worth airport) was Memphis and New Orleans. A day in Albuquerque wasn't very interesting, but once my friends arrived and we settled in at the Old Santa Fe Inn everything took a turn for the better, starting with a nice dinner at La Casa Sena. Next day (Monday) some orientation and sightseeing followed by an early dinner and then the opera house (very impressive) and Strauss's Arabella.

This opera is pretty familiar - I've seen it three or four times and have a recording. Erin Wall was absolutely perfect in the title-role. Mark Delavan started off as a rather woolly Mandryka but improved as things went on and there were strong performances by Heidi Stober (Zdenka, dressed in a suit but, unusually, with no long hair to let down in the last act to prove that she was really a girl), Zach Borichevsky as a strong Matteo rather than the usual wimp and a very good Adelaide from Victoria Livengood. Sir Andrew Davis's conducting was just right (he could probably do it with his eyes shut).

I'll get on to the two kings this afternoon (after I've cashed in my surplus dollars).
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/16/12 02:09 PM

Tuesday was Maometto II day, preceded by another 5.30 dinner at Geronimo, the best of the restaurants at which we ate. This is a rather obscure tragic opera by Rossini, and it had a complicated history. After the premiere in Naples, it was revised, with a happy ending, for the Venetian carnival, and later it was turned into a French opera, Le siège de Corinthe, and again a tragedy. Santa Fe performed the original version with some additional amendments made later by the composer.

Maometto is based on Mehmed II (1432-1481), the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, which he established after capturing Constantinople. The action takes place on the large island of Euboea, then occupied by the Venetians and called Negroponte, off the east coast of Greece. Maometto captured it in 1476 after besieging it.

The plot involves the island's governor, Paolo Erisso, his daughter Anna (who had unknowingly been in love with Maometto when he courted her in Corinth under an assumed name) and his young general, Calbo (a breeches role), who loves Anna. The Turks duly invade and capture Anna, who now rejects Maometto and escapes. Erisso and Calbo meet her in secret, she marries Calbo but also enables him and her father to escape the Turks and continue to fight. Maometto again approaches Anna, but she stabs herself.

Typical opera plot! It was quite long (about 3 hours) and very static, especially in the second half, mostly dominated by Anna. The big numbers in the first act are the lengthy cavatina for Maometto's first appearance (breaking down a wall made of polystyrene to arrive on stage for the first time) and an even lengthier trio for Erisso, Anna and Calbo. The latter has a big aria in the second act. Maometto was Luca Pisarone (seen by me as Leporello at Glyndebourne), Erisso was Bruce Sledge, Calbo was British mezzo Patricia Bardon whom I've seen in numerous roles and Anna was Leah Crocetto who seems to be on the way up. The production was by David Alden and the conductor was Frédéric Chaslin. There was only one set, adjusted a bit here and there - the seat-back libretto told us where each scene was set!

Worth seeing, but there are better serious Rossini operas, IMO.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/16/12 05:43 PM

On Wednesday there was a performance of Tosca, so we had a day off. My friends suggested a trip to Los Alamos and beyond, so that's what we did. The museum there was interesting, and there was a grainy old film featuring Churchill, FDR, Oppenheimer and others, plus the hush-hush nature of the Manhattan Project - to the extent that the birth certificates of children born to the scientists and their wives were registered to a Post Office box in Santa Fe (next day we visited the ex-Post Office, which is now an emporium full of plastic flowers, but there's a plaque there commemorating it). Then we went for a drive through the hills and plains (elks and prairie dogs).

Thursday evening was King Roger (in Polish: Krol Roger, apparently pronounced Król Rohguh or thereabouts) by Szymanowski, who started composing it in 1918 and had it premiered in 1926. It's quite different from the two other Polish operas that I've seen, Stanislaw Moniuszko's 1865 The Haunted Manor (a comedy), and Roman Statkowski's Maria (1904), a drama.

The opera has a sort of mystical feel - a mysterious charismatic shepherd visits the King (we're talking about 12th century Sicily) who first rejects him (as do the people) but, after his wife Roxana shows her interest in his message, he summons him to his room for a private conversation. In Act 2, the shepherd brings his followers, who dance, and he departs with Roxana and Roger's people. Roger throws down the trappings of office and sets off to find them. In Act 3, in the ruins of an ancient theatre, Roxana appears and encourages Roger to listen to the shepherd and engage in his rites. Everyone except Roger's adviser, Edrisi, departs, and when the sun comes up, Roger feels purified.

Altogether, fairly weird, with elements of oratorio (there is a large chorus). The three Acts are supposedly Byzantine, Arabic-Indian and Ancient Greek. The music was pretty powerful, but difficult to describe - Wagnerian fin-de-siècle, perhaps? It was performed without intervals and lasted for only ninety minutes. The version described above differs noticeably from that in the programme (where Roger dies alone at the end), and a somewhat different text was distributed, though it's not clear whether there had been an error or whether the opera had been reworked.

Friday - back to Albuquerque, flight to Chicago and then Manchester (England), arriving in York at 10.30am (or 3.30am Mountain time) on Saturday. I only recovered fully from the jet-lag late on Monday. Still, it was generally an enjoyable trip, and, after King Roger, I and my three male friends went back to a rented house in Santa Fe where we were entertained by a couple of ladies whom I'd met about 10 years ago in Seattle, plus two of their friends whom I didn't know, for drinks and nibbles and opera chat.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/17/12 12:02 PM

Wow, that's some report...thank you, Andrew. I've only heard OF Szymanowski (here in Musical Jeopardy) but not anything BY him. Wagnerian fin-de-siècle, hm? That sounds like a pretty good hint.

I've never even been NEAR Santa Fe.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/17/12 01:04 PM

Well, there isn't anywhere near Santa Fe (which has a population of only about 70,000) except Albuquerque, population half a million!

The strange thing about central Santa Fe is that a very high proportion of its buildings are adobe architecture. Some are quite old, but others are very recent. Ny guide-book says "the rigorous insistence that every downtown building should look like a seventeenth-century Spanish colonial palace takes a bit of getting used to .... what at first glance appears to be a perfectly preserved ancient adobe turns out to be a multi-storey parking-lot." So there's a bit of a Toytown feel to it.

There are a few interesting buildings - for example a Victorian cathedral and chapel, plus the San Miguel Mission, apparently the oldest church in the US to have remained in continuous use - it was built in 1300 or earlier (take that, Columbus), and has the oldest bell in the US, cast in Spain in 1356. We visited the chapel on August 9th, which turned out to be the 656th birthday of the bell!

On King Roger, I forgot to mention that Roger was played by Mariusz Kwiecien, Roxana by Erin Morley, the Shepherd by William Burden and the tiny role of the Archbishop by Raymond Aceto - luxury casting.

I asked in another thread about Dorothy B. Hughes, and after Barbara's comments I took In a Lonely Place and Ride the Pink Horse with me to read on various planes. The former was good but a little too long. The latter (which I haven't yet finished) is more gripping, so far, AND is indubitably set in Santa Fe! It's described as an unnamed hick town in the first paragraph, but mention of the Plaza, the Fiesta, the La Fonda Hotel, the cathedral and (a clincher) the nearby town of Tesuque (where I had a beer) not far from the Opera House make it perfectly clear.

And finally (talking of beer) I visited a nice old-fashioned bar not far from the hotel. Inside was a notice on a blackboard which read:

NO F-----G BUD
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/17/12 08:58 PM

Ha ha ha! A bar for serious drinkers only.

Andrew, where did you get those dates? From a brochure, or maybe a typo? The San Miguel Mission dates from the early 17th century and has a plaque out front that says so:

Posted by: Jon

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/17/12 11:07 PM

Andrew, that's a wonderful trip report. Thanks so much for doing it. I've been through Albuquerque and I think even Santa Fe back in my touring days with the US Army Field Band (early 70s), but never for operatic reasons. An interesting set of operas, as that festival often seems to have.

As to Zdenka not having long hair: that tumble of suddenly released hair when Leonore or Zdenka reveals her femininity is undoubtedly visually effective, but I have sometimes found myself thinking, "You know, cutting your hair would be the easiest part of the disguise...."

Any Glyndebourne for you this summer, Andrew?
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/18/12 06:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Christopher
Ha ha ha! A bar for serious drinkers only.

Andrew, where did you get those dates? From a brochure, or maybe a typo? The San Miguel Mission dates from the early 17th century and has a plaque out front that says so

My mistake, Chris - I accidentally conflated two events. My Rough Guide says "The site is known to have been occupied in 1300 AD, while the church was built by the Tlaxcalan Indians from central Mexico, who accompanied New Mexico's earliest Spanish settlers in 1610." The 1356 bell, presumably, came with the settlers.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/18/12 06:17 AM

Originally Posted By: Jon
Any Glyndebourne for you this summer, Andrew?

Yes, so far I've seen a terrific Cenerentola (although one of my friends said "this is the first time I've seen ugly sisters who are prettier than the title-character") and a so-so Nozze di Figaro - excellent revolving set, very good Cherubino, but Ann Murray, Andrew Shore and Alan Oke (Marcellina, Bartolo, Basilio) stole the show; also, I'm not too bothered by the omission of Basilio's aria but we really should have had Marcellina's, AND there were no decorations in the da capos of "Dove sono" and "Voi che sapete", presumably because the conductor, Robin Ticciati (or the singers) didn't want to do them. Charles Mackerras must be turning in his grave.

Next Tuesday I'll be there again with three friends and a picnic for Ravel's L'heure Español and L'enfant et les sortilèges, preceded, somewhere in the complex, by a free performance (by chorus members, I think) of Julian Phillips's The Yellow Sofa.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/18/12 05:21 PM

Yes, that was indeed a wonderful report; thank you! And once again you've come up with an opera I've never heard of (The Yellow Sofa). The Glyndebourne website has photos of the 2009 production but no audio. I can't tell from the description whether it's a comedy or not.

I imagine Glyndebourne green is going to look good to you after New Mexico beige.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Off to Santa Fe - 08/24/12 01:21 PM

Well, we had some green in New Mexico, particularly in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The 176 square mile wide (and 500 feet deep) caldera was formed 1.2 million years ago after a volcanic eruption. We saw a herd of elks and quite a few little prairie dogs (sometimes sitting up in squirrel/meerkat style). Then we went on to Jemez Springs through a heavily-wooded narrow valley where the rain absolutely poured down.

Glyndebourne on Tuesday was also green, and we also had a bit of rain there, though we were picnicking under a tree and the rain wasn't a problem. The Yellow Sofa was based on a Portuguese story - a hard-working businessman called Godofredo buys the sofa for his wife, subsequently discovers that she has been canoodling with his business partner on the sofa, abandons her and decides to fight the partner to the death. Nothing comes of this, but in time he runs into his wife outside the opera house, and they are reconciled.

It was rather long (about an hour) and the music was so-so. The energetic cast engaged in too much running around and mugging. The best of the music was the fado-esque narrations by the voluptuous lady (Lauren Easton) who played the role of the sofa. The ten singers were past or present Glyndebourne chorus members, one of whom (Michael Wallace, who sang Godofredo) I'd seen previously as Don Giovanni, understudying an indisposed Gerald Finley at very short notice a couple of years ago (then he went back to playing the 2nd Mate in Billy Budd).

The double-bill was generally enjoyable, with lots of laugh-out-loud moments in L'heure espagnole (and an American - I think - Ramiro, Christopher Bolduc, replacing an indisposed Canadian). L'enfant et les sortilèges started with the very small Child sitting on an enormous chair at an enormous table. Maman was even more enormous, perhaps on roller-skates and/or skis(!) and the sortilèges were well-characterised. While the cup and the teapot were quarrelling, some of the surtitles appeared in Chinese!