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Something for Everyone
— Santa Fe & Taos

May 20, 2015


With its perfect of mix of dramatic blue skies and enchanting landscapes, combined with the creative heritage of Native Americans, Hispanics, Europeans, and others who have lived here, it’s natural that Santa Fe would emerge as a creative destination for artists, musicians, dancers, writers, and others seeking inspiration.

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  • Writer
    Brenda Linker

  • Photography
    Second Image by Kate Russell

With its perfect of mix of dramatic blue skies and enchanting landscapes, combined with the creative heritage of Native Americans, Hispanics, Europeans, and others who have lived here, it’s natural that Santa Fe would emerge as a creative destination for artists, musicians, dancers, writers, and others seeking inspiration.

With so much talent concentrated in such a small place, it is easy to understand why Santa Fe has given rise to a robust and thriving performing arts scene. There is an impressive array of entertainment choices in venues all over town. No trip to Santa Fe would be complete without seeing a live show, opera, or musical performance.


The Santa Fe Playhouse was established in 1922, and bills itself as the oldest continually running theater west of the Mississippi. It is currently celebrating its 94th uninterrupted season. The playhouse was the brainchild of American novelist and essayist Mary Austin, who incorporated the Playhouse as the Santa Fe Little Theatre. It was her vision, through live theatre, to celebrate and preserve the rich texture of the many diverse peoples that make up the Santa Fe community. The Playhouse programs an eclectic season, including classics, dramas, comedies, mysteries, new works, the popular Fiesta Melodrama, dance, and musicals. With its Benchwarmers short play series, and its newly developed full-length Playwrights Forum, the theatre offers new and professional playwrights the chance to see their work produced in the community. This season’s highlights include a combination of classics and new works: William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, The Madwoman of Chaillot, by French dramatist Jean Giraudoux, and Kimberly Akimbo by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. For more information, go to santafeplayhouse.org.

The iconic Lensic Center for the Performing Arts sits majestically on San Francisco Street, a few blocks from the Plaza. With its gorgeous Moorish and Spanish Renaissance-style art deco exterior and interior, this landmark theater has been an entertainment powerhouse in Santa Fe since 1931.

The Lensic was built by Nathan Salmon, a Syrian merchant who settled in Santa Fe. After many successful years, Mr. Salmon wanted to give back to the people of Santa Fe by providing them with a grand theater with state-of-the-art projection and sound. The theater thrived for decades, but by the late 1990s it had fallen into disrepair. A group of concerned individuals got together to revive the building, and by 2001 the Lensic was successfully transformed into a state-of-the-art, nonprofit performing arts center. The 821 seat house plays host and box office to many of Santa Fe’s performing arts organizations: Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, SantaFe Concert Association, Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Performance Santa Fe, The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Wise Fool of New Mexico.

“We’re proud to host more than 200 events each year, from plays to concerts to old-fashioned movie nights, and we welcome more than ten thousand public school kids for free performances. There’s something for everyone at The Lensic! In 2016 we’ll celebrate our 15th year as Santa Fe’s nonprofit performing arts center,” says Robert Martin, Executive, Artistic Director. To find out more about the Lensic and for ticket information go to lensic.org.

The Santa Fe Opera is well known as one of the world’s leading opera festivals. The Opera was founded in 1957 by John Crosby, who went on to direct the Opera for the next 43 years. From its inception the opera’s mission has been to “ensure the excellence of opera’s future through apprentice programs for singers, technicians and arts administrators; and to foster and enrich an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public.”

The opera house is an architectural jewel, set on a hilltop against the dramatic backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains. Opera-goers can enjoy a buffet dinner at the open air cantina on the beautifully landscaped rehearsal grounds. Guest speakers frequently offer informative talks about the evening’s opera. Another popular option is tailgating. The parking lot opens hours before the event, so that opera lovers dine, drink, and enjoy the beautiful scenery and sunset. The 2015 season runs from July 3 through August 29, and includes Daughter of the Regiment, Rigoletto, Salomé, La Finta Giardiniera, and Cold Mountain. Visit santafeopera.org for more information.

If you ever dreamed of joining the circus, here is your chance. Wise Fool New Mexico’s imaginative performances bring together the arts of circus, puppetry, music, storytelling, and theatre. Wise Fool performs regularly at festivals and diverse venues across the United States and Canada. Wise Fool teaches the circus arts to children and adults of all ages to promoting fitness, confidence building and fun. In the summer, they offer a free circus camp for children in Penasco, NM. For more information go, to wisefoolnewmexico.org.

Santa Fe Community Concert Association was founded in 1937. Now called Performance Santa Fe, the organization marks its 78th season, offering world-class music, dance, theater, jazz, educational programs, and community opera. For more information and a schedule of events, go to performancesantafe.org.


The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus began in 1984 as the brilliant idea of a few talented and dedicated classical musicians who were determined to keep symphonic music alive and well in Santa Fe. At first, musicians donated their services, and performances were free. Since then the Santa Fe Symphony and chorus has matured into a premier classical orchestra and chorale ensemble with a full season of performances and lectures. For a complete listing of performances, visit santafesymphony.org.

The Desert Chorale is a critically acclaimed ensemble comprised of 24 singers from across the country, with a repertoire spanning seven centuries. The chorale performs throughout the year at historical sites such as the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis and the Loretto Chapel, as well as other venues in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. For more information, go to desertchorale.org.

Santa Fe Pro Musica marks its 33rd season this year, presenting a selection of works for chamber orchestra and chamber ensemble, and large-scale oratorios. Performances take place at various historic Santa Fe venues. Their annual Baroque Christmas concerts are a local favorite. Santa Fe Pro Musica’s educational outreach programs introduce classical music to thousands of local students. For more formation go to www.santafepromusica.com.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (ASFB) combines the forces of two top contemporary ballet companies into one dynamic world-class ballet company. Distinguished global dancers, teachers, and choreographers combine to make it one of the premier ballet companies in the American West. In addition to their year-round performances in Aspen and Santa Fe, the company tours extensively, both nationally and internationally. The ASFB offers dance education for children and adults. Their Folklorico program enriches the lives of children through free, after-school instruction in Mexican folkloric dance. Their annual holiday performances of The Nutcracker are a local favorite. For more information, go to aspensantafeballet.com.


It takes great training to make a great performer and Santa Fe puts performing arts at the head of the class! It’s home to the New Mexico School for the Arts, a performing arts high school and art institute preparing Santa Fe’s young performing artists. The Performing Arts Department at Santa Fe University of Art and Design will introduce you to all the ins and outs of production and performance for a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Specializations include Dance, Design/Technical, Music Theater, Theater Performance, and Theater Design. Productions are housed in the Greer Garson Theater on campus. For more information, go to santafeuniversity.edu.

For great Flamenco dance instruction and immersion into the rich, artistic heritage of Spain, take a class at the Maria Benitez Institute for Spanish Arts, a not-for-profit, educational and cultural organization, established by Cecilio and Maria Benitez. Learn more about classes for adults and children at www. institutespanisharts.org.

More education and performing opportunities for children ages 8–13 are available at NDI New Mexico at The Dance Barns. The Dance Barns provide rigorous performing arts programming to build technical skills and personal character. They offer classes in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, musical theater, and voice. For more information on classes and curriculum, go to ndi-nm.org.

In addition to their adult resident company, Santa Fe Performing Arts provides well-rounded performing arts training to children and teens with after school and summer classes in theater, music, and dance for children from ages 6-18. The City Different Players is a more aggressive afterschool performing arts program for 7-12 year-olds that culminates in a full-scale production at the end of each semester. For more information, go to sfperformingarts.org.

Whether you are visiting for a weekend, a week, or a season, you are bound to find a memorable performing arts experience that’s perfect for you in and around Santa Fe.

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