More work in the wings
SSanta Fe Opera, well along the road to its $45 million fundraising goal, has embarked on the second phase of a substantial improvement program. Last year, work focused on stage right, including the wings. The dressing rooms were gutted and rebuilt, and crews put in a new wardrobe facility upstairs, on the same level as the dressing rooms. Out front, the gift shop and box office were enlarged and the number of bathrooms bolstered. “We also enlarged and enhanced the bars out front, and we created an eating terrace where people can pick up their box dinners for tailgating or eat there,” said Paul Horpedahl, SFO director of production and facilities. “That’s been a smash hit for our audience.”
Now attention is focused on the other side of the stage. The Opera Club building was razed, and a replacement — with a bridge to the pavilion and the complex’s second elevator — should be ready by April 1. The new building was designed by MAD (Matiz Architecture & Design) in New York City; Juan C. Matiz, principal of the firm, worked with architect James Polshek on the opera’s signature Stieren Orchestra Hall. “Also this year we’ve been working on expanding the stage-left wings and rebuilding our scene shop/prop shop space that will be larger and have a paint-shop space,” Horpedahl said.
The third phase of the program, which could stretch out over a couple of years, includes redoing the patron parking lot for better drainage, replacing lights with LED fixtures, building on-site storage for props and scenery, and upgrading the access road.
“The cash portion of the overall fundraising goal is $38 million, so we’re seeking $7 million in planned gifts,” said Robert K. Meya, director of external affairs. “Of the $45 million, $31 million is for construction, $4 million is for future programming, and $10 million is for a reserves fund for future upkeep and maintenance, and we’re calling this new group of people who designate their funds toward that ‘The Crosby Society’ [after founder John Crosby]. It’s a rainy-day fund. More and more, when you fundraise these days for big capital projects, you try to put some matching portion to the side so you’re not going back to donors who have just helped to build a new building, for example, and 10 or 15 years later saying, ‘This broke and has to be fixed.’ ”
The Crosby Society planned-giving campaign rolled out in late November. “We’re hopeful that people will see this as an opportunity to participate in the campaign without necessarily having to make an up-front cash gift, but that they can include the opera in their future estate plans,” Meya said.
Santa Fe Opera has raised $33 million of its $45 million goal. It is hoped that a seat-naming campaign in the 2016 season will raise another $2 million or so. About 300 seats have names already, so more than 1,700 are available for the project.
— Paul Weideman
Top to bottom, proposed Wyncote Opera Club, viewed from the Stravinsky Terrace, Santa Fe Opera; overview of proposed additions and existing opera grounds; proposed Suzanne Hanson Poole Production Center; renderings courtesy Matiz Architecture & Design