How to Experience the Santa Fe Opera

Whether you’re a dedicated fan traveling to Santa Fe specifically for its world-class operas, or just happen to be in town during the season, the Santa Fe Opera is an experience that you won’t want to miss!

Just seven miles north of Santa Fe, the famous Santa Fe Opera will sweep you away to another world. Since 1957, the venue has staged both new and established operas each summer, drawing fans from all over the globe, as well as popular and critical renown. The performances are staged in a breezy, open-air theater with views of the magnificent Santa Fe sky. Seats range from inexpensive standing-room-only spots to pricier sitting arrangements, making the opera an affordable experience no matter your budget.

The Santa Fe Opera brings the opera-going experience into the twenty-first century, with subtitles in English and Spanish that accompany each performance, as well as discounted family days, educational opportunities, and more. Whether you’re an opera aficionado or are just looking to try something new, the Santa Fe Opera is uniquely accessible to longtime fans and newcomers alike!

What You Need to Know

When: June, July, and August

Where: 301 Opera Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87506 (a few miles north of Santa Fe)

Cost: $15+

Getting There

Only a short drive away from Santa Fe proper, the opera can feel like a world unto itself. The free opera parking lot opens three hours before each performance, and it’s recommended that you arrive at least half an hour prior to the start of the show.

The open air theater includes world famous (at least opera world famous!) views of New Mexican skies

The open air theater includes world famous (at least opera world famous!) views of New Mexican skies

If you don’t have a car or would prefer not to drive, the opera also offers a shuttle service from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, with options to arrive two and a half hours or half an hour before the show. The shuttle runs from $25 to $40 depending on your location, and is an easy and reliable way to get to and from a performance. Since reception at the opera can be spotty and ride-sharing services are often busy during and after the show, the shuttle service is a great option for those looking for a lift there and back. We recommend planning ahead: tickets for the shuttle must be purchased at least twenty-four hours in advance, and may sell out!

When to Go

The Opera typically runs from late June through mid-August each year, with a new lineup of operas each season. Some hardcore fans try to experience every performance on offer, while others simply choose the opera that most speaks to them. From classic staples to innovative contemporary operas in a variety of different languages, there’s a wealth of options to choose from each season. Performances may sell out, so it’s best to plan in advance if you can and reserve your seats early.

If you want to enjoy the full opera experience, consider arriving early to your performance in order to take in the stunning views, festive atmosphere, and maybe even a picnic or tailgate!

What to Bring

While Santa Fe summer days are warm, the nights in the high desert can cool off considerably, so we recommend bringing layers and dressing comfortably. The opera showcases a variety of personal styles, from Santa Fe casual to decadent show-worthy attire. But whether you’re dressed to the nines or wearing something breezy and comfortable, it’s best to pack a sweater (or even a blanket!) and check the forecast beforehand in case of evening rain. Opera performances can be lengthy, so it’s always a good idea to bring plenty of water and pack or purchase a snack for intermission.

Dining at the Opera

If you’re looking to grab a bite to eat before the show, there are a variety of options. There are meals, snacks, and drinks available at the Twomey Dining Terrace, adjacent to the opera proper. There are also drinks and concessions available inside the theater gates, perfect for an intermission snack.

If you’re looking for an upscale experience, you can dine at the Preview Dinner for $70 a person. These exclusive events feature wine, dinner, desert, and a talk on the night’s performance. The Preview Dinner is available before most performances, but must be reserved in advance.

If you’re driving from Santa Fe or another nearby locale, there is a vast variety of options for dining, from classic New Mexican fare to cuisine from all over the world!

Tailgating the Opera

While you might not expect a festive tailgate to coincide with world-renowned opera performances, at the Santa Fe Opera you can enjoy both! Opera regulars and newcomers alike set up tailgates each year to enjoy the beautiful sunsets, views of the Jemez and Sangre de Christo mountains, and food and drink before the performance.

There are a limited amount of picnic tables available near the opera parking lot, but you’re also welcome to bring your own table and chairs in addition to food and drink. Some dedicated fans even bring tablecloths, gourmet meals, and more! If you’re tight on time, the opera also offers pre-packaged tailgate picnics that you can pick up upon your arrival. As the opera grounds are only a short drive from town, you can also opt for takeout form any number of Santa Fe’s world-class restaurants, or pick up a basket of goodies from the Cheesemongers.

Other Opera Attractions

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the world of opera, the Santa Fe Opera has a variety of other talks and events in addition to its regular performances. You can enjoy a backstage tour of the opera, a guided tour and presentation around the Opera Ranch, and Prelude Talks before each performance. The Opera also has a fabulous gift shop filled with music, books, gifts and more.

Outside of the grounds of the opera proper, the Santa Fe opera also hosts a variety of events in the surrounding communities, including an Apprentice Showcase featuring up-and-coming opera performers, chamber music performances, talks with opera composers and performers, and much more.

Looking for Something Fun to Do in Santa Fe? Check Out Our Food, Wine and History Tours!