SELECT title FROM cont_articles WHERE id='' LIMIT 1 Santa Fe Reporter


‘Sixty Meters to Anywhere’ author on how to stop being who you’ve always been, even, or especially, if who you’ve always been has a substance abuse problem

Outdoor GuideTuesday, June 28, 2016 by Elizabeth Miller

“People who have what I have” is as close as Brendan Leonard brushes in the trailer for his latest book, Sixty Meters to Anywhere, to saying out loud the words that sent him scrambling for a way to rebuild his life. But as the images tick by and the narration continues, it becomes clear that people who have what he had have a problem with substance abuse.

That road often isn’t scenic, and the stories written about traveling it frequently focus on its spiraling descents. Leonard doesn’t. He chooses, instead, to lay a little groundwork before quickly moving into the other half of the story. He writes about the slow ascent as he learns to define himself not by what he doesn’t do, which is drink, but by what he does, which is climb and hike.

The book begins on a snowy night in Iowa, when Leonard gets stopped for his second DUI. What unfolds from there is a crisply written and boldly honest retelling of the sharply edged and often lonely moments of recovery and reinvention. As part of abandoning a life of hours spent on the bar stool, he moves to Montana to enroll in a graduate program in journalism. A creative nonfiction professor first said his experiences in jail and rehab were ones worth writing about—a kind of permission granted, he says, to produce some of the essays that now appear in his book, more than a decade later.

"There are things that you can do if you just admit to yourself that you can do them. … It’s just a matter of having the courage to do it."

But Montana, of course, is surrounded by mountains, and those begin to consume more and more of his time.

“At the time, I didn’t really know what I was feeling, or why it was so important,” he tells SFR. “It was like, this is where I feel really good, here in these places where I feel small and where I’m in incredibly beautiful terrain. I think everybody feels that same way in some respects. Whether or not you communicate it, that’s one of the things you like about being outside.”

Among the realizations materializing is that in the West, no one would call these undertakings outdoors “hobbies”; they’re far more essential.

“It becomes this lifestyle, which is a really great thing for somebody like me who didn’t really have an identity, to be able to understand you could just make this the big thing in your life,” he says. “Yeah, you’ve got to go to work and earn money, but after that, you can plunge into the outdoors and all these different methods of travel—hiking, backpacking, peak bagging, mountain biking, ice climbing, rock climbing.”

The way he writes it in Sixty Meters to Anywhere, a reference to a standard length for a climbing rope, is, “I wanted to climb, to get out there and see it all—snow-covered peaks, rivers that cut canyons, the moonscape of the American desert—to bring it into myself and see what it made me.”

For Leonard, it’s actually now become the way he makes a living, as the founder of, a website about outdoor sports and the people who surrender their lives (and paychecks) to them, and an outdoor sports writer whose work has appeared in Climbing, Adventure Journal, Alpinist, Backpacker, and National Geographic Adventure. His job has now taken him down canyons in rafts and to the tops of peaks on several continents.

He says the greatest compliment he’s received on the book so far, which was released earlier this summer, was from a friend who said it compelled him to think honestly about his own life. That’s the goal, Leonard says.

“I want this out there, and hopefully someone who needs it will find it, and it will change somebody’s life in a small way and allow them to live a better life,” he says. “That’s the point of all storytelling, to me, whether it’s just funny or they really identify with it or they realize they have a substance abuse problem or they have no interest in a substance abuse problem but realize they’re in control of their own life in some other regard and can make that choice.”

The decision to stop drinking may have been one of his toughest, its effects rippling through his family and his friendships. But we all face choices to change, or not. Fourteen years sober, he now jokes about too much coffee, too little meditation and the fellow runners in the park near his house in Denver who refused to shift their route with a trail redesign. Instead, they jump a nearly 2-foot-tall curb and wear down their former path through the grass. Change comes hard, no matter how it arrives.

“You’ve got to realize you’re just telling yourself one story,” he says. “There are things that you can do if you just admit to yourself that you can do them. There aren’t these magic people who are entrepreneurs or who change their life midstream. Everybody can do it. It’s just a matter of having the courage to do it. But we have all sorts of lies we tell ourselves, like ‘Oh I was raised differently,’ or ‘I didn’t grow up doing that,’ or ‘I grew up doing this, so this is the way I do things.’ You have a choice. You don’t have to have high cholesterol just because everyone in your family has high cholesterol. You can change that. That’s not this code that’s written that you can’t rewrite in this life.”



MetroGlyphsWednesday, June 29, 2016 by SFR
Russ Thornton is a Santa Fe local who has replaced his first passion, cooking, with a new love interest, the weekly SFR comic he's created called MetroGlyphs. Reach him at

7 Days


7 DaysWednesday, June 29, 2016 by SFR


And people all over America pretend like they understand what that means.



Day drinking and night drinking are both bad ideas when coupled with driving.



Because the upcoming underpass construction is not likely to be pretty.



Thank you SO much, elected officials!



We’ll probably still have plenty of fireworks though, so don’t freak out.



What is truth but death anyway? He scowled. Sweat dripped off his chin.



Gotta make up for the corporate tax breaks somehow.

Free State of Jones Review: Civil Bore

MehWednesday, June 29, 2016 by Alex De Vore

There’s just something about war movies that draw us in as audiences. Oh sure, there’s the history and the shaping of nations and all that, but there’s also much to be said for the stark realism of a well-done battle scene or the chance to get a view of the terrifying conditions therein. Just look at Saving Private Ryan or A Very Long Engagement, and you know what we mean. This is the premise that draws us into the new Civil War drama, Free State of Jones, but the war itself winds up playing more of a backdrop to the politically charged goings-on which, coupled with some degree of revisionist history, ultimately leaves the new film from director Gary Ross (he wrote Big with Tom Hanks and probably other movies) feeling far too drawn out.

Confederate soldier Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey) is sick and tired of fighting a losing battle for wealthy landowners, and when a young family member is conscripted and then killed right before his eyes, he just sort of leaves. Like, seriously—he just walks away and heads home to Jones County, Mississippi, and his wife Serena (The Americans’ Keri Russell). She’s pretty bummed out by his hero complex, though, and after watching him stand up to the Confederate envoy that comes to tax local farms (by taking all of their crops and livestock) for the bazillionth time, she leaves him. This somehow lands him in a nearby swamp with a small group of runaway slaves, and together they become a sort of safe haven for deserters and runaways.

Naturally, this doesn’t much impress the nearby general and his cronies, and so a sort of cat-and-mouse game plays out over the next five years. In this time, we see Knight’s Robin Hood-esque antics withstand everything from the KKK to the changing of Mississippi law to counteract emancipation and so on. Knight develops an even stronger sense of what’s right, becomes buddies with the slaves, fights for the poor and downtrodden and falls for a beautiful young slave named Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw of Jupiter Ascending). The whole thing is reportedly based on actual events, but once Jones starts to toggle between the events of the 1860s and a descendent of Knight’s struggles with outdated and racist marriage laws 85 years in the future, it becomes hard to continue paying attention. If the goal here was to prove to us that Southern white people were just the worst in those days, we didn’t need a whole other subplot going down to prove it—everyone already knows! This adds painfully unnecessary length and overshadows more important story elements such as Knight’s buddy Moses (played excellently by Benjamin Button’s Mahershala Ali) working to provide black people and former slaves with the power to vote.

The whole thing smacks of the unfortunate white savior trope in film, and even if these were actual events, it diminishes the role that black people had in their own storyline during and after the Civil War. McConaughey continues his reign of being a super-intense dude, but if he’s not careful, he’ll have used up all of his True Detective/Dallas Buyer’s Club goodwill before he knows it.

It is conceivable that future high school history classes will be shown this film, but it’s just as possible it will be forgotten entirely due to its extra (read, boring) padding. It’s a damn shame they didn’t do better, too; Civil War films don’t exactly grow on trees, and we had high hopes.

Free State of Jones
Directed by Gary Ross
With McConnaughey, Mbatha-Raw, Ali and Russel
Violet Crown, DeVArgas, REgal 14
R, 139 min.

Last Cab to Darwin Review

OkWednesday, June 29, 2016 by Julie Ann Grimm

With a few notable exceptions, our modern culture does a piss-poor job of confronting mortality. We’re bad at dealing with our own impending death, and we’re worse when the death of a loved one is looming. Medical advances mean we try to keep ourselves (and each other) alive as long as possible, even if it involves long stretches bedridden in hospitals with weird machines keeping the Grim Reaper at bay. Despite that, we can grasp the concept that letting a loved one die, or helping him, is OK—as long as that loved one is a dog or cat or horse.

According to Last Cab to Darwin, it’s not just America where we suck at this. People in Australia are also bad at dying. Rex (Michael Caton) knew all that when he realized he had stomach cancer. And when a surgery that leaves a foot-long scar across his belly doesn’t get it all, he’s not interested in the hospital. What does pique his interest is a doctor on the other side of the continent who’s trying to establish the country’s test case on euthanasia. That leaves much of Last Cab to pass by as a kind of morbid road-trip flick, with Rex picking up a random, handsome aboriginal companion named Tilli, then Tilli (Mark Coles Smith) picking up a random blonde barkeep from London, who happens to be a nurse on hiatus from her real job (Emma Hamilton) and can help Rex stay alive long enough to get permission to kill himself using a medical device rigged with morphine. While these are the kind of relationships that really only happen on TV, Rex has meanwhile left a real relationship in the dust. This plotline, greased by the charming rough edges on Ningali Lawford-Wolf as Polly, explores not only the deep racial divide between white Aussies and Australia’s Indigenous people, but also how abruptly abandoning those who really know and love you isn’t any better of a way to die than the aforementioned beeping hospital scenario. And you don’t have to drive across the bush to figure out how it ends.

Last Cab to Darwin
123 min.,
The Screen

Coffee Pops to the Rescue!

Upgrade your caffeine delivery mechanism

Food WritingWednesday, June 29, 2016 by Gwyneth Doland

There have been so many stories in here about drinks lately that you guys probably think SFR is on a liquid diet. Not true! We are voracious eaters. But in the summer, we crave cold drinks, and iced coffee becomes much more appealing than a hot cup.

The problem with iced coffee, of course, is dilution. You pour coffee over ice cubes, and it becomes a watery mess. Hence, coffee ice cubes. You know, you take the bottom of today’s pot and pour it into ice cube trays to chill tomorrow’s drinks? That’s genius, for sure.

So is cold brew. You put ground coffee and cold water in a pitcher (fitted with a mesh filter if you have one) and let it rest overnight. The result is a smooth, full-flavored coffee that you can either gently reheat or serve cold.

Here’s where trouble comes in: If you want to have iced coffee, why not make the cold brew stronger, more concentrated, so that when it melts the ice cubes, you get a coffee equilibrium? But what really happens is that you end up drinking chilled jet fuel—because meh, who needs ice cubes, I’m so tired this morning—and then you’re wide-eyed, panting and shaking so hard that you can’t type at your desk, and people around you begin to strongly suspect that you have a methamphetamine problem.

Long story short, this is how we arrive at coffee popsicles: single-serving icebergs of coffee with just enough flavor to view them as a treat and not as a life-sustaining bodily fluid.

I picked up a mocha mint popsicle after breakfast one morning, and when it started to melt too fast, I dumped it into my coffee, and it was awesome. I could do that every day.

Note that these are strictly a morning or midday treat for most people, but you can certainly use decaf to make popsicles that are fun and tasty but without the kick. You can use cold brew, chilled espresso, leftover cold coffee or whatever you’re in love with right now. And you get to taste the mixture before you freeze it, so you know what you’re getting.

You can buy popsicle molds at the grocery store, cookware shops or big box stores. Look for molds that have a drip-catching feature. Or you could do it the old-fashioned way: put popsicle sticks in little Dixie cups and fill them up. Whatever you choose, the volume will vary.

Horchata Pops

This recipe calls for Rice Dream Horchata because that’s what I stumbled onto at the store, and it is super easy. It makes an icy pop, though. If you want a creamier pop, you can substitute cream, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar to taste.

Makes 4 (4-ounce) pops

  • 1¼ cups strong coffee, cold
  • ½ cup Rice Dream Horchata (or another horchata)

Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze 4 hours or overnight.

Mint Mocha Pops

The easiest way to flavor these is with peppermint extract, which you can find at the grocery store. You can also pour hot milk over fresh mint leaves and let it sit for a while. Or you can make a simple syrup with fresh mint and use it to sweeten this (and iced tea, lemonade, mojitos etc.).

Makes 4 (4-ounce) pops

  • ¼ cup cocoa powder or shaved chocolate
  • ¼ cup cream, milk, rice milk, whatever
  • 1½ cups strong coffee, cold or at room temp
  • sweetener, to taste
  • 1 dash peppermint extract

Put the chocolate in a mug, add the milk and stir to combine as well as you can. Heat it in a double boiler or microwave in 30-second increments until the chocolate shavings melt or the cocoa melds with the milk. Whisk to combine.

Stir in the coffee and sweeten to taste.

Add the tiniest amount of peppermint extract you can possibly manage. Taste, then add more if necessary. It’s incredibly powerful.

Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze 4 hours or overnight.

White Russian Pops

Because why not, OK? You either get a little warm and fuzzy at breakfast or have a little post-prandial perk-up. Kahlua is good, Bailey’s is good, chocolate liqueur is good, a little Irish whiskey would be fine. Use what you have on the bar.

Makes 4 (4-ounce) pops

  • ¾ cup very strong coffee, cold
  • ¾ cup milk, cream, whatever
  • ¼ cup Kahlua
  • sweetener, to taste

Mix all ingredients together until the sweetener is completely dissolved.

Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze 4 hours or overnight.

Savage Love

Douche Moves

Savage LoveWednesday, June 29, 2016 by Dan Savage

Is it a super douchey move to pretend to be a lesbian to avoid unwanted male attention? I’m a straight single woman in my mid-thirties and a very plausible lesbian in terms of sartorial stereotypes. Occasionally a guy will hit on me in an awkward or creepy way and I’ll trot out a line about “not being into men.” Most recently I used this pose when a courier broke down in my driveway and I invited him in for a glass of water while he waited for the tow truck. It was really uncomfortable and a little threatening when—after establishing that I lived alone—he asked me out. I guess I use this as an excuse so as not to hurt their feelings, but also to shut the conversation down as quickly as possible if I’m feeling vulnerable.

Is this a harmless white lie, or a major cop-out that would offend actual lesbians? Can you suggest some better strategies for when you’re feeling cornered by a dude you’re not interested in?

-Lady’s Entirely Zany Identity Enquiry

“I’m not offended by this,” said someone I thought was an actual lesbian.

I shared your question with this person—a woman I thought was an actual lesbian—because I wasn’t offended by it either, but wanted to check with an actual lesbian just to be safe. Turns out my friend doesn’t identify as a lesbian, but as a woman-who-loves-women-but-does-not-identify-as-a-lesbian-because-she-sometimes-finds-the-odd-dude-hot. So for the record: my friend is speaking for the WWLWBDNIAALBSSFTODH community here—which often intersects/sexts with the lesbian community—and not the lesbian community.

“But even though I’m not offended by it, I have to say I’ve found the ‘I’m into women’ line to be totally ineffective,” said my not-a-lesbian friend. “The creeps I’ve used it on get even more riled up after hearing that line. Sometimes I check out and start ignoring these creeps as if they’re wallpaper, but that can rile them up too. Same with a polite ‘I’m not interested.’ The only success I’ve had with warding off creeps is by actually yelling at them, asking them if they’d like to be treated the way they’re treating me, and if their mothers, sisters, et cetera, would appreciate that treatment.”

My not-a-lesbian friend—who, as it turns out, identifies more strongly with the term “bisexual” than she does WWLWBDNIAALBSSFTODH—has also had some luck with the lose-your-shit strategy (e.g., screaming, yelling, and waving your arms around like a crazy person).

“You kind of have to treat these people like bears at a campsite,” said my not-a-lesbian friend. “You have to make yourself big and loud and scary so they don’t get closer. Because they will get closer.”

I have a difficult question. A dear young friend has recently started being a stripper for work. I won’t lie: it tears me up. All I feel is sadness and worry—such a nice soul for what I feel is a not-so-nice environment. I really hope I’m wrong. Is there any way in which this can be okay?

My thoughts are that no matter how strong a woman is, no one can forget what they see or have to deal with. I worry for the sake of a nice person getting her ass handed to her too often and potentially breaking beyond repair. My gut emotion is that it doesn’t matter how well you handle these situations—what matters is the fact that you see too much ugliness, too often, and get to a point where you forget that there are actually nice humans out there.

I guess my question is: How well can anyone handle this?

-My Endangered Lady

I suspect she’s handling it better than you are, MEL. And I would recommend minding your own business, backing the fuck off, and Googling “white knight syndrome.” But if your conscience requires you to say something, say something that opens up a conversation, rather than something so larded with shame, fear, and judgment that it shuts the conversation down. Instead of saying something like “Oh my God! What were you thinking?! You’ll be shredded emotionally and sexually! You could break beyond repair!”, try something like, “Stripping isn’t something I would feel comfortable doing myself. But I’m your friend, and if you need to talk with someone about your new job—if you need to decompress or vent—I’m here for you.”

I’ve been lying to myself. I told myself that stability and friendship were more important to me than sex. I’ve been with my husband for twelve years, and we’ve been married for five of those. We were best friends, and I was already in love before we started dating and before we ever had sex. I should have known in the beginning that we weren’t sexually compatible, but I chose to ignore it (or I chose stability and friendship). I chose my best friend, and have been suffering ever since.

Luckily, I listen to your advice on a regular basis, and I’ve started having more open conversations about my feelings and my wants and needs. About a year ago, my husband and I decided to open our relationship. This was all my idea, and I’m not sure he’s fully into it. We agreed to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and a month ago we finally acted on it. I met someone in an open relationship and had sex with them. It was amazing—everything about it. In the end, I didn’t feel guilty, but I did want to tell my husband. I still feel the need to get his approval, but I also know that he doesn’t want to hear it. If he gave me the go-ahead, even though everything was my idea, should I feel guilty, or just happy for finally getting what I needed from someone? Are there baby steps I can take to tell my husband these things, or do I just keep them to myself? I feel like this is saving our marriage, but society probably just looks at me like a cheating whore.

-Feelings Are Insanely, Terribly Hard For Unsure Lovers

You have your husband’s approval to do what you did, but his approval was contingent upon you not telling him what you did. Honor the commitment you made to your husband, FAITHFUL, by keeping your mouth shut. You’ll doubtless have conversations in the future about your relationship, and about monogamy, and you can ask him if he wants to stick with “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If he says yes, continue to keep your mouth shut.

I’m a (mostly) straight guy in his mid-twenties. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved wearing women’s lingerie. It turns me on, but it also makes me feel comfortable. I’ve never worn women’s clothing in public, but I’ve recently been wearing it more and more around my house. It just feels right! Side note: I’ve also recently been obsessed with being pegged by my female partner, and I love the reversal of roles. Would I be considered genderqueer, genderfluid, or what? And would I be considered part of the LGBT community?

-Frequently Excited Miss

Genderqueer and genderfluid aren’t kinks, FEM, they’re identities. And I don’t know what you mean by that parenthetical “mostly” you dropped in there before “straight.” If it means you’re attracted to dudes—regardless of whether you’ve ever acted on that attraction—you would indeed be considered part of the LGBT community, under the “B” designation. But if all you meant was, “My cock gets hard when I wear panties and think about getting my ass pegged by my girlfriend,” then you’re just another kinky straight guy.

On the Lovecast, dating historian Moira Weigel.
@fakedansavage on Twitter

3 Questions

with Lani Ersfeld

3 QuestionsWednesday, June 29, 2016 by Julie Ann Grimm

The Santa Fe Farmers Market kicks off its Southside location again this summer with a presence at the Santa Fe Place Mall on Tuesday nights, between July 5 and at least Sept. 27 (longer if the weather holds). From kids dance performances to photo exhibitions and mariachi, there’s more to do than just buy vegetables—although that’s certainly intended as the leading event. The market runs from 3 to 6 pm, and market director Lani Ersfeld says music, cooking demonstrations and other extras will happen every week.

What is the benefit of shopping at the Tuesday Southside market versus the one in the Railyard?
The Southside farmers market is a wonderful little market. It sort of resembles a lot more of the grassroots market that our Railyard market started as. It’s held in a parking lot, so of course, parking is never an issue. It’s absolutely a different location in town, and frankly we feel there’s a huge need on that side of town, especially because it is a known food desert down there, and so that is why we feel really passionate about keeping that farmers market going and keeping it as vibrant as we possibly can. More than being a market, we try to make it a sort of a hub for resources. So not only will you be able to get fresh produce, but you’ll be able to get a free health screening with the mobile county health van, you’ll be able to learn how to cook the things you are buying that day, because we have free cooking demonstrations and sampling with a nutritionist every week. We always have music. We try to have a lot of fun things going on, and we just try and make it a really great market.

What are your favorite things to buy at the market?
Absolutely the zucchini. The season of the Southside market is one of the highest zucchini times of the year. You can make calabacitas and enchiladas and make all those fresh things, but then I love to freeze it and make zucchini bread all the winter long as well and make little treats with it. A lot of the stuff that is high season, you can get and freeze and be able to utilize.

Are you getting more shoppers than previous years?
It’s a huge goal of ours, to create higher numbers of shoppers every year. We are trying to appeal to all the different folks who might want to come down. We have been doing a lot of work with the Santa Fe Community College, and we have been doing hand-fliering in the Tierra Contenta neighborhood. We are trying to appeal to some of those businesses and some of those people who use Cerrillos Road. Our market is going to be on the Cerrillos side of the mall rather than back by the JC Penny, so we hope that will draw more a lot more traffic of people driving by and seeing that we are there. We track very closely our EBT and our WIC dollars that are spent, and our EBT is doubling every year. And our double-up program [that lets SNAP participants double their dollars] has gotten new funding, and now there’s no limit to how much you can double. So that is going to be really incredible for a lot of folks, too.

Dance, Dance, Dance

Local flamenco dancer La Emi takes it to the next level

Music FeaturesWednesday, June 29, 2016 by Alex De Vore

Flamenco is one of those music-based artforms that isn’t just about a sound. As local dancer Emily Grimm, aka La Emi, puts it, “We kind of have our own language and terminology, [and] we’re there to support one another; it’s teamwork.”

Grimm refers to the three basic components of flamenco: the guitarist, the singer and the dancer, the latter of which falls under her purview. Certainly most of Santa Fe has heard of EmiArte Flamenco, the local company founded by Grimm and her godfather, the illustrious guitarist Vicente Griego. What they don’t know, however, is that it’s the culmination of 20+ years of intensive training on Grimm’s part and the realization of a lifelong dream.

Having grown up north of Santa Fe in Chamisal (which, by the way, is where celebrated Hispano folk musician Cipriano Vigil hangs his hat), Grimm bleeds New Mexico. “I’m proud to be from Northern New Mexico,” she says without an ounce of sarcasm, “and my vision has always been to serve my community.”

It’s a vision that began when Grimm started lessons through Maria Benitez’ Institute for Spanish Arts when she was barely 4 years old. Her father had worked the box office for flamenco events, and she says she wanted to be a flamenco dancer from as far back as she remembers.

“The way I like to think about it is that God puts us on this earth for a reason,” Grimm says, “and this has always been my calling.”

As such, Grimm would go on to receive lessons and participate in workshops wherever possible. It’s a level of determination that also led to an upcoming dance apprenticeship in Spain (the homeland of flamenco) with celebrated master Carmela Greco. Grimm met Greco through her uncle and says she looks forward to her trip, not only as a means to improve her craft but because “flamenco is the ultimate expression of oneself.”

But how does this all play out on a local level? For starters, by the time you read this, EmiArte will be smack-dab in the middle of its summer run of shows at Skylight. In addition to the choreography conceived by Grimm, the troupe welcomes celebrated flamenco guitarists Andres Vadin and Jorge Robledo alongside master dancer (and Grimm’s cousin) Elena Osuna.

“It’s something that we love to do and something that we love to share, and it’s something that exists between and connects families,” Grimm explains, practically shouting with excitement. “Santa Fe has been so welcoming for flamenco since day one, in my experience, and having studied in different areas of the country and the world, I can say that this will be some of the best flamenco you can see.”

Grimm says that her event will be family-friendly and accessible for people of all tastes. Even those who are not familiar with the artform are encouraged to attend and learn something new.

“Let’s say someone doesn’t know much about what flamenco is,” Grimm advises, “well, I want them to feel like they’re coming with us on this kind of journey that tells them the story. … They’ll be able to interpret it in their own individual ways.”

Oh, and Skylight will also be serving up Spanish cuisine, so if you’re one of these people for whom paella is a big deal, it might be worth it to go just for that. It’s important to point out that even though La Emi is young, she displays a love for the music and dance of flamenco that knows no bounds. This is a seriously studied dancer who was not only born into a musical family, but who has cultivated a love and passion that extends well beyond her birthright. To put it another way, how much longer do you honestly suppose it will be that such a world-class dancer—the kind who receives apprenticeships in Spain—is going to hang around Santa Fe? This young woman could basically write her own ticket in life, and that’s saying something.

EmiArte Flamenco
8 pm Wednesday, June 29-Saturday, July 2. $15.
Skylight Santa Fe
139 W San Francisco St.

Darling, You Don’t Look 60

Santa Fe Opera hits a big milestone

OperaWednesday, June 29, 2016 by John Stege

It was 1957, just Elvis and Ike and me. I’d made my Metropolitan Opera debut a year earlier (Aida: Ethiopian captive). Now—a bitter July night during the Santa Fe Opera’s risky-ambitious debut season, seven operas that wet first summer. The scheduled opening night for The Rake’s Progress had been rained out, so an icy evening now greeted the rescheduled premier, with Stravinsky sitting up front. We all shivered in sympathy with tenor Loren Driscoll, mostly naked in Tom Rakewell’s Bedlam scene; we all knew that this would be a night to remember.

Santa Fe Opera’s Charles MacKay lives and breathes opera.
Chris Corrie

Charles MacKay, SFO’s general director since 2008, missed the show, his parents deeming that a tot of 7 wasn’t quite ready for Mother Goose’s bawdyhouse, but his sister sang in the chorus. Young Charles had to wait two years until a Youth Night Fledermaus knocked him dead. “That—orchestra, chorus, voices—just did it for me. I was, and obviously still am, hooked,” MacKay says.

A couple weeks ago, before the company’s 60th season opening on July 1, we sat down for a brisk glance back at a few notable evenings since ’57. MacKay thought back to 1970: “Donizetti’s Anna Bolena. I was a mere pit boy, but the orchestra needed a fourth horn.”

Fast forward to 2011, with MacKay now the boss: “Opening night, our first-ever Faust, with a forest fire raging in the Jemez making for voice-killing air pollution. My most stressful day; never again.”

Segue to a quick duettino on remembrance of evenings past:

CM: “That eye-dazzling 1974 L’Egisto, with George Shirley, our first baroque venture.”

SFR: “Bicentennial year’s The Mother of Us All, Robert Indiana’s brash designs, Ashley Putnam on roller-skates.”

SFR: “John Reardon as Hindemith’s Cardillac in 1967, and then the opera house in ashes next morning.”

CM: “After the Great Fire, the second house ready—a miracle—in ’68 with eight operas including a Rosenkavalier with Helen Vanni.”

CM: “That 2012 smash hit: Rossini’s Maometto II, Pisaroni and Crocetto just killing it.”

And so it went.

MacKay looked back at SFO’s beginnings: “Founding father, John Crosby, set our template from day one. Finding the finest young singers, encouraging new operas, establishing a repertory pattern we still follow,” he says. “Inventing vocal and technical apprenticeships, now copied throughout the opera business, creating and maintaining the way-ahead artistic and administrative standard for every summer opera festival in America and, with solid financial support from donors and patrons, we fill 89 percent of our seats—last season the Met filled 72 percent.”

MacKay’s audiences will see more physical plant improvements this summer, with phase two of the $45 million “Setting the Stage” program completed. (“We still need $5 million, the hardest to come up with, to finish phase three this winter.”) Out front: more rest­rooms and bars, a larger terrace, a two-story Opera Club. MacKay’s even prouder of the enormous backstage accomplishments: a vast new scene shop, a state-of-the-art paint shop and prop room, and much more.

Production facilities were a-swarm as we walked through: apprentices welding, painting, set-building, with the company roster soon to be 700 strong.

Puccini’s Madam Butterfly opened the house 60 years ago. This July 1, another Puccini: The Girl of the Golden West, an exuberant fable of gold-rush California whose determined heroine gets her man while the noose hangs high. Patricia Racette sings the Girl, one of Puccini’s toughest assignments, in a rambunctious co-production with the English National Opera.

In ’57, Mozart’s Così fan Tutte; in ’16, Mozart’s Don Giovanni: the greatest go-to-hell opera ever written, opening July 2. The show’s got everything—rape, murder, fisticuffs and a vengeful ghost, plus that libertine Don Juan who doesn’t give a damn (until he does). Daniel Okulitch, seen in his birthday suit, sort of, as Menotti’s Last Savage here in 2011, is the don.

Traditionally, every summer includes a rarity or an established piece as yet unknown here. John Crosby was no friend to the serious 19th-century French repertory, witness that Faust, delayed for 54 years. Bizet’s Pearl Fishers finally got a hearing in 2012. Now up, another Gounod on July 16: his Bardic comedy with a sad ending, Roméo et Juliette. Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello embody the star-crossed, with SFO’s chief conductor, Harry Bicket, in the pit.

Crosby pioneered Richard Strauss’ lesser-known operas, with the company proffering six American premieres during the Crosby years. Ariadne auf Naxos had appeared in season one; his final opera, Capriccio (a premier in 1958), opens July 23. Billed as “a conversation piece,” there’s nothing quite like it in the operatic repertory. Will the Countess Madeleine choose the poet or the composer? And with the most glorious closing scene Strauss ever wrote, should we care?

Most seasons, SFO offers a premier, either American or world. In ’57, Marvin David Levy’s The Tower, a SFO commission, filled half of a double bill—an inventive one-act work that I recall with pleasure. Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs had been scheduled for 2016, now delayed till next summer. Samuel Barber’s haunting, haunted Vanessa takes its place on July 30. Menotti’s libretto hints at Dinesen, and Barber’s lush neo-Romantic score lingers in the ear. This may be the sleeper of the 60th.

Ageless Picasso once quipped, “One starts to get young at 60, and then it’s too late.” Sorry, Pablo. For the SFO, it’s just a beginning.


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