Like pretty much all of Santa Fe's most popular and highly attended yearly cultural offerings, the Santa Fe Opera was not immune to a pandemic-spurred cancelation of its 2020 season. Still, its myriad employees have continued working toward its 2021 season, and the internationally-renowned organization announced today it has named a new Chief Artistic Officer.
David Lomelí, a former opera singer himself (tenor, if you're curious), comes to SFO from The Dallas Opera, where he'll continue on in a consultant role. He'll also maintain a position as a casting consultant for the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Germany, which he's held since 2014.
Lomelí has graced international stages as a vocalist in the past, including SFO's own Crosby Theater, but his new job finds him taking over for outgoing Artistic Director Alexander Neef, who recently accepted the director position with the Paris Opera, and Director of Artistic Administration Brad Woolbright, who retires this year after more than four decades with with the local company.
"The Santa Fe Opera holds a great deal of meaning for me personally and as an artist. I am excited and grateful to become a part of its history," Lomelí says in a press release. "Through our shared values of hard work, creativity, compassion, empathy and diversity, we will keep welcoming the world's most exciting artists to the incredible creative center that is the Santa Fe Opera."
"David has had a pretty tremendous career," SFO General Director Robert K. Meya tells SFR. "He has a really great network, which I think is so important for the Santa Fe Opera."
Meya says Lomelí retired from performance in 2013, and has since built international relationships in the opera world from an administrative vantage. In his new role, Lomelí will oversee the hundreds of performers, designers, costumers, lighters, apprentices, auditioners, orchestra members, et al, and also conduct casting for future shows.
"He's exactly the right guy for the job," Meya adds, noting that Loemlí and his family will relocate to Santa Fe full-time from Dallas.
SFO also announced its 2021 season today: 30 performances across four shows, which is scaled back from its usual five. In addition to the world premiere of John Corigliano and Mark Adamo's The Lord of Cries, performances of mainstays A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Marriage of Figaro and Eugene Onegin are slated.
As for whether patrons will actually be able to attend the shows, Meya tells SFR the company has been working at a fever pitch to ensure COVID-19 safety is of paramount consideration.
"It remains our fervent hope that we will have a season, and we're moving forward with that intent," he says.
To do so, Meya explains, has included regular contact with the state, evolving seating plans for smaller audiences and the creation of a new full-time position known as the COVID Compliance and Safety Officer. Additionally, safety company Production Safe Zone, which works within entertainment fields to conduct testing and help maintain performer and worker social distancing protocols among other duties, will be on hand as it has on numerous Netflix productions shooting in the state, according to Meya.
Tailgating parties SFO parking lot are still on the table as well, Meya says—so long as attendees take vehicle and party spacing seriously. Think of it like the AMP Concerts outdoor events at HIPICO over last summer. Between parking lot parties and the open air Crosby Theater, though, SFR is already in a better position to reopen than most other, similar venues across the country.
"We will spare no expense in creating the safest environment," Meya says. "The key thing everyone is looking at is airflow and fresh air, so to be an outdoor space might place us as one of the first operas to reopen in the country."
SFO's 2021 season is scheduled to begin July 10 and run through August 27.