Theater and Surrounding Grounds
The Crosby Theatre
The striking, state-of-the-art, open-air theater has won several important design awards and is widely recognized for blending contemporary design aesthetics with traditional building materials. It commands a panorama of breathtaking scenery, with the Jemez Mountains to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. Over the years the building has evolved from a 480-seat structure built in 1957, with a balcony added several years later to a second built in 1968 after a fire burned the original theater to the ground during the 1967 performance season.
The current theatre opened in 1998 with a seating capacity of 2,128 and an additional 106 standing room places. Every seat and standing room position offers an Opera Titles screen—a digital computer screen on which instantaneous translations in English and Spanish are broadcast. The combined area of the sweeping stage and mezzanine roofs covers 26,615 square feet with a clerestory joining the two roofs. The "shape of the sound" inspired the roof concept. Its curves directly follow the acoustic reflections of sound from the stage to the audience. Another advantage of the large roof is its capability to collect rainwater; approximately 60,000 gallons can be stored annually and used to maintain the opera grounds.
The celebrated architectural firm James Stewart Polshek and Partners designed the building. Purcell & Noppe & Associates were the project acousticians.
Stieren Orchestra Hall
In 2001, Stieren Orchestra Hall, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Stieren, was constructed. The 12,650-square foot, three story building, also designed by Polshek and Partners, provides rehearsal space for the Opera orchestra and serves as the venue for the Prelude Talks which are offered to audience members before most performances. Upper and lower levels contain climate-controlled storage for the company's costume collection and private rehearsal studios. It has also become a center for the company to host lectures, special events, and recitals, as well as activities by other community arts organizations.
The Opera property totals 155 acres; the mesa-top portion is home to the Crosby Theater, Stieren Orchestra Hall, and patron parking. The lower grounds, to the northeast are called "The Ranch" as homage to the San Juan Ranch, a guest resort housed there for many years. The ten-acre campus of offices, cantina, swimming pool and an enormous sloping lawn with its mountain views is surrounded by numerous rehearsal halls all nestled into a hillside. Benches scattered among gardens, trees and shrubbery invite artists, crew and apprentices to chat or study or merely pause for a few minutes' rest. Swarming with musicians and technicians from May through August, the Opera Ranch also houses the year-round business of an international festival.
The Opera has created a plan to revitalize the historic ranch and structures and also build much-needed rehearsal halls with contributions made through the company's Building a Sound Future Campaign.
The Opera Environment
The Opera is also acutely aware of its fragile physical environment and has pioneered ways to conserve and protect the landscape. The County of Santa Fe and the Opera are currently constructing a new, state-of-the-art water treatment plant. Every year more of the landscaping is redesigned and replanted with drought-tolerant plants and shrubs.
Go to Your Visit to learn more about the Opera, Santa Fe, and northern New Mexico.