Brenda Rae’s Santa Fe
An opera star’s take on the City Different.
With her powerful yet utterly bewitching vocals, soprano Brenda Rae has been captivating audiences for the past decade. This year she’s taken on the femme fatale starring role in Berg’s Lulu for the English National Opera, played the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and is currently starring at the Santa Fe Opera’s summer production of Lucia di Lammermoor. The iconic open-air Santa Fe Opera house is a favorite for Rae, who relishes performing with a stunning backdrop of the sunset transforming into a starry night sky. (See below for more on this season’s program.) This is her third time singing in Santa Fe, and it has quickly become one of her favorite cities. Here, Rae shares her favorite Santa Fe summer must-do’s:
Hiking at Hyde Park
One of the incredible things about Santa Fe is all the different landscapes it has in such a concentrated area. We are in the high desert, but when you travel up into the mountains you are surrounded by ponderosa pines and aspen trees. Hyde Memorial State Park, on the way to the Santa Fe ski basin, has some beautiful trails with gorgeous mountain views.
Chili & Chocolate
I can’t do anything too spicy, because it can mess with your singing, but I am a big fan of green chili peppers. The green chili from Shed Restaurant makes me feel warm right under my eyes without being too unbearably spicy. Every restaurant you go to here claims that they have the hottest, best chilis, whether red or green. It’s a very Santa Fe thing! And for something sweeter, Todos Santos has delicious chocolates that are also beautifully presented.
The Plaza Café is an Art Deco–style diner with a homey feeling and a friendly staff. They have incredible sopaipillas, a fried pastry that is airy in the middle and lightly flavored with cinnamon and topped with honey. They also serve Greek cuisine, a famous spaghetti and excellent huevos rancheros. They have everything.
Al Fresco Dining
La Casa Sena has a beautiful courtyard patio surrounded by tall green trees with beautiful twinkling lights. It’s magical.
Shopping For Baby
I am a new mother with a 15-month-old, so I’m looking at Santa Fe in a new way and finding special places for children I didn’t know existed before. A favorite is a really cute toy store called Toyopolis, with wonderful toys and clothes.
Hyde Memorial State Park: 740 Hyde Park Rd.; 505-983-7175
Shed Park: 113 E Palace Ave.; 505-982-9030
Todos Santos: 125 E Palace Ave. #31; 505-982-3855
Plaza Café: 54 Lincoln Ave.; 505-982-1664
La Casa Sena: 125 E Palace Ave. #20; 505-988-9232
Toyopolis: 150 Washington Ave.; 505-988-5422
Santa Fe Opera 2017 Highlights
“I am always drawn to characters whose goodness you can see—it makes it so much more tragic when you see their downfall,” says Brenda Rae. That makes Lucia di Lammermoor the perfect production for her. As Lucia, she takes on one of the most dramatic mad scenes in all of opera (and that is saying something), when the character suffers an emotional breakdown when pressured to marry the wrong man. “She has so much love for her family and her lover, and that is what tears her apart,” explains Rae.
Here’s what else is at Santa Fe Opera this season:
A world premiere from composer Mason Bates, this lauded production fuses traditional operatics with electronica and guitar as it chronicles Jobs’s search for inner peace.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s witty and melodic 1907 opera tells the tale of a bumbling monarch in love with his beautiful and beguiling enemy.
From a grand masked Viennese ball to the city jail, this waltz-filled opera by Strauss takes viewers on a champagne-filled night of intrigue and romance.
On an enchanted isle, the devoted Bradamante seeks to free her captive fiancé, bewitched under the temptress Alcina’s love spell in Handel’s opera seria.