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History of the Guilds of The Santa Fe Opera, Inc.

1980 through 1989s

Opera House 1980The new decade of the 1980s was embraced by Guild, Inc. as an opportunity to learn and grow, to build further on the base so strongly constructed in the early years. Most meetings of 1979-80 were held at the Capital Bank on St. Michael’s Drive, except for an evening meeting at El Gancho, one nearly all day at Bishop’s Lodge, and of course, the annual meeting at the Opera Ranch. At the end of the fiscal year, $70,000 was turned over to the Association (this later increased to $72,000).

A new guild was organized in 1980 — Mesilla Valley Guild, in the Las Cruces area, and there was interest expressed in Socorro and Roswell. A new membership category of Saint, at $100, was approved. Three Newsletters yearly were proposed, and a name sought. The docent program was revised and expanded, to be responsible for all opera tours.

Newly presented was a “Preview Party” for Patrons ($50 category), at the opera theater in June, with tours; this was staged by the Santa Fe Guild. And Edgar Daniels, Hospitality chairman, offered parties to opera-interested groups requesting tickets to the opera, as well as to OGI chapters. A cocktail buffet in a charming Santa Fe home, before a performance ($10 per person), these were sponsored by Guild, Inc.

With few exceptions, the board meetings of 1980-81 were held at El Gancho Inn; there was one at the Capital Bank, and one each at Bishop’s Lodge and Inn at Loretto. The annual meeting was newly interesting in format — there were backstage tours and workshops at the Opera Ranch at 9:00 a.m., and luncheon at noon at the Hilton Inn, followed by a 1:00 p.m. meeting. At that time, opera posters were distributed, eight per Guild, to be used as door prizes, gifts, raffles, or sold at $25 each. The efforts of Guild members to support the Opera continued to astound; $97,000 was transferred to the Association.

There were small changes in the by-laws: President-Elect would now be First Vice- President, with the President having the option of serving two years; and the working time for the Nominating Committee was increased from three to five months, with a chairman chosen each year. There was a new Post Office box for Guild, Inc. — Box 2658, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501.

The Opera Guilds International regional convention was hosted in July at the Inn at Loretto, and speakers, meetings, and workshops were followed by gala dinners, an opera performance, and an evening with Maria Benitez, Flamenco artist. Santa Fe Guild held a party in June for Patron and Saint members; also in the same month, “Opera Day at the Ranch” (noon till 5 p.m.) was presented, with tours and entertainment. The Opera Shop opened in a new, permanent structure, located “in the petunias” near the gate. President Jody Heiken visited Lubbock, Texas, and Hobbs, New Mexico where interest was shown in establishing new guilds.

In 1981-82, President Sally Warner enjoyed calling her meetings at various, interesting locations. Three were held at El Gancho, the final ones before it converted to a private club. Three others were held at the Capital Bank, two at the Sheraton Inn, (one of these was extended to include morning workshops and lunch), and one at the Santa Fe Downs, following luncheon there at the Jockey Club. In June, Sally entertained at luncheon in her Los Alamos home, with the meeting immediately following. The annual meeting was again at the Hilton Inn.

Minor changes occurred in some departments. The newsletter untill now had consisted of two large, and one smaller issue, but it was decided to produce one regular large issue, and two smaller announcement-type summer ones. It was also suggested the editor be assisted by a mailing chairman. Backstage tours began in July, at 2:00 PM, Tuesdays through Saturdays; members were not charged, non-members $2, and children $1. At the annual meeting, it was agreed to raise the non-member fee to $3.00 (the profit for the season was $2,600).

The idea of opening night dinners seemed to be approaching a pleasant, profitable tradition; there were five offered this season:

· by the Albuquerque Guild, at the Horwitch home in Santa Fe;
· by Espanola, at the Steaksmith;
· by Los Alamos, at the Sheraton Inn;
· by Santa Fe, at El Nido;
· and by Taos, at Las Brazas.

It was decided that in future, these Guild dinners be publicized in the ticket brochure mailing.

A report was made to Guild, Inc. on the Foundation, organized in 1976: Mr. Perlmutter of Denver, President, and Jerry Geist, Corporate chairman. In addition to serving as an income cushion, the fund will be used for apprenticeships and assistantships, and capital improvements at the opera, such as the enlarged box office, and renovation of the west wing of the Ranch, both of which were underway at the close of the season.

Suzie Storr and Sally Warner went to Denver to meet with people who wished to organize a guild there; that group postponed plans. Alamosa, Colorado, also expressed an interest. A house in Casa Solana was offered for raffle, for the benefit of Guild, Inc. — 2,000 tickets at $100 were suggested, but after due consideration the idea was abandoned.

At the annual meeting, Marty Noss was introduced as Public Relations Coordinator, and Liaison between the Opera Association and Guild, Inc. $87,000 was donated to the Opera.

As of 1982-83 meetings were held at the Capital Bank, with the exception of a luncheon meeting in August at Sally Warner’s Los Alamos home, and the annual meeting at the Opera Ranch, following a pot-luck buffet. The schedule was consistent —- every second Friday, at 1:00 p.m.

A new guild at Angel Fire was established by November 1982, with Shirley Downey as first president. They immediately embarked on a series of social affairs, culminating in their opening night dinner (with other Northern New Mexico Guilds) at the Governor’s Mansion. Santa Fe celebrated the debut of their Cookbook with a party at the Santa Fe Country Club, and opened a branch of the Opera Shop at La Posada; they also put on sale Kevin Redstar lithographs, "Ready for the Opera." New backstage tour directors were Mary Curtis Warten and Henry Warten, synopses were included in the Newsletter mailing, and two August Apprentice concerts were offered ($5 per person). The first meeting of the Long Range Planning Committee was held May 13, 1983, at which there was discussion of Education, Board Development, Finance, and Public Relations.

The colorful gypsy wagon used in the last year’s production of Mignon was given to Guild, Inc. by the property department; a raffle netted $700±. The Association held a sparkling benefit luncheon at the Ranch in August, which netted $10,000, and a Christmas party in Santa Fe was planned.

At the annual meeting $95,000 was donated to the Opera.

Under President Judy Worcester, the 1983-84 meetings were again held at a number of locations: three at the Opera Ranch, two in the board room of Montgomery and Andrews law firm, two at La Posada, one at the Bull Ring Restaurant, one at the Bank of Santa Fe on Washington Avenue and the annual meeting at West hall of the Opera Ranch — all these in Santa Fe. Additionally, the February meeting was at the Four Hills Country Club in Albuquerque.

During this year, two Guilds disbanded: Alamogordo, and Mesilla Valley. In Farmington, a "Friends of Opera" pocket group was formed, under the leadership of Hugh Harvey. Opera Day at the Ranch (May 26) was sponsored by Guild, Inc. for the first time. It was so successful, it promised to continue as an annual affair with Marie Smith as its first chairman. A Retreat for Guild, Inc. and individual Guild officers was held in May. Opera staff members addressed the group, and there was discussion of the responsibilities of officers. In August, the Association luncheon on the Opera grounds honored Mr. Crosby, and the Guilds. The Association also planned Christmas parties (1984) at homes in Santa Fe and Corrales.

Bill Hinrichs talked about the season’s to groups in Guild cities. Along with Helen Vanni, Gene Rush, and Ben Hazard, Bill Hinrichs offered a lecture series at the College of Santa Fe in June and July (four lectures $15, individual sessions $4). It was decided to allow senior citizens, in groups of 20 or more, to purchase tickets for Youth Operas for $5.00; this to be at the discretion of the box office. The Docents reported over 3,000 persons, including 1,192 children, toured backstage ($1,762 net). In April, an Opera Poster Preview and cocktail reception was held in Santa Fe, honoring the artist, the photographer Eliot Porter. The box-office at the Opera resumed the sale of gift certificates. Santa Fe Guild continued to present a “Spotlight Luncheon with the Stars,” and sold a special edition of their cookbook, with bookplates signed by John Crosby. Guild members were invited to attend four working rehearsals.

At the annual meeting in September, Judy Worcester used for the first time the gavel presented to Guild, Inc. by the Association. Members of the Opera staff were introduced by Marty Noss, and Dr. Gerety, chairman of SFO, announced the appointment of Mr. Anthony Riolo as executive director. $108,500 was donated to the Association; a tally of Guild gifts was published:

Albuquerque: 275 members, $17,000
Angel Fire: 27 members, $3,423
Española: 47 members, $2,500
Las Vegas: 47 members, $1,000
Los Alamos: 121 members, $6,000
Santa F: 499 members, $72,000
Taos: 47 members, $2,000
Tri-State: 83 members, $2,000
Members-at-Large: 36 members, $1,190

Four board meetings in 1984-85 were convened at the Opera Ranch, one at the Marriott Hotel in Albuquerque, in April at the Juarez Museum of Art, Juarez, Mexico, and one each at La Posada and the Bank of Santa Fe. The July meeting followed luncheon at the home of President Mary Rush in Los Alamos, and the annual meeting was held at the Sheraton Inn.

There were a number of innovations introduced in this calendar year. In conjunction with the January board meeting, Bill Hinrichs conducted “Opera Workshop at the Ranch.”

Guild, Inc. Becomes Guilds, Inc.

The Opera Association of New Mexico changed its name to The Santa Fe Opera, Inc. At the annual meeting, New Mexico Opera Guild, Inc. became Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera, Inc. The Guilds also moved to be more flexible with their bank depository — now monies were deposited in the Bank of Santa Fe, as well as at the First National Bank of Santa Fe. Mr. Dewey Anderson was introduced as the new Director of Development.

The June lecture series was presented at the Sharp Gallery on Water Street, $10 for four lectures, $3 for individual sessions. The second Eliot Porter poster, a mate of the 1984 issue, was introduced in April at a party at the First Interstate Bank; 188 were sold that day, 8,000 each of 1984 and 1985 posters having been printed. The Christmas parties hosted by the Opera in Santa Fe and Albuquerque raised $35,000±. An August Brunch in the Ranch gardens spotlighted the Apprentice program, and kicked-off National Advisory Board Week.

Santa Fe’s Guild’s opening night dinner was at Casa Sena, and at a later performance they sold suppers for a tailgate picnic in the theater parking lot. A 1986 calendar commemorating the 30th anniversary season was sold at the Opera Shop. Albuquerque raffled an exotic necklace.

There was interest in forming a guild in Raton. Guild membership information will next year be included in fund-drive mailings, increased membership being an urgent goal. $100,850 was the season’s gift from the Guilds.

In 1985-86, President Pam Coleman called the first six meetings of the Board at the Opera Ranch. There followed three “on-the-road” – at Casa Europa in Taos, in Santa Fe at the Eldorado Hotel conference room, and at the Western Holiday Motel in Española.

The Santa Fe Opera hosted Christmas parties in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, with Ashley Putnam and Brent Ellis performing. At the theatre, more floors were added backstage. In April, a Poster party at the First Interstate Bank was presented in collaboration with the Santa Fe Guild. Ticket brochures were mailed in January, and members and contributors were offered ticket priority until February 20. Exciting plans were made for the 30th season Gala.

Guilds, Inc. began hosting the Patron-Saint party in the Opera Club in June, and Opera Day at the Ranch (May 17) was conducted by the Hospitality committee, with the generous assistance of the Education committee. Betty Harrington Harvey, chairman of Hospitality, was with her committee charged with setting up two Guilds, Inc. buffet dinner parties at the Opera Ranch Cantina, preceding the two Apprentice concerts ($20). The lecture series (on the season’s operas) was held at the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts. The category Members-at-Large showed tremendous growth as a consequence of mention in the ticket brochure mailing – up 588.8% over last be the inclusion of guild membership information in the Opera’s mailings resulted in approximately $10,000 income from Members-At-Large, as well as additional members for individual guilds amounitng to $5,000.

Delores Thomas was appointed regional director of OGI for the Southwest.

The annual meeting in September followed a pot-luck luncheon at the Ranch; $137,000 was presented to the Opera.

Beginning in 1986-87, President Anneke Chittim called board meetings every other month, for a total of six. (A Saturday "special" meeting was held in November for all officers.) Four were held at the Ranch, and two at the law firm of White, Koch, Kelly, & McCarthy.

Immediate past-president Pam Coleman began compiling a handbook of procedures and standing rules for Guild officers. Each guild sponsored one or more pre-opera dinners at the Cantina, and Guilds, Inc. hosted the two before the Apprentice concerts. The gala planned for the opening week of the Opera involved for the first time Guild volunteers in many aspects of the arrangements. The education committee persisted in wondrous acts of imagination and instruction, producing “Opera Mosaic” performances, puppet shows, and a pilot program which incorporated opera into the school curricula. In May, at Opera Day, “"So You Want to be an Opera Star?” was presented, with John Reardon as master of ceremonies.

At the annual meeting, $170,000 was contributed, exceeding the projected $150,000. But it was announced, regrettably, that the Las Vegas Guild was dissolved.

In 1987-88 all meetings were held at the Opera Ranch, with the one exception, in summer at the home of President Chittim. In addition, in November, a special “retreat” was offered, for re- orientation and review of officers’ responsibilities, idea exchange, and long-range planning. And in April, a Seminar was conducted at the Eldorado Hotel by Audrey Baird, Director of Audience Development for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Guilds, Inc. sponsored this special event for board members and officers. Mrs. Baird addressed such topics as:

  1. Guild / Staff / Board Relations that Work
  2. Marketing your Guild
  3. Motivate, Motivate, Motivate — Exciting, Successful Leadership
  4. Volunteers and Professionals Working Together
  5. ntroduction of Opera Guilds Leadership Handbook

Particular changes implemented that year included:

  1. The by-laws were amended to turn over uncommitted funds on a quarterly basis.
  2. The Outreach committee was deleted from the roster.
  3. The number of pre-opera dinners was increased to 15, and there were 8 dates in the discussion series at the Museum of Fine Arts.
  4. The membership chairman requested a uniform membership/acknowledgement card be printed for all Guilds to use.
  5. Early in the year, the cost of backstage tours increased to $5 for adults, $2.50 children and seniors,; at the annual meeting there was a further alteration: one price of $5.00; children must be at least 7 years of age, and those 7-15 years admitted free during the opera season.

There was news from the Santa Fe Opera, Inc. also:

  1. The Opera resumed hosting a Brunch the first Sunday in August.
  2. Announced a new entrance to the opera to be built, plus additional parking for 250 cars.
  3. Only donors of $100 or more will be acknowledged in the opera program

The education committee programs reached over 20,000 children. 36 opera mosaics and 15 puppet shows were given. And in January, a special program was presented in Albuquerque at a conference of New Mexico elementary, secondary, and post-secondary music teachers.

At the annual meeting, it was voted to increase membership dues:

· Regular, from $15 to $25
· Angel, from $30 to $50
· Patron, from $50 to $75
· Saint, to remain at $100

The annual contribution to the Opera totaled $172,000, with Guild tallies as follows:
Albuquerque: $21,974
Angel Fire: $6,639
Española: $6,423
Los Alamos: $7,500
Santa Fe: $115,000
Taos: $10,000
Tri-State: $7,019
Members-at-Large: $7,990

Four of the six board meetings of 1988-89 were held at the Opera Ranch, two at the Eldorado Hotel. In March, there were two pre-meeting presentations: Sharon Geist gave a slide/tape production of Ravel’s L’ Enfant et Les Sortiléges (The Child and the Sorcerer) and Ron Kron held a brief workshop on “Writing a Press Release.” The May meeting was preceded by backstage tours, and lunch at the Opera Cantina. There was an Angel-Patron-Saint party in June, Opera Day at the Ranch expanded with a number of food booths, and there were pre-opera buffets. The preview discussion series was presented at the Fine Arts Museum in the summer on ten Tuesdays at Noon.

The Education committee basked in the glory of presenting at least two firsts: education was on the agenda of the SFO board meeting in May; Face on the Barroom Floor was performed, followed by a cocktail reception. Also, the Santa Fe Public Library presented Face to an audience of children and adults at the main facility. A student membership category ($10) called WOW—Welcome to the Opera World was established for high school and college students. WOW posters and T-shirts were natural corollaries, and by July, there were 30 members. Last, but not least, Bob Sykes, regional director of Opera Guilds International, presented an award from OGI recognizing the Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera for the most outstanding education program in the Southwest/Pacific region for 1989 (that region being comprised of 19 Guilds).

The 1989 poster reproduced a painting by Martin Hennings, a Taos artist. A fundraiser, tag-a-long tour was offered, “Grand Opera in the Canyons.” Anneke Chittim, Development Chair, assembled a register of past-presidents of all the Guilds. And President Delores Thomas was requested by the SFO Board to serve as Gala chairman for Santa Fe.

There was inquiry from the Roswell/Artesia area for a possible new Guild. And sadly, at the end of the fiscal year, Angel Fire Guild disbanded. Thirty-six members attended the annual meeting at the Ranch, following the now traditional champagne reception and luncheon. The contribution to the Opera was announced by Treasurer Betty Dunstan: we remember her asking “Are you ready for this? — $209,053!”

Summary of the 1980s
Another decade of miracles has drawn to a close. Whatever the Guilds were doing seemed to be right, if the size of the annual contribution is an indication — from $72,000 in 1980, to $209,053 in 1989. Meetings were held in numerous locations in Santa Fe - at banks and law offices, at hotels and restaurants — even at the Santa Fe Downs, and a tradition began of annual celebrations at the Opera Ranch. There were a few out-of-town meetings, in Albuquerque Espanola, Taos, and Juarez, and three at the homes of presidents, in Santa Fe and Los Alamos. By 1986-87, regular meetings were called every other month, an arrangement which persists.

Mesilla Valley became a Guild in 1980, disbanding in 1984, Angel Fire had a Guild 1982-1989; Alamogordo and Las Vegas were also lost in this decade. There were changes in the structure of the Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera:

  1. In 1985, the name was changed from New Mexico Opera Guild, Inc. to the current one.
  2. A “Saint” category was added to the membership, and the WOW group welcomed young people. Members-at-Large became a major unit after guild membership was offered in the opera mailings; and finally, most categories increased in price.
  3. The Opera Shop set up in a new permanent structure with every-increasing revenues.

There were embellishments to tried-and-true events, and some new offerings:

  1. A Handbook for Guild officers was produced.
  2. A separate Post Office box was acquired.
  3. Valuable lessons were learned at an Audrey Baird seminar; the creation of the post of Historian was one consequence.
  4. The Guild, Inc. Newsletter was named NewSFOcus.
  5. “Opera Day at the Ranch” offered expanded entertainment, and lunch for sale; by 1984 it was sponsored by Guild, Inc.
  6. A regular lecture series was presented before and during the opera season.
  7. Poster parties usually present the new work, and introduce the artist.
  8. What began as a Preview Party for Patrons, was enlarged to include Patrons and Saints, and finally is now the Angel/Patron/Saint party, held in June at the Opera Club, and under the aegis of Guilds, Inc. since 1986.
  9. The cocktail buffets in Santa Fe homes begun in 1980 by the Hospitality chairman, became in 1986 pre-opera buffets held at the Cantina ever since. Each guild participates as host and beneficiary; there have been as many as 15 in a season.
  10. Opening night dinners at outside locations were first held by Española, then by Santa Fe, and now most Guilds consider this a tradition.
  11. The education committee enlarged its activities till their presentations reach over 20,000 children in many areas of the state, this in addition to Youth Operas and Puppet shows.
  12. A regional meeting of OGI was held at Inn at Loretto in 1981; in 1991 there will be a grander one at the Eldorado Hotel, with more attendees, and a very large array of workshops and celebratory events.

Continue to Part 2: 1992–2010