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Albuquerque Española Valley Los Alamos Santa Fe Taos Guild History

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


This history begins in the Fall of 1992 since The Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera History, written by Virginia Starquist ends in September of that year. We will attempt to do as thorough a job for 1992 to 2010 as she did for the years 1964 to 1991. We have followed her excellent format.

During the 1991 to 1992 year, the Guilds had contributed $152,500. This total included the profit from the pre-opera picnics. At the start of our new narrative, there were six active guilds: Albuquerque, Española, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Taos, and Tri-States.

Sharon GeistThe President was Sharon Geist

In October 1992 a retreat was held at St. Johns College in Santa Fe that was noted as a huge success with a large number of guild members in attendance. A volunteer consultant, Mrs. Joellyn Murphy, spoke to the group on "Vision for the Future". Addressing the guilds on the second day was Michal Kroth, an executive from PNM. Keynote speaker was Laura Threet, Secretary of Health Services for the State. As a result of this meeting, Guilds, Inc. board members voted to hold executive board meetings monthly. These were highly successful and helped bring the board into a more cohesive working unit.

Pre-opera picnics were initiated this year. Dr. Lawrence Cave from St. Johns College spoke to participants about the opera that first evening.

Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Man and the Thief was presented 20 times to upper grades by the Education Department with singers Deborah Maged, Candace Magner, Ann Wychoff and Ward Rudick with pianist, Ron Grinage. An Opera Mosaic for grades K thru 6 featuring Sherri Waters and Sam Shepparsen with pianist Lin Raymond was also presented. The total attendance was 17,214. The Youth Operas in 1992 were: Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, and The Beggars Opera.

In 1992 there was a Hospitality Committee for Guilds, Inc. Members were: Suzanne Bailey, Special Events; Marie Smith, Friends and Contributors Party; Anna Riddel, Opera Day at the Ranch; and Dorothy Erickson Tucker, Special Events.

Corinne Thevenet, Arts Advocacy Chairman, attended numerous meetings in conjunction with promoting the Arts and reported that the New Mexico Arts Commission meeting in June had approved $100,000 funding for The Santa Fe Opera.

Membership in the different guilds varied with some holding membership parties and others struggling from the lack of a membership chair.

The Albuquerque Opera Guild held a Membership Party as did the Taos Opera Guild, gaining new members at each function. The individual guilds held many and diverse social functions and fund raisers. Sometimes they enrolled new members. Albuquerque held an Opera Ball at the Marriott Hotel and raised $7,070 from a silent auction held during the event.

Los Alamos hosted a party for the Apprentice Artists of the Opera in July. The Santa Fe Opera Guild held a Holiday Bazaar in November, a Western Hoedown in May and a series of Opera-Tunity Tours in the Santa Fe area homes, raising $3,890. A Tea and Style Show in August, “Viva la Diferencia”, held at the Governor’s Mansion was a big hit and netted the Santa Fe Guild $6,574.

The Taos Opera Guild held its 7th Annual Christmas Gala at the San Geronimo Lodge, clearing $1,199. On June 19, the Taos Guild held an heirloom Auction at the Kachina Lodge that raised $5,165 for the guild. Taos also sold Christmas ornaments as a fund-raiser.

In 1993, the brochure was revised and it was anticipated that the new format would generate greater funding.

Sally Warner, Los Alamos, served as chair of the Docent Program. The Albuquerque Opera Guild underwent two changes in leadership in 1993 due to three deaths in their executive branch. A Guilds, Inc. retreat was held at the Barcelona Court in Albuquerque; however, no dates for this event were recorded.

A very successful “Day at the Opera Ranch” was televised by two TV stations and KHFM was also on location. A total attendance of 5,000 was estimated. Five opera guilds had stands at the event, with Santa Fe providing coffee and cupcakes; Los Alamos with hamburgers, iced tea and lemonade; Taos with desserts, pastries, and coffee; Albuquerque with popcorn, soda, and nachos; and Espanola with green chile stew, coffee, and sodas. Tri-State opened a Candy Shop.

Connie Gaussoin of the Pueblo Opera Program arranged for Cochiti Buffalo Dancers to be at the Opera entrance at 9:45am for the 10:00am opening.

There was an Opera Mosaic and the UNM Opera Studio singers presented arias and duets from the up-coming season. Arrangements were made by Robert Glick.

In 1993, Andrea Fellows became the Guilds’ liaison staff member and she prepared a map, schedule of events with location, times, and signs directing the public. Also, the Opera presented pins at a special "Thank You" reception for volunteers who reported 50 hours or more for the year.

Dr. Lawrence Cave presented the lectures at the Pre-Opera Buffets. A total of 18 events were hosted by the different guilds.

There were two very successful Youth Operas offered, but the third one did not meet with parent’s approval and was not well attended.

A raffle for a trip to France was a great success. Tickets sold for $25 each and the guilds made $20,000 from this project. The Opera had put the trip together and the fundraiser certainly paid off.

A Friends and Contributors Party was chaired by Marie Smith of the Hospitality Committee on June 11. Guild members provided finger food for approximately 200 guests. The artists were invited to meet with the guests and enjoyed the gathering very much. Coordinating Special Events was committee member, Suzanne Bailey, Albuquerque Guild.

Total membership, 1992/1993: 913
Guilds’ Contributions: A total of $203,900 was contributed to the Santa Fe Opera.

The President was Carol Thompson.

Carol Thompson began her term as president by scheduling a retreat in November. It was held at Anthony’s on the Delta in Española. Speakers during the day were opera personnel covering topics such as fund-raising, budget, publicity, and organizing special events. The information was well received by the members from the various guilds.

Sharon Geist, Development Chairman, and her committee comprised of Suzanne Bailey, Liz Romero, and Delores Thomas, with the assistance of Guilds’ liaison, Andrea Fellows, were successful in starting a guild in Roswell.

Controversy over the selection of operas for the Opera for Youth resulted in many meetings and discussions among guild members. The program title was changed to “Youth Night at the Opera” and a synopsis of the opera would be sent out with the ticket purchase leaving the decision to the parents on the suitability of each particular opera.

Youth Night tickets were sold out this year. However, a problem arose with the lack of chaperones for some large groups. Plans were made to correct this problem before the next opera season.

After many years of volunteering as chairman of the Backstage Tour Program, Sally Werner stated she could no longer do it alone. It was agreed that this program become a part of the opera company staff’s responsibility and it proved to be a successful transition.

Bobbie Adelman and Helen Vanni, co-chairs of the Education Committee, presented an Opera Mosaic to area schools throughout New Mexico and in El Paso. A total of 56 performances for the schools, three performances for guild members and one performance at Day at the Opera Ranch for a total of 20,638 attending.

A Day at the Opera Ranch, chaired by Suzanne Romero, was held on May 14 on the Opera grounds. Presentations included Cochiti dancers with Connie Gaussoin (POP chairman) making the arrangements. Opera mosaics were presented, the UNM studio singers presented arias and duets of the up-coming opera season. Backstage Tours and student-produced operas were presented during the day by three different school groups: E. J. Martinez Elementary, Sweeney Elementary, and Agua Fria and Gonzales Elementary. Also St. Catherine Indian School performed.

Participating for the day’s activities were all the guilds with different tables selling coffee, pastries, BBQ and Frito pies, cold drinks, etc. The event was coordinated by Andrea Fellows, staff liaison.

The Contributor’s Party was held in the opera bar on June 10. Chair of this event was Sadie Knight of the Taos guild. Approximately 275 people attended. Food was provided by the different guilds; however, due to the large attendance, the food ran out early and late arrivals were disappointed. Guilds, Inc. recommended that the party be taken over by the Opera Company.

Eight pre-opera suppers and eight pre-opera dessert-coffees were hosted by the different guilds for the 1994 opera season with great success. A total of 2,240 people attended, with gross income of $53,449.55, half this amount being credited to the guilds.

A printed sheet with instructions for host guild members was prepared and mailed by Andrea Fellows.

The Education Committee urged Guilds, Inc. to purchase a keyboard, as the cost of renting one at each performance was a large expense. The guilds agreed to purchase a keyboard for $2,793.63 and, during the first year, about $2,000 was saved.

Nearly 4,000 hours of volunteer work was reported by committee members.

Total membership: unknown
Guilds’ contributions, 1993 to 1994: The Guilds, Inc. contribution was $149,458.44. This included activities such as the Valentine’s Day Party and Auction, Wine Tasting, Western Hoedown and Auction, Opening Night Dinner, Tours, Pre-Opera Buffets, and a Milan Trip Raffle.

Carol Thompson continued as President for a second year.

There was a scarcity of records kept for the fiscal year 1994 to 1995. After searching the archives at The Santa Fe Opera Ranch, we discovered that Andrea Fellows Walters became Director of Education and Communication Programs and, for a period of time, SFO did not have a Guilds and Volunteers Liaison staff person. For some reason, no annual report was published and therefore, only bits and pieces of information were collected from correspondence and the files kept by the president of the Taos Opera Guild.

The Guilds held a retreat on January 28, 1994, at the Eldorado’s Old House Restaurant. No notes were located about the program that day.

New membership brochures were printed with the membership-at-large category eliminated, and all benefits to Guild and SFO donors were to be the same for the equal amount donated. These memberships were to be on an annual basis.

The raffle held for a trip to England and Ireland netted a total of $22,000 for Guilds, Inc. Linda Downey-Fine spearheaded this successful fundraiser.

Total membership, 1994/1995: unknown
Guilds’ contributions: $105,000

Continue to 1996–1999