The Guilds 
 of The Santa Fe Opera, Inc.

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A Narrative History of The Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera, Inc.
The 1970s


All ten meetings in 1970 were held at the Cordova Road branch of the First National Bank of Santa Fe, on the second Wednesday of each month. Guild, Inc. continued to court expansion. Mr. Purrington of the Association toured communities that expressed interest in the opera, carrying a photographic exhibit illustrating a complete spectrum of the opera's events. President Burch and Mrs. Kempter traveled to Carlsbad and Las Cruces. Gallup had elected officers, Artesia made inquiry, and there was another from Arizona regarding a possible Verde Valley Guild.

Two fund-raisers were sponsored - in August, a Vronsky-Babin concert to benefit an emergency fund drive, and in Maya very successful tour of European musical capitals. (More details in the section of fund-raising.) Three parties were held by the Guilds: a gala champagne reception, before the opera on opening night, a luncheon before one of the working rehearsals ($2.50  + $1 donation), and a supper party for the Apprentices after their August concert ($3, members only). The Association sponsored backstage tours from 2-4:00 p.m. every day from June 8 to August 23, with additional accommodations made for special group tours. For the first time, mention was made of the display of an SFO poster. A Guild newsletter was in the making. At the end of the year, $57,400 was transferred to the Opera.

Meetings in 1971 were held monthly at the bank, with the exception of an April meeting at the Sunroom of the Albuquerque Sunport. More sparkling fund-raisers were held, Youth Opera and Education programs were developing - there were now teachers' guides to be used before the slide/tape presentations. Another European tour was sold out - 171 persons, with a waiting list of 81;  $10,000 accrued to Guild, Inc. as a corollary of this delightfully successful trip. Membership tallies were wondrous: Albuquerque 1,046, Las Vegas 79, Los Alamos 486, Santa Fe 1,300±, Taos 187.
Late in the year, $66,000 was transferred to the Opera.

The Houston Grand Opera Guild invited the Association to choose a young lady representative of SFO to be an honoree at the Houston Grand Opera Ball, in November at the Shamrock-Hilton; Miss Sindell Neff was the first representative. There was now a committee in charge of luring new guilds, and they reported the beginnings of Verde Valley Guild in Cottonwood, Arizona (5 members); some of these attended opera in the summer. Gallup offered tour packages to opera performances, and numbers of children attended Youth Operas. Chama and Dulce boasted 64 members. Members of the Carlsbad Guild came to opera in a caravan of cars.

Repeated events included Apprentice concerts - two in August, and Santa Fe welcomed all Guild members to their annual June open house at the Ranch gardens. Espanola held an opening night dinner at El Nido, and in observance of the 15th anniversary year, Guild, Inc. and the Opera Association collaborated on a champagne celebration, with orchestra, after the performance on opening night.

End of the year suggestions which later were adopted included:

1.     To hold the annual meeting in September, and also elect officers then;

2.     To create a standardized membership card for all guilds;

3.     To list contributor's names in the opera program;

4.      To amend the by-laws to bring Guild, Inc.'s fiscal year into accord with that of the
ssociation, i.e., October 1 through September 30

Benefits of membership were now advertised as:

·       Synopses of the year's productions

·       Two working rehearsals open to members

·       Invitations to join group activities, such as Charter tours

·       Educational materials provided by Guild, Inc.

·       2-week option on ticket sales

Outgoing President Burch thanked all involved with the education programs, the Usher Corps, the Opera for Youth service, and the Volunteer program which had been established to help the opera staff on a regular basis. She expressed her hope for improved communication between the Boards of Guild, Inc. and that of the Association, suggested a change of meeting place, and recommended an all day spring seminar, with workshops.

Beginning in 1972, meetings were called on the second Friday of each month, to match those of the Association; with the exception of two which were held at the Board Room of the Santa Fe School Administration Building (at 610 Alta Vista), all were at the bank.

Two charter flights to Europe were offered, in May and October, with another for spring of 1973. And on October 1st, Guild, Inc. sponsored an Aspen Excursion on the Cumbres and Toltec Railway, to the high mountain country of New Mexico and Colorado.

There was still no Guild, Inc. newsletter, though several individual guilds were presenting theirs, and "Fanfare" was being issued by the Association. Volunteers were asked to serve as docents, Mrs. Motz, chairman; Mrs. Burch and Mr. Singer served as the New Guilds committee; in March, meetings were held in Las Cruces and Juarez, with the hope of starting a guild in that area, and in April, the Tri-State Guild was a reality. There was also suggestion of a new guild in Grants. At the annual meeting in September, over 3,500 members were announced; in the period January 1st, 1972 to September 30th, 1972, nearly $55,000 was transferred to the Opera; Santa Fe made the largest contribution of $26,000.

In the newly designated fiscal year - 1972-73 - all meetings continued at the bank, except for the annual meeting (September) which was held at the Airport Marina Hotel, in Albuquerque. Guild, Inc. continued to undertake a number of projects, notably a second Aspen Excursion in late September, charter trips to Europe in May and October, and plans for a Far East Tour in March of 1974.  The Guilds were asked to resume the docent program, and again sent a representative to the Houston Grand Opera Ball. A champagne reception was repeated on opening night, Opera posters were offered (by the Association), synopses of the season's operas were sent to Guild members, and all Angel and Patron donations were acknowledged in the program book.
The Guilds arranged to sell notepaper with an architect's sketch of the Opera House.

                                            "Support the Santa Fe Opera, 10 notes, 10 envelopes, $1.00"
                                          Architect's line-drawing of the opera theater
on notepaper first
                                                      sponsored for sale by Guild
, Inc. in 1973.

The August Apprentice concerts were open to the public, free of charge. In appreciation of the Usher Corps, sponsored by Guild, Inc., and chaired by Bette Winslow of Taos, medallions were awarded to members; Mr. Crosby praised the Corps as one of the most valuable contributions made by the Guilds. The Española Guild continued its now traditional opening night dinner at El Nido. Santa Fe Guild again held its June open house at the theater; it was also noted that they were selling a Fritz Scholder lithograph which could be seen in the Jamison Gallery, and "at the Opera Ranch on nice evenings."

President Singer left a detailed record of his tenure in the files; he was in touch with Guild officers through copious correspondence, and made trips to EI Paso to have discussions with Tri-State Guild, and also visited Artesia to encourage their efforts. 

1973/ 74
For 1973-1974, President Bodour proposed moving the monthly Guild meetings around the state, and this was achieved to a certain extent. Five sessions were again held at the Cordova Road branch bank, but the schedule, otherwise, varied: in January, 1974 the meeting was at the First National Bank in Albuquerque; in March at EI Pueblo State Bank, Espanola; in April at the Centinel Bank, Taos; and in June at the Museo de Artes e Historia, in Juarez, Mexico.
The annual September meeting was invited to the home of President Badour in Albuquerque; the
contribution to the Opera was $52,500. This may have been the year when the method of counting memberships changed to the one used today - 1,454 "family" memberships were reported, in contrast to 3,500+ in the preceding year.

The very successful Aspen trip was repeated, and the charter flight to the Orient brought a $1,000 gain. The opera office was this year moved from New York City to the Ranch; ticket prices for performances were increased. The Guilds had a membership blank in the opera program; posters were offered to the public at $2, and they were also sold at the Youth Operas. Tours of the Opera theater were arranged through Anke Kempter, Guild Liaison. Mrs. Kempter was authorized to spend fifty percent of her time with the Guilds, addressing meetings, helping with publicity, and as active liaison with the Opera Association. The Apprentice concerts in August were again admission free, and the notepaper project was continuing. The Albuquerque Guild added a president-elect position to their roster, and put on sale an R. C. Gorman lithograph; in particular, it was offered on opening night. A few male members joined the Usher Corps. And finally, happily, Guild, Inc. further discussed issuing a newsletter (the Association's "Fanfare" was no longer published), projecting 3 or 4 issues a year, possibly beginning in 1974, "a Guild, Inc. production with our own news for our members."

At the College of Santa Fe, a course on the season's operas began on June 10, for 8 weeks. The lectures were given by Mr. Edward Purrington, with a children's series on Saturday mornings, and another for adults on Monday evenings.

1974/ 75
In 1974-75, the Guilds held meetings every month except December, on the third Friday of the month. The first three were at the Cordova Road bank; thereafter, all meetings were held at various restaurants, at noon, with the business meeting following: at the Albuquerque Country Club, at the Compound, Bull Ring, and Palace restaurants in Santa Fe, three at the Sheraton Inn, and finally, the annual meeting at the Opera Ranch, with the Santa Fe directors of Guild, Inc. Board as luncheon hosts. There was improved attendance at these meetings; 35 enjoyed the September one.

To summarize the year's progress:

·       By-law changes included the addition of a president-elect to the board, and a minimum of 3 committee chairmen for Youth Opera, Education, and the Usher program.

·       The first newsletter was reported in January 1975, 1,474 were mailed, and it was suggested there be one spring and one fall issue. Peggy Zone was the first editor.

·       In a discussion of memberships, the previous categories persisted - regular $10, Angel $30, Patron $40, and a possible higher "sponsor" was suggested, but tabled. It was agreed that members who pay dues after August 15 or in September are considered members for the new year. And in reporting numbers of members, lithe count should be by family."

·       There were two Apprentice concerts, and three working rehearsals open to members. The opera office asked Guild, Inc. to officially sponsor the opera Docent program. It was so agreed, and Mrs. Homer Kenley appointed chairman.

·       A motion was passed for Guild, Inc. to join Opera Guilds International (OGl), and to consider attendance at the November conference in Fort Worth.

·       The Ushers Corps reported 300 volunteers.

·       The Carlsbad Guild regretfully dissolved in the spring.

·       Right up till this time, individual Guilds continued to make solicitations for the Opera Association, early in the year, in addition to their own membership drive.

·       Guild members sold Gift Certificates for performances, Mrs. Eugene Bertrand, chairman.

·       Mrs. Mayer, aware of such a project by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, suggested Guild, Inc. promote pre-opera dinner parties.

·       Santa Fe Guild offered Operatunity tours to the theater and interesting places in Santa Fe.

·       Another Aspen Excursion was planned for late September.

At the annual meeting, $50,378 was transferred to the Association, and 1,547 family memberships were reported. Mr. Crosby noted an increase in earned revenues (ticket sales, program ads, bar sales), partly due to increased attendance, and part due to “a subtle raise in pricing for tickets and drinks.” Ed Tatum, chairman of the Board of the Association, had happy news: "the acquisition of the San Juan Ranch property by the Association will be a dream come true. During the first ten years of operation - 1957-67, it was owned by the Crosbys. After the fire, the Association purchased the land the theater was built on, 70± acres on the right side of the driveway, and enough westward to protect. .. ; in 1974 and 1975, Mrs. Mayer and a San Juan Ranch Committee studied the possibility of completing the purchase of the rest of the Opera property… By early spring, the Association will own all of the land and buildings the opera uses, and be absolute owner of the water supply."

1975 / 76
Ten meetings of 1975-76 were held at the First National Bank of Santa Fe on the Plaza; the annual meeting was at the Opera Ranch. Some meetings were held on the second Friday of the month, others on the third. The annual gift to the Association was $64,000+, and there were 1,782 memberships. The traditional programs persisted - working rehearsals, Apprentice concerts, a newsletter, the distribution of synopses, and backstage tours. The sale of Gift Certificates was discontinued, and there was a transition from a volunteer usher corps to a paid one.

To celebrate the 20th year of the Santa Fe Opera, the Association published a book entitled "The First 20 Years," by Eleanor Scott. And the Education- Youth Opera committee produced a children's activity book "Operantics". Both publications were sold at the Opera from a table, with two volunteers at each performance; this sale was sponsored by the Association and Guild, Inc.; Pauline Bertrand was the chairman. In June, Los Alamos gave a party for the Apprentices, and in August, 20 years of posters were on display at the Governor's office. Also, on a Sunday in August there was a special benefit concert at the theater- "An Evening of American Musical Theater." In autumn, the Aspen trip was again a sell-out.

The Association announced the formation of a separate Foundation to handle endowment money for the Opera, and a 10 million dollar fund drive was launched.

1976 / 77
The meetings of 1976-77 were held at various locations: the first four at the First National Bank of Santa Fe on the Plaza, three at Bishop's Lodge, three at the Capital Bank on St. Michael's Drive, and at the Four Hills Country Club in Albuquerque for the annual meeting. At the latter, $55,800 was donated to the Opera; subsequent income made the final total in October $56,700.

President Rubenstein called for a Rap session in November; it was held at the home of Pat Wisenteiner in Santa Fe, for all Vice-Presidents of Guild, Inc., individual Guild Presidents, and interested members. The delegates shared ideas specifically on volunteers, fund-raising, membership, and education. In November also, Anke Kempter, Guild Liaison, distributed a brochure offering "Opera Christmas Gifts", apparently authored by the Association. Particularly exciting, on June 1 the Santa Fe Guild opened the Opera Shop, to be functioning "on performance evenings, during tours, and other specific times"; in addition to the two recently published books, some new merchandise was displayed. $6,500 was realized the first season.

Membership categories were now Regular $10, Angel $30, and Patron $50. One of the new benefits of membership would be a 10% discount on any Guild-sponsored item. And whereas the general public was now being charged for tours, Guild members would be welcomed free.

There were more outstanding events: Mr. Crosby gave a gift of land to the Opera, and August 22 was "Guild Night at the Opera" - the Association hosted a cocktail buffet and tickets for the performance of Falstaff. And further: there were two Guild attendees at the OGI conference in July, in Glens Falls, New York; Alan Pearson's course on opera was repeated at the College of Santa Fe ($35), posters were offered at $8, and Members-at-Large grew to 56 members. A new committee for Publicity was established, and the Espanola Guild held their membership party at the Governor's Mansion.

1977 / 78
Regular meetings were held in 1977-78 at the Capital Bank on St. Michael's Drive, with 4 exceptions: at the Hilton, at the Santa Fe National Bank on Washington Avenue, at the Daniels Insurance Company on St. Michael's Drive, and the annual meeting followed luncheon at the Palace Restaurant.

Los Alamos Guild's June Apprentice party was now a traditional success. Santa Fe Guild held its first opening night banquet at the Sweeney Convention Center. Santa Fe continued to sponsor an Opera Day at the Ranch in June; this occasion became more elaborate, featuring puppet shows, continuous backstage tours, a costume parade, ACTION: OPERA (the current Education program), and soft drinks and beer, noon till 3:00 p.m. The Guild also participated success fully in a Showcase home - Casa de Mayo, held a party for the stars for Angels and Patrons, and offered a lecture series in early summer. Most notable was the inauguration of a permanent opera shop on July 7th, 1978, actually a glorified push-cart near the box office during daytime hours, and in the theater patio at night. Offered for sale were libretti, silver and brass items, and T-shirts; Jeanne Kelly served as first chairman. The Guild proceeded with an application for a grant of $25,000 from Gulf Oil Corporation to build an opera shop building, but ultimately, this application was unrewarding.

This was the biggest year so far for the Docent program; 34 docents conducted 1,200 persons on 40 tours, in addition to the regular "box office tours" held Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, at l0 and 1 o'clock. Posters were sold at $10 and distributed free to Guild members at the annual meeting. The New Guilds Committee considered forming groups in Farmington and Alamogordo - the President and President-Elect visited those communities with ACTION: OPERA. And there was an inquiry from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, regarding the establishment of a guild there. A new Canteen was built for opera employees' meal service; this area is now the location of the very popular pre-opera buffets.

At the annual meeting there were 43 attendees. $61,500 was transferred to the Opera Association; there were 1,572 family members reported.

1978/ 79
In 1978-79 most meetings were held at the Capital Bank on St. Michael's Drive, with the exception of one at El Gancho Inn, and a second at La Fonda. The one at El Gancho featured a pre-meeting program by the Education committee; the New Mexico Children's Choir presented selections, Janice Felty and Chris Berg a program for the elementary school child, and "Less-than- an-hour with the Santa Fe Opera", various arias sung by John Reardon, Ellen Vincent, and Robert Chickering. In April, an evening at La Fonda, with cocktails and dinner, was highlighted with a speech by Senator (and Astronaut) Jack Schmitt. There was also a summer meeting at the Santa Fe home of Juanita Sena, and by this time, the annual meeting seemed to be a tradition at the Opera Ranch. On that occasion, $68,000 was given to the Association, and Mrs. Audrey Baird was guest speaker.

Unique and profitable fund-raisers continued to be the province of the individual guilds. Santa Fe held its splendid Christmas Bazaar at La Fonda, and later in the year offered a trip to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific Islands. Anke Kernpter Bunkin resigned after 17 years as a volunteer, and 6 on the staff (she was replaced by Saba McWilliams). And Mrs. Mayer resigned as president of the Association; the Association established a fund in her honor, to award money to an outstanding apprentice each year. There were two delegates to the OGI conference in Milwaukee, at which lady Heiken was made regional director for the Southwest. Effective October 1979, regular Guild dues were raised from $10 to $15 (this category had been $10 for 20 years). The New Guilds committee was in contact with persons in Farmington who wished to establish a guild, and at the annual meeting, members of a new Alamogordo chapter were introduced.

Summary of the 1970's Decade

In 1979, Guild, Inc. President Wisenteiner requested authority to purchase a four- drawer filing cabinet "so the archives of Guild, Inc. can be organized" - the material was overflowing a room in her home. From this it is obvious that the group was large, busy, and successful, and a summary of the period of the 70's will so indicate.

Board meetings were held at various locations in Santa Fe, and some in other Guild cities; annual meetings at the Opera Ranch were becoming a tradition. In September of 1972, the fiscal year was changed to coincide with that of the Association: October 1 - September 30, Anniversary donations ranged from a little over to a high of $68,000 at decade's end. At the end of this period, membership dues were $15 regular, $30 Angel, Patron $50.

Guild, Inc. sponsored a wide range of activities:

·       Backstage tours, first sponsored by the Association, were assumed by the Guilds' Committee of Docents.

·       The Usher Corps, a Guild volunteer group unti11976, when they were replaced with paid workers.

·       A Volunteer program was instituted to assist the Opera staff at particularly busy intervals.

·       Working rehearsals (2 or 3) were offered to Guild members, at least one embellished with a luncheon.

·       A course on the current season's operas was inaugurated in Santa Fe. Synopses of the operas were mailed each year to members. Apprentices were celebrated with parties for members.

·       Beginning in late 1976, Rap sessions (now Retreats) were held for Guild officers.

·       The Education committee produced "Operantics".

·       The newsletter made its debut, carrying news of the guilds to members.

·       Guild, Inc. joined Opera Guilds International.

Guild, Inc. also offered some particularly successful fund-raisers:

·       Several September Aspen Excursions.

·       European tours, as well as a charter flight to the Orient, and one Down-Under. A Vronsky-Babin benefit concert to help a budget crunch.

·       Instigated the sale of notepaper with a drawing of the opera theater.

Guilds, Inc., further, cooperated with the Association:

·       In distributing and selling Opera posters.

·       In selling Gift Certificates for performances.

·       In 1976, Guild, Inc. with the Association, sold copies of the 20 Year book, and Operantics, from a table at the performances.

·       Collaborated in presenting champagne receptions on opening night.

Individual guilds grew in strength in this decade, and all made splendid contributions to the Opera. Of interest is Los Alamos' Apprentice Party in 1975, which continues to the present, and Espanola's opening night dinner at El Nido, beginning in 1969, which mushroomed to several gala opening night affairs each year by five or six guilds as a regular occurrence. The Santa Fe Guild held its ninth Christmas Bazaar at La Fonda, and the June Opera Day developed from a garden party with backstage tours to one with numerous offerings derived from Guild, Inc.'s Education program. In 1977, the Opera Shop officially opened, and a permanent (in concept certainly, if not with edifice) one in July of 1978.

And finally, the decade saw the addition of new Guilds in Alamogordo, Carlsbad, and Tri-State, and inquires were received from Grants, Verde Valley, and Jackson Hole.

Click Here to go to Guilds History, the 1980s

The Guilds of The Santa Fe Opera, Incorporated
O. Box 2658

 (888) 666-3430, Ext. 100

A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Corporation founded in October 1963 

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