The opera may be drawing down and ballet is nowhere in sight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see world-class performances in the coming months. The Center for Contemporary Arts (1050 Old Pecos Trail, 505-982-1338, ccasantafe.org) has announced a nine-production series — six operas and three ballets from major companies and festivals around the world — running through December as part of its recently rechristened theater, Center for Contemporary Arts Cinema.
“There is so much that a movie theater can do other than movies,” says Peter Grendle, the group’s recently appointed cinema director. “Performance at CCA continues the grand tradition of showcasing the best in global performance for the best patrons on the globe, but unlike past iterations, CCA now has upgraded to a textured 7.1 sound system and exceptionally bright laser projection. You may have seen an opera in a cinema before, but never like this.”
The initial offering, a performance of Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette from the Gran Teatre del Liceu, in Barcelona, even has a local connection. The production originated at the Santa Fe Opera in 2016, and while director Stephen Lawless opted for a not-very-convincing concept (setting it in the American South at the end of the Civil War), the real reason to take in the opera is the four duets between the title characters.
The Liceu’s Juliette is Aida Garifullina, one of the most compelling young lyric sopranos in today’s music world; her Roméo is Saimir Pirgu, whom Santa Feans with long memories may recall from the 2004 La Sonnambula here. Roméo et Juliette screenings are at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 21 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26.
Renée Fleming fans will be especially pleased by this new series. The radiant soprano will be featured in three Richard Strauss operas, starting with a 2014 staging of Arabella from Austria’s Salzburg Festival, in which she’s partnered by baritone Thomas Hampson as Mandryka. Screenings are slated for Sept. 4 and 8.
Fleming returns in October as the Marschalin, her signature role, in a 2009 Der Rosenkavalier from the Baden-Baden Festival in Germany. It features a superb cast, including Sophie Koch (Octavian), Diana Damrau (Sophie), Franz Hawlata (Baron Ochs), and a young Jonas Kaufmann (Italian Singer). Her final Straussian excursion is in an Ariadne auf Naxos, also from Baden-Baden, to be screened here in December.
The dance side starts on Sept. 18 and 22 with you-know-who’s Ninth Symphony, choreographed by Maurice Béjart and featuring the Béjart Ballet and Tokyo Ballet. That’s followed in November by a Sleeping Beauty in the Rudolf Nureyev choreography, danced by Italy’s La Scala Theatre Ballet. The CCAC series also fills the holiday gap created when the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet dropped its main-stage productions by offering a version of The Nutcracker from the Zurich Opera. It’s slated for Dec. 23.