For the past four years I’ve spent a few of the summer weeks in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon. They are two cities so different from each other and so different from NYC.
Santa Fe has the sobriquet, the city different, but its original name is far grander: La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís “The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi”
As most people know, there’s no such thing as a direct route from NYC to Santa Fe. It’s more of a squiggle: Newark to Houston to Albuquerque to Santa Fe. The Pony Express would have been quicker and the service (United) much better.
The minute I’m in the southwest, I’m aware of space and sky. It affects my mood. I become less NYC tense, competitive, suspicious, pushy. My manners improve. I use cuss words far less often. Friendly, laid-back and courteous describe most of the people.
I like to cook and usually rent a place with a kitchen. It’s a good way to become reacquainted with Santa Fe friends. A gluten free meal was requested. I headed to Sprouts, a Whole Foods lookalike. We had the usual snacks: mozzarella balls, olives, crackers (gluten free), followed by cucumber, tomato, dill, arugala salad, ravioli (gluten free) in a mushroom, edamame, garlic, shallot sauce with parmegiano on the side. Imagine my horror when I tossed the ravioli into boiling water and they dissolved into a slimy mess. Ravioli made with wheat are a cinch to cook. Put them into boiling salted water and they’re done when they float to the top. Dessert was a gluten free cake. Never again.
On July 26, friends and I went to a buffet dinner at the Santa Fe opera site and under a huge and sturdy tent watch a storm rage around us: lightening, thunder, the works. My umbrella was tucked away in my suitcase, of course. We were lucky. There was a perfectly timed break in the storm. We scurried up the hill to the opera house. The stage is open on three sides to make use of the glorious New Mexico landscape. As the opera unfolded, the sun set leaving streaky light across the western sky.The seats are as comfortable as the ones in Alice Tully. Last night’s performance was wonderful. DiDonato and Brownlee were spectacular. They had just flown in from performing the opera at Covent Garden. The big surprise (to me) was Mariana Pizzolato a mezzo-soprano who was as good as the other two. Tomorrow we’re returning for another buffet supper and Oscar.
July 27: Talk about contrast between stormy weathered but deliciously anticipated La Donna del Lago and tonight’s balmy weather and sizzling but well bred excitement about a new and politically motivated opera. At tonight’s buffet, an Engllsh woman with the improbable name of Electra/ Brunhilde (?) did what she’s been doing for years. She gave a talk about the background of the opera. Being Oscar’s opening night, she and the crowd were fired up by the significance of gay rights and the coincidence of the Supreme Court decision. The English accent does help. Once again, Wilde was proclaimed a great writer (Oh?) and we went through his tragic tale. I could do without these adult education courses at dinner, but most of the crowd seemed to like it. I’m so glad I attended the performance with a retired singer and was I grateful for my own private tutorial. Oscar’s composer is Theodore Morrison, quite young. This is his first opera. The music was big and green – exciting in a modern way. Most modern music sounds similar to me: John Corigliano, John Adams and to my tin ear you could include Morrison. David Daniels sang Oscar. A dancer represented Lord Alfred Douglas. He flitted in and out of the scenes contributing not a whit. Most opera dancing makes my blood boil. It was thrilling to be at the event and quite moving to see how happy so many couples were. Lordy, it could have been a Judson Memorial Church Sunday. On to Portland!