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  • Melissa Kirk, Viola

How We Spend Our Summer Months #2: Playing More Operas!

Around the middle of June every year my family packs up our dog, two cats, two children, a viola, a bassoon and a contrabassoon, and makes the trip west to Santa Fe, New Mexico My husband Lew and I have played in the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra for over 25 years. It is a very special place for us as we met while playing there! Yes, it is a lot of opera, but I have always enjoyed performing with this excellent orchestra made up of players from all over the country in a stunningly beautiful setting, the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. We love the great sunsets, food, hiking, and exploring the state from Carlsbad Caverns in the South to Bandelier National Monument in the North. A trip to the hiking trails is only a forty-five minute drive into the mountains and for a nature lover like me this is heavenly. No wonder we get so many summer visitors! Occasionally we have the opportunity to perform with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival as well, always a musical treat.

The SFO was founded in 1956 by John Crosby, then a young aspiring conductor. It is famous for premiers, both national and international. This summer we will perform a world premier by American composer Jennifer Higdon, “Cold Mountain” in addition to four other operas in rotation. Highlights include Strauss’s “Salome” with conductor David Robertson, and Mozart’s lesser known comedy, “La Finta Giardiniera” with chief conductor Harry Bicket, also a favorite at Lyric. The singers for the Summer boast alumni of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center, Emily Fons, Roger Honeywell, Quinn Kelsey and Susanna Phillips. The season runs from July through the end of August (

We are joined by fellow Lyric Opera Orchestra members pictured above. From left to right, Mark Fisher, trombone; Melissa Kirk, viola; Mark Brandfonbrener, cello; Kathleen Brauer, violin; and Lewis Kirk, bassoon.

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