Revolution, Lust and Spinach Enchiladas in Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Opera: Tosca
As far as operatic repertoire is concerned, Tosca is a war horse. But what a war horse it is, containing some of the most poignant and beautiful arias ever written for the human voice. This musical gift was given to us by composer Giacomo Puccini, whose other famous works include La Boheme, Madama Butterfly and Turandot). Tosca,
written in 1900, tells the story of painter, Mario Cavaradossi, and his “Diva” lover, Floria Tosca. They live engulfed in the decadence and corruption of Rome in 1800. It’s the time of Napoleonic conquest, so there’s revolution in the air in support of Italy’s independence. Both Cavaradosi and Tosca are embroiled in all of this intrigue, as Cavaradosi befriends a deposed Consul named Angelotti, who has just escaped from prison.
In hot pursuit, is the sadistic, lustful and pseudo-religious Chief of Police, Scarpia who delights in torturing and executing anyone who stands in his way. It’s no surprise Scarpia wants to ravish the beautiful Floria Tosca and disposing of Cavaradossi would be most helpful in fulfilling his lascivious desires.
All of the leads in this performance have strong, competent voices including Leah Hawkins, as Tosca, Joshua Guerrero, as Cavaradossi, (through August 1st), and an appropriately sinister, and sex obsessed Scarpia sung by baritone Reginald Smith Jr. I’ve always enjoyed listening to the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, with musicians from orchestras all around the country who choose to work and spend their summers in the Land of Enchantment. The sound they produce is generally first rate.
As in many operas, just about everyone dies in the end. In this production, Tosca strangles Scarpia, Cavaradossi is executed and Tosca commits suicide. In other words, there’s hardly a dull moment with everyone lusting and dying by the minute.
The settings in this production by Dirctor Keith Warner were inspired by a painting, “Red Tower,” by the surrealist Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978). I found it a bit claustrophobic, however I imagine many patrons will approve.
If all of this live drama isn’t enough to motivate you to attend, then consider the magic of witnessing this great opera in a striking outdoor setting. The Santa Fe theatre makes good use of the desert back drop and accompanied by the seductive breeze of a warm summer night and occasional thunder claps and brilliant flashes of lightning that haunt the sky during “Monsoon Season,” the whole experience can be other worldly.
Like everything these days, tickets to the opera are pricey. ($50 – $350) But for those whose financial portfolios are thin, standing room seats are available. And if you’re bold and adventuresome, positioning yourself outside the main gate with a sign asking for a ticket (or two) accompanied by a forlorn expression might warm the heart of a patron with a ticket to spare and get you inside for free!
The Santa Fe Opera
Performances are July 8,14,21 (at 8:30pm),
August 1, 7, 12, 19, 23, 26.
Box Office 505-986-5900 or
I arrived in Santa Fe way back in 1978; however it took several years before I first visited La Choza; perhaps it was because it’s tucked away on a side street off Cerrillos Road, with a confusing little street as an entry point. Anyway, I finally made it. Now, years later, this Mexican restaurant has become a Santa Fe institution. No wonder. The food is excellent, and has a distinctive flare that sets it apart from the dozens of other Mexican/New Mexican eateries in town.
My partner and me arrived there on a Sunday. The restaurant opens at 11:00. When we arrived at 11:20 am the place was almost filled! Had we gotten there fifteen minutes later we would have been facing at least a 30 minute wait. But don’t let this discourage you. Once inside, you’ll find a colorful adobe building decorated in subtle, eye appealing colors, along with a lovely umbrella decked patio.
The staff were friendly and attentive; even though there were lots of customers, our orders were delivered quickly and efficiently. I selected the fish tacos, while my companion ordered the spinach enchiladas. When I think of enchiladas, chicken usually comes to mind. However after eating a sample of my partner’s spinach enchiladas they immediately became my new favorite Mexican dish, especially with the nicely spiced red chili sauce that overflowed on the plate. My own order of fish tacos was really wonderful. I would recommend both dishes.
La Choza is pet friendly and has take out and delivery services. Both vegetarian and meat dishes are available. You can also ask your wait person to have the chefs prepare a gluten free meal – which doesn’t mean it won’t be spicy! Prices are mostly in the $11 to $15 range. In addition there is a variety of “designer” margaritas, with names like “Smoke and Fire” and “The Rebel” on the bar menu, in case you’d like a little buzz for the rest of the day to accompany your meal.
By all means pay La Choza a visit this summer! You won’t be disappointed!
905 Alarid Street
Open: 11:00 am -2:30 pm /
4:30 pm – 9:00pm