Taos Opera Institute Celebrates its Sixth Year in Taos Ski Valley



The first thing I noticed upon arriving in Taos was the music.  Live music was everywhere.  Good music by talented musicians.  Anything and everything you can imagine:  rock, country, jazz, alternative, reggae, classical, and yes – opera.  And part of the opera scene here is the renowned Taos Opera Institute (TOI).

TOITOI is a highly intensive program for the serious singer, held annually in beautiful Taos Ski Valley.  Singers from around the country audition for the privilege of participating in this program, which is designed to bridge the gap between academia and opera apprenticeships.  Graduates are prepared for careers in regional, national, and international opera companies.

The TOI Festival is a series of free performances of the world’s most beloved opera arias, featuring the Taos Opera Institute Singers and the Cantos de Taos quartet.  Concerts are performed during the month of June at various locations throughout Taos and Santa Fe.  The final performance is a gala fundraising event on June 29th at the Taos Center for the Arts.  The Gala, which is a ticketed event ($25 per person) includes a pre-concert reception, raffle and showcases individual singers and ensembles from the entire Institute.

Taos Ski Valley performances include:

  • Saturday, June 1 – Opening performance in our lovely garden right here at the Edelweiss Lodge & Spa
  • Sunday, June 9 – Resort Center Stage
  • Sunday, June 16 – Resort Center Stage


For a complete schedule, click here.

The Taos Opera Institute was founded and continues to be directed by Mary Jane Johnson and Linda Poetschke.

Linda Poetschke
Linda Poetschke

Professor Poetschke is on the University of Texas at San Antonio faculty as Voice Area Coordinator, Voice.   The soprano has been the featured soloist with the New Mexico Symphony, the Charlotte (NC) Symphony, the Western Michigan Symphony and with the major symphony orchestras in her home state of Texas, including the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas POPS at the Meyerson and numerous appearances with the San Antonio Symphony. She has also performed as soprano soloist with the New York West End Chamber Ensemble in a Carnegie Hall appearance of REQUIEM by W.A. Mozart. Ms. Poetschke’s orchestral repertoire encompasses more than 40 oratorical and concert roles, and she has appeared under the baton of Margaret Hillis, Nicholas McGegan, Christopher Wilkins, Elmer Iseler, Lawrence Leighton Smith, Roger Melone, John Silantien, and Kate Tamarkian.

mary jane johnson
Mary Jane Johnson

Mary Jane Johnson is counted amongst the great dramatic sopranos, and is considered one of opera’s premiere interpreters.  Her career highlights include the role of Emilia Marty in Janacek’s The Makropoulos Case, which she sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth as well as Katarina Ismailova in Shostakovitch’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, which she performed at the Opera Bastille of Paris.  She has also performed the Shostakovitch as well as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, and Strauss’ Salome at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

Ms. Johnson’s career went to the next level when she appeared with Luciano Pavarotti in a televised performance as Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme with the Opera Company of Philadelphia.  Other important highlights of Ms. Johnson’s television appearances include the nationally televised Pavarotti Plus Gala, Live from Lincoln Center and the CBS “Sunday Morning” with Charles Kuralt.

 LA BOHEME : Luciano Pavarotti – Leyla Guimaraes – Mary Jane Johnson – Franco Sioli – Laslzo Polgar

We’ll be feeding these talented young singers at The Blonde Bear Tavern throughout the month of June, something we look forward to each year.  Their talent is always inspiring.

I can’t recommend these performances enough for any lover of music, especially classic opera.  The setting is magnificent, with the Sangre de Cristo mountains as backdrop for the two Sunday outdoor concerts.

Toi, toi, toi!


New Mexico’s Top Chefs




A James Beard Award is considered by many to be the most prestigious recognition an American food professional can achieve.  As the foundation notes on its website:

“The Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America.  The awards are presented each spring at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.  Nominees and winners are fêted at a weekend of events in New York City that has become the social and gastronomic highlight of the year.”

The 2013 James Beard awards were announced earlier this month.  So in the latest edition of  New Mexico magazine, Cheryl Alters Jamison writes about New Mexico’s previous winners and nominees, who “have put the state on the national culinary map.”  They include:





Jamison ends the article with “Chefs to Watch”, including this:

Jon Mudder: The Blonde Bear Tavern and Café Naranja, Edelweiss Lodge and Spa, Taos Ski Valley  The chef-restaurateur was the driving force behind a much-loved but now-closed Greenwich Village trattoria, Bellavitae. According to many reports, Mudder has been raising the quality of food at the Edelweiss restaurants to levels that approach to TSV’s altitude. Expect mountain comfort food here, with European and New Mexican touches. 106 Sutton Place; (800) 458-8754; edelweisslodgeandspa.com/dining



The seven “Chefs to Watch” include:


Read the entire article here.

New Mexico’s culinary arena, with its world-class restaurants, wineries, ranches, cooking schools, and distilleries, is fascinating to explore.  Click on a few of the links above and investigate for yourself.

Be enchanted.