• Monday: 10am-5pm
  • Tuesday-Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 10am-5pm
  • Friday: 10am-7pm
  • Saturday: 10am-5pm
  • Sunday: 10am-5pm

1606 Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe, NM 87501


Bel Canto

Contemporary Artists Explore Opera

SITE Santa Fe presents Bel Canto: Contemporary Artists Explore Opera, an exhibition that examines themes of race, gender and class within the stories, traditions, architecture, and music of opera. The exhibition features the work of Vasco Araújo, Suzanne Bocanegra, Candida Höfer, William Kentridge, Guillermo Kuitca, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Matthias Schaller, and Bill Viola.

Among the works included are a film that provides a post-colonial take on Verdi; large-scale photographs of iconic opera houses that explore the architecture and order of social space; multiple installations that investigate the stories, music, sets and costumes of opera; drawings and collages that abstract opera design; and an installation of a fictional diva’s dressing room that examines gender roles. The first large-scale exhibition of its kind, Bel Canto will engage opera aficionados and novices alike, offering unexpected glimpses behind the scenes and deep into the cultures and histories that have influenced this iconic art form over the years.

Bel Canto’s exhibiting artists and works will include:

Vasco Araújo presents an installation of a fictional opera diva’s dressing room that plays with gender roles in the opera.

Suzanne Bocanegra presents a new work, with music by David Lang, inspired by Francois Poulenc’s 1956 opera Dialogues des Carmélites. 

Candida Höfer presents a series of meticulously composed photographs of some of the world’s most iconic opera houses that explore the grandeur, order, and energy of these spaces.

William Kentridge presents works that explore the stories, music, and politics of the opera.

Guillermo Kuitca presents drawings and collages that abstract opera house theatre floor plans to explore themes such as class and privilege.

Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA) presents Addio del Passato, a film that explores race and colonialism and features a stunning performance of an aria from the last act of Verdi’s opera La Traviata.

Matthias Schaller presents Fratelli d’Italia, 150 photographs of iconic Italian opera houses all shot from the vantage point of the stage.

Bill Viola presents Becoming Light (2005) a mesmerizing video inspired by the love story of the protagonists in Richard Wagner’s nineteenth-century opera, Tristan and Isolde.

The works in Bel Canto celebrate the grandeur and beauty of opera while challenging the viewer to delve deeper into history and narratives of opera that are often overlooked.

Bel Canto is accompanied by a weekly film screening of William Kentridge’s The Nose, 2013. (2:01 hours), Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich, Conductor: Pavel Smelkov, Librettist: Smitiri Schotakovich with Yevgeny Zamyatin, Gregory Ionin and Alexander Preis. Performed by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Acclaimed artist William Kentridge directed and designed this visually dazzling Met premiere production of Smitiri Shostakovich’s satirical opera, adapted from the classic short store by Nikolai Gogol. Baritone Paolo Szot leads the cast as Kovalyov, the hapless bureaucrat whose nose has mysteriously gone missing. Alexander Lewis and Andrey Popov co-star, and Pavel Smelkov conducts.

The Performance is screened for free each Friday, 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4 pm in the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Auditorium.

The Bel Canto catalogue will feature essays and artist entries by SITE’s Chief Curator Irene Hofmann and Assistant Curator Brandee Caoba.

This exhibition is supported by a lead grant from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation

Artist Bios

Candida Höfer


Irene Hofmann