A Vision of Voices

A destination for thousands of opera lovers every year and the anchor of Santa Fe’s thriving arts scene, The Santa Fe Opera owes its existence to the vision and hard work of one man: John O’Hea Crosby (1926–2002), who created the company when he was only thirty years old and guided its fortunes for the next forty-five years. This book, the first in-depth exploration of Crosby’s career, shows how the Opera reflected his passions for music and the arts.

A Vision of Voices depicts the many sides of Crosby—a dreamer and tough-minded businessman, an artistic explorer and conservative programmer, and a competent conductor and sharp critic. His devotion to quality and his obsessive oversight bore an enduring harvest that forever changed Santa Fe, the state of New Mexico, and the operatic world.

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University of New Mexico Press

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“Meticulously researched and elegantly presented … Craig Smith is a masterful writer and he has done both The Santa Fe Opera and its founder proud.”
:: Live/Out Loud magazine, Santa Fe | February 2016 | Full review
“In this meticulously researched, handsomely produced biography, Smith’s style is admirably direct and unfettered.”
:: OPERA magazine, London | September 2015 | Full review
“Smith can’t get inside Crosby’s head, but he does the next best thing, and without whitewashing any of Crosby’s unpleasant characteristics, he manages to convey how, in spite of them, this difficult man was able to enlist fellow believers in pursuit of a singular vision.”
:: Opera News | August 2015 | Full review
“Santa Fe Opera’s distinguished history of Strauss productions is examined, along with a great deal else, in Craig A. Smith’s detailed and readable study, “A Vision of Voices: John Crosby and the Santa Fe Opera,” recently published by University of New Mexico Press. …”
:: Chicago Tribune | 11 August 2015 | Full review
“To read Craig Smith’s recent biography of Santa Fe Opera founder and longtime general director John Crosby is to marvel at the summer festival’s history of bold programming. …”
:: Albuquerque Journal | 27 July 2015 | Full review
“But Smith, an arts writer for the Santa Fe New Mexican for 20 years, has exhaustively documented his work, and he certainly brings to life a fascinating and perplexing character. This is an important book about an important figure in American cultural history.”
:: Dallas Morning News | 17 July 2015 | Full review
“… Smith’s book provides a well-paced, intimate, insight-rich look at Crosby’s formative years, his 40-plus years as SFO’s general director, and his legacy.”
:: New Mexico Magazine | July 2015 | Full review
“Whether the reader is deeply ensconced in art music or a neophyte interested in how the other half lives, Smith’s book is a perfect summertime ticket to a program both profound and pleasant.”
:: Weekly Alibi (Albuquerque) | July 2015 | Full review
From the Armchair :: Reader Impressions
Charles MacKay

“Craig Smith has created a vivid portrait of John Crosby, capturing the essence of the brilliant and complicated man who founded The Santa Fe Opera and devoted his life to making it a world-renowned success. The book will be a treasure for anyone who knows this company, appreciates the art form or may simply be curious about the man who conjured an opera company out of thin air in the most unlikely – and the most magical — of places. It is an essential chronicle in the annals of American musical history.”

:: Charles MacKay | General Director . The Santa Fe Opera
Keith Jameson

“Continued success and accolades for your beautiful book. I so enjoyed reading it and reliving my memories of Santa Fe Opera and Mr. Crosby. Thank you for giving us this!”

:: Keith Jameson | Acclaimed tenor and former Apprentice Artist
“What a smoothly flowing and most interesting and informative read. There was so much information that I did not know and it was quite meaningful to see how all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle came together in the life and times of Mr. Crosby. Congratulations on this terrific document with wonderful photos.”
:: Michael Udow | Longtime percussionist for The Santa Fe Opera
“Congratulations on this wonderful tome. You have shown so much sensitivity as well as honesty with addressing John Crosby, an often difficult man. That you mentioned his striving for excellence so often in your text was important personally to me.”
:: Joan Williams Churchill | Designer (and former apprentice for The Santa Fe Opera)
Brad Woolbright

“Having worked at the side of John Crosby for twenty-three years of my professional life, I salute Craig Smith and “A Vision of Voices” for capturing the true spirit and genius of the maestro and founder of The Santa Fe Opera.  The book is an absolute must read for any person interested in the message of operatic music and what it brings to our individual and collective lives.  For those who never knew John Crosby, you will put down the book and feel that you were right there with him as he founded and nourished what has become a great American cultural institution.”

:: Brad Woolbright | Director of Artistic Administration . The Santa Fe Opera
“This is a touching remembrance of John Crosby for all those who intersected him at Santa Fe. With much love and respect to other brilliant people I’ve worked with, Crosby was the single most influential individual in my entire career.”
:: Dan Duro | Technical and Production Director, 1982-1990 . The Santa Fe Opera