Creating New Worlds with Costume Director Blair Gulledge and Properties Director Eileen Garcia

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Bringing fantastical worlds to the Santa Fe Opera stage requires creativity, communication, and compassion. Host Jane Trembley chats with Costume Director Blair Gulledge and Properties Director Eileen Garcia about the intense year-round effort that goes into planning and implementing the designs for each season. She also learns how these two department heads collaborate with one another and their commitment to providing a kinder, more supportive working environment for their teams, colleagues, and the Opera’s guest performers.

Scenery may set the stage, but costumes and props establish character, telegraph motivation, and advance the action. “What I love about this discipline is just that level of collaboration. You're not doing art in a vacuum,” says Blair, who will oversee the completion of 500+ costumes for this season alone.

Sure, creating alongside performing artists and backstage artisans at such a high level is available through other theatrical genres. But none deliver the visceral or emotional impact of opera––and few do so in a setting as celebrated as SFO.

Maintaining creative excellence involves meeting the needs of singers, designers, and support staff equally, even when not convenient. Both Blair and Eileen know they’ve realized that objective when the magic onstage looks effortless without testing the safety or sanity of those backstage.

“My goal is just to help tell that story, but it does require a balance and a delicacy,” Blair admits. That’s where having a holistic approach to expectations and artistry works in everyone’s favor, including the audience.

Eileen agrees. “You really can see that designer’s original vision come to life,” she says, adding that the creative teams couldn’t accomplish such astounding theatrical feats without having first “built that relationship based in trust and understanding of what our capabilities are here at the Opera.”


Blair Gulledge

Costume Director, Santa Fe Opera

Eileen Garcia

Properties Director, Santa Fe Opera


Destination Santa Fe Opera is a Santa Fe Opera podcast, produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.

Post-Production Audio: Edwin R. Ruiz

Hosted by: Jane Trembley

Show Notes by: Lisa Widder


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