Making Magic and Managing Mayhem Backstage with Mike Ortiz, Technical Director and Tracy Armagost, Production & Recruiting Coordinator

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Flash floods. Supply chain issues. Safety briefings. Would you believe this is opera?

Host Jane Trembley discovers that only at Santa Fe Opera does behind-the-scenes excitement rival onstage drama. She chats with Production & Recruiting Coordinator Tracy Armagost and Technical Director Mike Ortiz, the supportive, creative pair behind SFO backstage team. Tracy and Mike share their long histories with the opera, some of the magical (and nerve wracking!) moments they’ve helped bring to the stage, and exciting maneuvers to pay attention to in the upcoming season.

“Our jobs mingle quite a bit, especially with the scheduling personnel management, on-stage rehearsals,” says Tracy of the day-to-day interaction she and Mike share. While that interaction peaks during the summer months, year-round communication between their departments is vital to maintaining SFO’s reputation as a world-class arts organization.

Consider the weather-related variables of staging massive productions in an open-air theatre sat in the middle of a desert. Throw in the watchful eyes of audience members who prefer to observe change-overs at intermission rather than grab a refreshment in the lobby. Mike and Tracy fit these puzzle pieces (and many more) together on a per-show basis––often years before a production even lands on the stage.

Safety is an additional concern for this duo. The onstage choreography between people and sets requires repeated practice to execute without endangering anyone. “There are sometimes multiple thousand-pound pieces of scenery moving really fast to get from point A to point B,” says Mike. “You could very easily get run over.”

Both Tracy and Mike agree that as demanding as SFO productions are, there’s no place like it in all of opera. “It’s a unique place,” says Mike. “I'm very fortunate to have been able to climb the ladder here, to have a successful career, and be home in Santa Fe.”


Hosted by Jane Trembley


Mike Ortiz

Technical Director, Santa Fe Opera

Tracy Armagost

Production & Recruiting Coordinator, 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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