Casts are drawn from the world's most talented young singers, and production teams of conductors, directors, and designers are international as well. It is a source of considerable pride that many singers whose names are now found on the rosters of the world's leading opera houses began their careers in Santa Fe. They include Susan Graham, Patricia Racette, Joyce DiDonato, William Burden, Kristine Jepson, Michelle DeYoung, and Charles Castronovo.
The company was founded by the late John Crosby, a young conductor from New York, who had an idea of starting an opera company to give American singers an opportunity to learn and perform new roles in a setting that allowed ample time to rehearse and prepare each production. At the same time, a program for young singers who were making a transition from academic to professional life, the Apprentice Program for Singers, was begun. Fifteen hundred aspiring singers have participated in the program. Many are performers, others are teachers, coaches and pedagogues. In 1965, an apprentice program for theater technicians was added, and it too has become an important training tool. Richard Gaddes is the General Director of the company, having assumed the position in 2000.