Two major operas in the historic opera house, two one-acts in alternative venues
By Peter Alexander
The Central City Opera, having impressively opened their 2015 summer season last Saturday (July 11) with a highly satisfying production of Verdi’s La Traviata, has now announced their 2016 summer season of performances in Central City. There will be two major productions in the historic Central City Opera House, and two one-act operas in alternative locations in Central City, during a season that runs from July 9 to Aug. 7.
The season will open July 9 with a 60th-anniversary production of The Ballad of Baby Doe by Douglas Moore, which had its world premiere at the Central City Opera in 1956. Based on the true story of two of Colorado’s colorful figures from the days of the silver boom, roughly 1879 to 1893, the English-language opera has enjoyed considerable success since its first performances in the Central City Opera House.
The opera is the tale of a classic love triangle: Horace Tabor, known as “The Bonanza King” of Leadville, Colo., was a respectably married businessman and politician. In the 1880s, at the height of the silver boom, he met and fell in love with Elizabeth “Baby Doe” McCourt. He divorced his wife, Augusta Tabor, and married Baby Doe in Washington, D.C, in 1883. Their society wedding was considered the scandal of the age. Not long after, the collapse of the silver market wiped out Tabor’s fortune. After he died in 1899, Baby Doe lived on in poverty at the Matchless Mine—now a tourist attraction in Leadville—until her death in 1935.
The Ballad of Baby Doe will run in repertory at the Central City Opera House through Aug. 6, 2016.
Tosca, Puccini’s tragic opera of passion and betrayal, will be Central City Opera’s second offering of the 2016 Festival. This production opens on July 16 and runs through Aug. 7, 2016, also in the Central City Opera House.
One of the most popular operas in the repertoire, Tosca is set in 1800 Rome. It follows the story of a fiery prima donna, Floria Tosca, who struggles to rescue her true love, the painter Mario Cavaradossi, from the clutches of Baron Scarpia, the evil chief of police. Tosca will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.
“It’s a lullaby to New York,” composer John Musto said on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. He was talking about his opera Later the Same Evening, which will be the third offering of Central City Opera’s 2016 Festival. One of the two one-acts to be presented next summer, this contemporary opera with a libretto by Mark Campbell had its professional premiere at Glimmerglass Opera in 2011.
The opera imagines the lives of the figures in five paintings by American painter Edward Hopper, weaving a narrative that connects them on a single night in New York City in 1932. Later the Same Evening will be performed in English at an alternative venue in Central City.
As its final production for 2016, Central City Opera presents Mozart’s comic one-act opera, The Impresario. The opera tells the whimsical story of an entrepreneur who is required to put together a company of actors and singers while dealing with their whims, rivalries and demands for exorbitant amounts of money. Through a number of twists and turns, the performers and the impresario find a way to reconcile all in the end. The Impresario will be performed in English at an alternative venue in Central City.
This season of four operas follows several years when Central City Opera has sought new audiences around Colorado, first by presenting musicals in Denver, and now this year by taking one-act chamber operas on tour to smaller venues in Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins. The 2016 season follows the general plan of the current season, with two major productions in the Central City Opera House and two smaller productions in other locations; touring performances for the one-act operas have not been announced for 2016.
“We have been experimenting over the past few seasons with the way we deliver our product,” Central City Opera general director Pelham (Pat) Pearce says. “While we met thousands of new friends through our offerings presented in Denver at the Buell and the Ellie, we determined that the most important thing Central City Opera can provide to our patrons—in addition to a great production—is the truly unique experience we provide in Central City.”
Additional performance dates, as well as artistic staff announcements and casting for the 2016 Summer Festival, will be announced at a later date. Subscription packages for the 2016 Festival will go on sale in the fall of 2015. Further information on the 2016 season will be available at the Central City Opera Web page.
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Central City Opera
2016 Summer Season
The Ballad of Baby Doe by Douglas Moore (60th-anniversary production)
July 9–Aug. 6, Central City Opera House
Tosca by Giacomo Puccini
July 16–Aug. 7, Central City Opera House
Later the Same Evening by John Musto
Dates and location in Central City tba
The Impresario by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Dates and location in Central City tba
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There will be a collaborative program with the Boulder Philharmonic during the spring of 2016:
St. Matthew Passion
by J.S. Bach
Semi-staged production by the Boulder Philharmonic, Central City Opera, Boulder Bach Festival & CU Choruses
Michael Butterman, conductor
7 p.m. April 23, 2016, Macky Auditorium, Boulder