Central City Opera has released the following statement, cancelling all performances through July 24:
In consultation with our medical partners and in order to protect the health and safety of patrons, artists and staff, all Festival performances scheduled for Tuesday, July 19 through Sunday, July 24 have been cancelled.
Due to recently reported COVID-19 cases in the company, Central City Opera has made the difficult decision to cancel all festival performances for this week. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we navigate these challenging circumstances in order to protect the health and safety of our community.
We sincerely apologize for this disappointment and inconvenience. We are working with our medical consultants to ensure we are taking the appropriate steps when we resume performances. We hope that we can reseat as many patrons as possible for the following week’s performances, but we may not be able to guarantee that all patrons will be reseated.
Details for ticket holders may be found on the CCO Web page.
Rollicking comedy and light-hearted drama lead the summer schedule
By Peter Alexander July 8 at 5:30 p.m.
There will be no babies thrown into the fire (Il Trovatore, 2018), or innocent girls murdered in place of a dissolute count (Rigoletto, 2021) at Central City Opera this summer.
CCO has not been able to perform in their exquisite opera house in Central City since 2019, and between returning to their home and this year’s 90th anniversary, the company wanted a cheerful summer. In the words of Central City Opera chief executive officer Pamela Pantos, the aim was that “after what we’ve all been thorough, people will come and smile, be back in the opera house and enjoy themselves.”
Both mainstage productions in the Central City Opera House will be light-hearted works: the frothy Viennese confection of Johann Strauss, Jr., Die Fledermaus; and The Light in the Piazza, a Tony-winning Broadway musical by Adam Guettel, which has moments of melancholy but ends happily with boy-marries-girl.
The only darker tones come later in the summer, with a production of Two Remain, a chamber opera by Jake Heggie based on the stories of two Auschwitz survivors. That will be performed at the Martin Foundry in Central City (see dates and time below).
Broadway musicals have often been performed by Central City Opera: Carousel (2021), Man of La Mancha (2015), The Sound of Music (Denver, 2014), Show Boat (Denver, 2013), Oklahoma! (2012) among others. Pantos hopes that there will be ongoing support for musical comedies, for the breadth they bring to the repertoire.
A Light in the Piazza tells the story of 1950s American housewife Margaret Johnson and her daughter Clara—who seems to be developmentally disabled from a childhood accident. This being a musical, Clara falls in love with a handsome young Italian man, and Margaret has to decide if the young couple will be allowed to see each other, and ultimately, to marry.
The conflict revolves around Margaret’s desire to protect her daughter, and to let her live her own life. There are also cultural differences between the Americans and the Italians, which create another level of dilemma for everyone. With her husband busy in the United States, Margaret has to find her own path, just as Clara does.
“While there are moments of seriousness to the piece, it is quite lighthearted,” Pantos says. “It had a long run on the stage in New York, (and) Tony-winning is always Tony winning! There’s a little bit of melancholy, but beautiful music—it is a romance!”
Composed by the grandson of Broadway legend Richard Rodgers, A Light in the Piazza reflects the style and traditions of 20th-century American Music Theater. Die Fledermaus, however, reflects just as deeply the style and manner of a very different world: that of 19th-century Vienna. There are swirling waltzes (of course), a grand party thrown by a bored Russian count, mistaken identities and masks, and hilarious comedy from beginning to end, all capturing the splendor and decadence of Imperial Vienna.
The plot is almost too complicated to explain, except that it is a tale of foolishness, and of revenge between friends, that starts in an elegant home and ends in a dreary prison, with a glamorous dinner party in between. But even in the prison, everyone comes away happy. The musical numbers will be performed in German but the dialog in English so everyone should be able to follow the story.
The Viennese musical style, combining elegance and sentimentality, is not always easy for non-native performers. There are unwritten rules for modifying rhythms and tempos that are known to the Viennese, but not necessarily outsiders—kind of like the unwritten rules in American jazz.
“The trick in getting Fledermaus right is all of the little things that aren’t on the page,” conductor John Baril says. “There’s a lot of little Viennese things that are done, especially in waltz tempi. You rush the second beat—it’s not written down that way so you have to explain it to an orchestra.
“And then you also have to get them to not play it when you don’t want it. There’s a lot of little things that are traditions, little slow-downs here and little commas there. None of that is written, it all has to be explained. And getting singers to do that and not just do what’s written on the page can be hard.”
One traditional showstopper is a very flashy Hungarian Czardas, sung by one of the characters in the second act. “It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever conducted,” Baril says. “It’s super hard to conduct because again everything that the singer needs to do with that piece, to make it interesting, is not on the page.“
In addition to singing one of the lead characters himself, Baril says he has studied recordings and performances by native Austrian and Viennese conductors. “I’m going to do it the way I want to do it,” he says. “And the way I want to do it is all the Viennese things that I’ve heard done.”
Baril mentions one other challenge to any performances at Central City Opera. “We’re at 8500 ft., and some of the phrasings that you could do at sea level you simply cannot do,” he says. “We never know—there’s no way TO know—when a new artist is coming up here, whether they can adapt.”
The production is one that CCO bought from Virginia Opera and modified to fit their small stage. “I saw the set at Northwestern and it’s beautiful,” Baril says. “It is a set that takes place in Vienna, so it will be as Viennese as we can make it.
“I love Fledermaus. I think it’s a masterpiece of the order of anything else.”
Pantos wants people to make the trip up the mountain to Central City to see the shows, but also just to experience the intimate 550-seat opera house, built in 1878. “Being in such a jewel of a theater and being so close to the stage, you have the unique opportunity of experiencing theater in a way that you’ll never experience it anywhere else,” she says.
“Because it is such an intimate theater, there is not a bad seat in the entire house. You’re so close to the performers, that it’s exhilarating and the energy literally emanates from the stage and you feel it because its is such a beautiful small theater.”
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Central City Opera Summer 2022 season
The Light in the Piazza By Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas Performed in English
Adam Turner, conductor Ken Cazan, stage director
2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10; Tuesday, July 12; Sat. July 16; Wednesday, July 20; Friday, July 22; Sunday, July 24; Thursday, July 28 8 p.m. Friday, July 8; Thursday, July 14; Tuesday, July 26
Central City Opera House
Die Fledermaus(The bat) By Johann Strauss, Jrs., Karl Haffner and Richard Genée Performed in German with dialog and titles in English
John Baril, conductor Joachim Schamberger, stage director
8:00 p.m. Saturday, July 9; Friday July 15; Thursday, July 21; 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 13; Sunday, July 17; Tuesday, July 19; Saturday, July 23; Wednesday, July 27; Friday, July 29; Sunday, July 31
Central City Opera House
Two Remain: Memories of Auschwitz By Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer
Performed in English John Baril and Brandon Eldridge, co-conductors Dan Wallace Miller, stage director
7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16 (sold out); Wednesday, July 20 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21 (sold out) 11 a.m. Thursday, July 28
Composer-in-residence John Adams, “Music of Today” are featured in the 2022 season
By Peter Alexander July 6 at 10:30 p.m.
The 2022 Colorado Music Festival (CMF), underway at Boulder’s Chautauqua Auditorium, offers some terrific programs, but if you want to know which ones are most exciting, don’t ask Peter Oundjian. The festival’s music director and conductor loves them all.
“Since I designed it, there’s nothing I’m not excited about,” he says of this year’s festival. “You’ve got really interesting guests and wonderful artists, the Takács Quartet and John Adams and Mahler’s Fifth and a fanfare by Wynton Marsalis. It’s full of exciting prospects!” (See the complete, updated program for the festival below.)
In fact, there is enough excitement that it’s hard to mention it all in one sentence. Other intriguing prospects for the summer are performances of all five Beethoven piano concertos on three concerts, by rising Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki (July 7–10); a week of “Music of Today” (July 12–17); world premieres of music by Timo Andres (July 17) and Wang Jie (Aug. 4); guest performances by pianist Jeremy Denk (July 17), violinist Randall Goosby (July 21–22) and clarinetist Anthony McGill (Aug. 4).
Here are closer looks into some of the headline events during the summer:
Lisiecki’s Beethoven Piano Concerto series opens Thursday. “Jan is a young musician and p pianist, really remarkable, and he just recorded the piano concerti of Beethoven for Deutsche Grammophon [record label].” Oundjian says. “He was supposed to play them two years ago, for Beethoven’s 250th. I really didn’t want to lose that idea for the festival, and he promised that he would come back and play them all.”
Another anniversary, one this year, provided the other idea for programming the three concerts. The year 2022 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose works will open the concerts that conclude with Beethoven’s piano concertos. Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis open the first of the Beethoven-Vaughan Williams concerts (July 7), followed by the Overture to The Wasps (July 8), and the Fifth Symphony (July 10).
“I’ve always been an enormous admirer of Vaughan Williams’s music,” Oundjian says. “It’s the 150th anniversary and I don’t think anybody in this country has acknowledged it, so that’s what we’re doing. The Fifth Symphony is really extraordinary—it’s so evocative, it’s so beautiful and so sad and reflective, but it ends with a great sense of optimism.”
“Music of Today” (July 12–17) is central to Oundjian’s concept of the festival. “I hope to think it’s important to everyone, but it’s certainly important to me,” he says. Music for the week-long mini-festival was selected by Oundjian together with the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams, who is the CMF composer-in-residence. In addition to his works being featured throughout the festival, Adams personally selected some of the composers for the festival, and he will conduct part of the programs July 14 and 17.
At 75, Adams is one of the country’s most revered composers. He is perhaps best known for his operas, including Nixon in China (1987) and Dr. Atomic (2005), but he has also written numerous orchestral, chamber, and solo piano works, several of which will be heard at CMF. His On the Transmigration of Souls, written in commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Centra in New York, won the Pulitzer Prize.
All four of the “Music of Today” concert include music by Adams, but they also include younger composers who are, so far, less known. The mini-festival opens with the Attacca Quartet (July 12), a young string quartet who describe themselves as “passionate advocates of contemporary repertoire.”
In addition to selections from Adams’s John’s Book of Alleged Dances, Attacca will perform music by Flying Lotus, a DJ, producer and rapper from Los Angeles; Anne Müller, a German cellist/composer; American singer-songwriter Louis Cole; Philip Glass; and Caroline Shaw, who at 30 became the youngest-ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize in composition.
A Festival Orchestra concert (July 14) will feature both Oundjian and Adams conducting. The program comprises Adams’s City Noir, an atmospheric and jazzy symphony inspired by the culture of Los Angeles and noir films of the ‘40s and ‘50s; a Chamber Concerto by his son, Samuel Adams; and the world premiere of Dark Patterns by pianist/composer Timo Andres, a CMF commission. In addition to Dark Patterns, Andres has received commissions from Carnegie Hall for the Takacs Quartet, the Boston Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the New World Symphony.
Surely a highlight of “Music for Today” will be the “Kaleidoscope” concert (July 15), with performances by guest artists Tessa Lark, violin, and Timothy McAllister, saxophone, with members of the CMF orchestra. Using lighting and video to create a theatrical performance as well as a concert, “Kaleidoscope” features, yes, a kaleidoscopic array of different composers—Adams, Glass, John Corigliano, Osvaldo Golijov, and others.
“It’s so much fun!” Oundjian says. “We put a screen up, and cameras everywhere, so you can watch the artists normally, or you can watch them at various different angles. And all of this cool lighting.! It’s like a theater evening rather than a concert.”
“Music of Today” concludes with another concert shared by Oundjian and Adams as conductors of the CMF orchestra, with pianist Jeremy Denk playing Adams’s Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? (July 17).Also on the program is Tumblebird Contrails by Gabriella Smith, a committed environmentalist as well as composer. The score was inspired by an experience Smith had backpacking at the edge of the ocean at Pt. Reyes, Calif. The title, she writes, “is a Kerouac-inspired nonsense phrase.”
The final piece of the “Music of Today” week is also the only piece by a composer who is no longer living, the Symphony No. 6 by Christopher Rouse. “John and Christopher knew each other quite well,” Oundjian says. “(Rouse) basically composes his own final moments—when the gong sounds at the end, that is the final moment of life, and it’s very, very moving. So that’s why I’m ending the whole week with it.”
Later in the summer, former CMF music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni will return to Boulder to lead two programs (July 18–29 and July 31). The first will feature more or less standard repertoire, including Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero playing Tchaikovsky’s every-popular First Piano Concerto. Known for her brilliant improvising skills, Montero has appeared in Boulder before, most recently with the CMF orchestra in July 2019.
Zeitouni’s second program is more interesting: Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst for strings, Bizet’s youthful Symphony in C major, and Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This very familiar music is rarely heard in its intended context—the play by William Shakespeare. The CMF performance will provide at least a taste of the original idea, with musical passages presented with texts from Shakespeare’s play spoken by actors John de Lancie and Marnie Mosiman. The performance will feature sopranos Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson and Abigail Nims.
The Festival Finale Concert (Aug. 7) ends the festival with a bang: the Colorado premiere of Wynton Marsalis’s fanfare Herald, Holler and Hallelujah! a CMF co-commission, and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Ending the summer with a Mahler is symphony is not a convention at CMF, but Oundjian would not mind if it were.
“I wouldn’t want to call it a tradition yet, because we only did it ‘19.” he says. “There’s nothing quite like Mahler for an orchestra, for a conductor, for the experience to listening as a music lover. So I like the idea. We’re going to try again for ‘23.”
The festival’s mix of audience favorites—Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto and Mahler’s Fifth, for example—with interesting new works by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, and younger composers including Carolyn Shaw, Flying Lotus, Gabriella Smith and Timo Andres, brings Oundjian’s vision of the festival to life.
“You can’t only program for the box office,“ he says. “You have to program for vision, and for maybe down-the-road box office. If you put interesting juxtapositions together, people develop a trust in you, and they’ll buy stuff they wouldn’t have bought two years earlier.
“It’s like when you go into an art gallery: you don’t have to love everything you see. It’s important that you enjoy an incredibly select [portion] that’s just amazing.”
With such wide ranging repertoire, this year’s CMF gives the audience a lot of opportunities to discover something “just amazing.” And perhaps to discover some new favorite composers in the process.
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Colorado Music Festival 2022 (Remaining concerts) All performances at Chautauqua Auditorium
7:30 pm. Thursday, July 7 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jan Lisiecki, piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major —Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor
6:30 p.m. Friday, July 8 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jan Lisiecki, piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Overture to The Wasps
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major —Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jan Lisiecki, piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5 in D major
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major (“Emperor”)
——-Music of Today——-
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 12 Attacca Quartet
John Adams: selections from John’s Book of Alleged Dances
Flying Lotus: Clock Catcher —Remind U —Pilgrim Side Eye
Anne Müller: Drifting Circles
Louis Cole: Real Life
Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 3, “Mishima”
Caroline Shaw: The Evergreen
Gabriella Smith: Carrot Revolution
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14 Peter Oundjian and John Adams, conductors With Samuel Adams, composer; Tessa Lark, violin; and Timothy McAllister, saxophone
Timo Andres: Dark Patterns (world premiere commission)
Samuel Adams: Chamber Concerto
John Adams: City Noir
7:30 p.m. Friday, July 15: Kaleidoscope Timo Andres, piano; Tessa Lark, violin; Timothy McAllister, saxophone; and members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
David Skidmore: Ritual Music
Stacy Garrop: Reborn in flames (from Phoenix Rising)
Osvaldo Golijov: Last Round
Valerie Coleman: Red Clay & Mississippi Delta for Wind Quintet
Timo Andres: Honest Labor
Roshanne Etezady: Recurring Dreams
John Corigliano: STOMP
Philip Glass: Etude No. 6
John Adams: Road Movie
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 17 Peter Oundjian and John Adams, conductors, Jeremy Denk, piano
Gabriella Smith: Tumblebird Contrails
John Adams: Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?
Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 6
7:30 Tuesday, July 19: Flavors of Russia Members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
Borodin: String Sextet in D minor
Mikhail Glinka: Trio Pathétique in D minor
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence Sextet in D Minor, op. 70
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 22 Ryan Bancroft, conductor, with Randall Goosby violin
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Ballade in A minor for orchestra
Florence Price: Violin Concerto No. 2
Saint-Saëns: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, op. 28
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 24 Ryan Bancroft, conductor, with Albert Cano Smit, piano
Mozart: Serenade in C minor for winds, K388 —Piano Concerto B-flat major, K595 —Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major, K543
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 Members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
Mozart: Flute Quartet in D Major, K285
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson: Movement for String Trio
Dvořák: Terzetto in C Major, op. 74
Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 29 Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Gabriela Montero, piano
Mussorgsky, arr. Rimsky-Korsakov: Night on Bald Mountain
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 31 Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor with Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson and Abigail Nims, sopranos; John de Lancie and Marnie Mosiman, actors
Jessie Montgomery: Starburst
Georges Bizet: Symphony No. 1 in C major
Felix Mendelssohn: Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2 Danish String Quartet
Henry Purcell, arr. Benjamin Britten: Chacony in G minor
Folk Music from the British Isles, arr. Danish String Quartet
Schubert: String Quartet No. 14 in D minor (“Death and the Maiden”)
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Anthony McGill, clarinet
Wang Jie: Flying On the Scaly Backs of Our Mountains (world premiere)
Carl Maria von Weber: Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor
Debussy: Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and orchestra
Stravinsky: Suite from TheFirebird (1919)
6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7: Festival Finale Concert Peter Oundjian, conductor
Wynton Marsalis: Herald, Holler and Hallelujah! (Colorado premiere, co-commission)