SEE LA BOHÈME LIVE IN LONGMONT

Boulder Opera Company will perform La Bohème for a limited in-person audience.

By Izzy Fincher Nov. 10 at 12:45 p.m.

Are you tired of livestreams?

Live, socially-distanced opera in Longmont might be the answer.

Dickens Tavern and Opera House in Longmont. Photo by Sherri O’Hara.

The Boulder Opera Company will present Puccini’s La Bohème for a limited in-person audience on four dates, Nov. 13, 14, 19 and 22, at Longmont’s Dickens Opera House, a restaurant/live music venue. The performance will adhere to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, and audience members will be required to wear masks when not eating or drinking.

Michael Travis Risner

“We are excited to present (opera) live,” Michael Travis Risner, the Boulder Opera Company’s stage director, says. “That visceral, human experience of live performance is so valuable.”

“How long has it been since we have seen something truly live? Broadway is still dark. The entertainment and hospitality industries are almost down to zero because of the pandemic. There’s been a dearth of live performance these last eight months.”

La Bohème, premiered in 1896, is one of the most performed operas worldwide today. Based on Henri Muger’s novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, the opera depicts the Bohemian lifestyle of an impoverished seamstress, Mimi, and her artistic friends, Rodolfo, Marcello, Musetta, Schaunard and Colline, all living in Paris during the 1830s. The tale is heart-rending and tragic, yet it is also full of passion, love, joy and humor.

Phoenix Gayles will be Boulder Opera’s Mimi

This performance of La Bohème will be set in 2020 COVID-19 times, rather than 19th century Paris. Mimi’s mysterious illness, which is later revealed as tuberculosis in the original story, will be left ambiguous—it could be COVID-19 or not. To keep her artistic friends safe, Mimi will enforce social distancing and mask-wearing for everyone as part of the staging.

“By setting (La Bohème) in a contemporary time, it is immediately more accessible,” Risner says. “I wanted to show the context in which we are all living right now.”

But staging an intimate romance while maintaining social distancing has not been easy.

“It’s a challenge getting an intimate show that is very much about love and relationships without having that physical intimacy,” Risner says. “I am asking a lot of (the singers) to really act hard, to convey what we need to without being physically close to each other.”

Nathan Snyder will play Rodolfo

Other COVID-19 related challenges have also impacted the production.

Weeks before the final performances, the pianist and music director, Steven Aguiló-Arbues, and three main singers quit, due to safety concerns about COVID-19. With no pianist, Colline, Musetta or Schaunard, Risner almost had to cancel the show.

Luckily, he soon found a new pianist/music director, Maggie Hinchliffe, and three replacement singers who were familiar with the roles, on short notice. Risner says he felt “very fortunate to find people,” especially with only five rehearsals left before the show.

“We just keep pushing forward,” Risner says. “We are 100% committed.”

Making the live performance safe for the audience and singers has been yet another challenge for Travis. During the show, singers will release high quantities of aerosols, which can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Audience members will also release aerosols while eating dinner without masks. 

To mitigate these risks, Risner has taken several precautions in collaboration with the Dickens Opera House. Dinner will be served before the performance, and masks will be required once the opera starts. The singers will be far away from each other on stage, at a significant distance from the audience. At intermission, everyone will leave the room to allow for ventilation, before returning for the final two acts. 

“I want people to feel safe,” Risner says. “I want people to feel confident. We will ask audience members to keep their masks on when they are not actively eating or drinking. We will ask them to be masked up the entire duration of the performance. The only difference from going out to a restaurant and taking your mask off to eat is that there are people singing 25-30 feet away from you.”

Despite all of the hurdles of live performances in 2020, Risner feels the Boulder Opera Company is as prepared as possible for their adaptation of La Bohème. He is excited to bring live music back and share the classic, touching love story with the greater Boulder community.

“It’s a timeless story about love, forgiveness and understanding,” Risner says. “It’s a slice of life, designed to be heightened realism.

“Hopefully, (the audience) sees a part of themselves reflected onstage and is moved in some way. That’s why we do what we do—to provide an escape from the craziness.”

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Boulder Opera Company
La Bohème at Longmont’s Dickens Opera House

7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13
7 p.m. Saturday, Nov.14
7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19
1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22

Purchase in-person tickets for La Bohème here.

Livestream access for the Nov. 14 performance available here.

Two productions will bring live music back to Boulder

Outdoor performances Ag. 14–16 and Aug. 29 will observe Coronavirus safety protocols

By Peter Alexander (Aug. 11 at 11:20 p.m.)

Live music is back in Boulder—in a limited, outdoorsy sort of way.

Two outdoor performances later this month will provide live music, for the limited audiences who can get tickets. Both presenters have worked with Boulder Parks and Recreation Department to meet all health requirements. Both will be strictly social distanced, with limited numbers admitted and carefully spaced.

The Gerald Stazio Softball Fields parking lot, site of drive-in performances Aug. 14–16

Boulder Arts Outdoors will present what it calls “A socially-distanced drive-in performance pop-up” this coming weekend, Friday–Sunday, Aug. 14–16. The mixed program of classical, blue-grass, soul, salsa, dance and juggling, will be presented before a drive-in audience at the parking lot of the Gerald Stazio Softball Fields off 63rd Street in East Boulder.

Later in the month, Boulder Opera (BOC) will present its annual Opera in the Park performance in the Boulder Band Shell on Canyon Drive, to an audience limited to 175 people. The performance Saturday, Aug. 29, will be in two parts, with separate admission for each so that more people might have the opportunity to attend. The first half will be music from fairy-tale and fantasy operas, and the second half will be music from Zarzuelas, a popular genre of Spanish musical theater.

Mara Driscoll, the organizer of the Drive-In Festival, recently returned to Boulder from New York, where she dances at the Metropolitan Opera. “I’m still connected to the Boulder arts community, having gown up here, and as a performer I was feeling the disappearance of live performance,” she says.

The band Lady Romeo, one of the groups performing on Boulder Outdoor Arts
drive-in concert

“I really value everyone’s efforts to make things digital and to live stream, but we all know it’s just not the same. I was watching drive-in movie theaters pop up all over the country, and seeing how that made it possible for people to assemble safely, I thought, why not apply that same model to performance? There’s very, very stringent health regulations right now; a lot of the permit process was making sure that I could keep everyone socially distanced.”

The cars the parking lot will be spaced apart, in every second space, and arranged in a horseshoe shape for maximum visibility of the elevated stage located at one end of the lot. The music will be amplified, and also streamed through an FM transmitter for anyone who does not wish to lower their windows.

“The capacity is 40 vehicles, so people will be close enough to the stage that they can hear well, and see the performers,” Driscoll says. “It should feel like an outdoor amphitheater experience, you’re just looking through your windshield.”

The bluegrass duo Sugar Moon

Driscoll used her connections to the Boulder dance and music communities to invite artists and groups to be part of the performances. Some contacts suggested other performers, so that the total program grew to be extremely diverse. 

The schedules over the three nights includes members of the Boulder Symphony, the Renaissance-music vocal quintet Solis Singers, the soul/rock band Lady Romeo, the Bluegrass groups Chandler Holt & Eric Wiggs, Sugar Moon and Bowregard, djembe drumming by Abdoul Doumbia, a new piece created for the occasion by dancer Helanius J. Wilkins, Salsa dance by Marcela Lay and Musa Starseed, Third Law Dance/Theater, and juggling by Peter Davison. The program is slightly different each evening; the full program by date can be seen here

Helanius J. Wilkins

“It’s all about the artists,” Driscoll says. “I really wanted to create a platform for artists to do what they do. It’s exciting what everyone’s going to bring to the table, and I think audiences are going to go for this great ride and leave with a sense of awe at all the creativity and talent that’s right here in Boulder.”

Boulder Opera has offered “Opera in the Park” for several summers running, but this year was different due to the pandemic. “We definitely had to go through a lot of hoops putting in an application with the city of Boulder, to make sure we are following all of the safety precautions for performing live,” Dianela Acosta, the company’s artistic director, says.

“The event is going to be capped at 175 people, and we usually attract between 400 and 600. We have to do social-distance seating, and everybody has to wear masks. We’re going to have to set out some areas where people can sit and be six feet away from each other.

Boulder Opera’s 2019 “Opera in the Park”

The performance is free, Acosta notes, but audience members have to register in advance through Boulder Opera Web page , and bring a copy of their registration with them. Boulder Opera staff will be on hand to direct people to their seats and ensure that no-one who is not registered gets inside the audience area. 

“Our overhead expense have gone up, because there’s  lot of work we have to do to prepare for this,” Acosta says. “And then, for the performer’s safety, we follow the same guidelines, and there’s going to be a protective plastic barrier in front of the stage.”

The program is divide into two halves, each with its own theme and content. “You can register for the first part, or the second part of the concert, or you can register for both parts,” Acosta explains. The music from operas based on fairy tales, including “Hansel and Gretel” and “Cinderella,” on the first part might be more family oriented. The second part features music from a popular Spanish style of light opera, Zarzuela.

Singers from the 2019 performance of Boulder Opera’s “Opera in the Park”

Featured on the first half will be a scene from Hansel und Gretel by Humperdinck; an aria from Rimsky Korsakov’s Snow Maiden; “Olympia’s Song” and the “Barcarolle” duet from Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman; “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka by Dvořák, an opera based on the same folk tale as “The Little Mermaid”; a duet and quartet from El Gato con Botas (“Puss in Boots”) by Spanish composer Xavier Montsalvage; and several numbers from La Cenerentola (“Cinderella”) by Rossini.

Forming the second half of he program, “Zarzuela is a traditional opera from Spain,” Acosta says. “It’s based on the folkloric tales and folk songs that have been adapted for operatic singing. And it’s very well known in Spain.”

Dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Zarzuela is contemporaneous with the rise of operetta and musical comedy in the U.S. Neither the titles nor the composers—including Gerónimo Giménez, Federico Moreno-Torroba and Francisco  Barbieri—are familiar to American audiences. Singers for both halves of the program are members of the Boulder Opera company, including Acosta herself. They will be accompanied on piano by Nathália Kato, the BOC staff pianist.

“Our theme is opera for people, and we want to bring these beautiful pieces to our audience as a way to bring the community together,” Acosta says. For those we cannot be brought together on this occasion, when the audience size is limited, the performance will be live streamed through the BOC Facebook page

“That [distanced performing] is going to be just for a little while, and then we are going to hopefully meet together soon again,” Acosta says. “[Online viewing] cannot replace live performances. That’s the beauty of what we do, performing in a live stage! 

“Nothing can substitute for what it means to be sitting there and feeling the vibration of the voice in the instant.”

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Boulder Arts Outdoors: “Drive-in Festival”
6:30 p.m. Friday–Sunday, Aug. 14–16
Gerald Stazio Softball Fields parking lot
Tickets

Boulder Opera: “Fairy-Tale Opera, Zarzuela and Dance”
7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29: Fairy-Tale Fantasy
8:10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29: Zarzuela and Dance
Boulder Bandshell, 1212 Canyon Drive
Tickets
Live stream on the Boulder Opera Facebook page

Boulder Opera presents “purrr-fect introduction to opera”

Montsalvatge’s Puss in Boots will be presented in English and Spanish

By Peter Alexander Jan. 30 at 3:15 p.m.

“It’s a purrr-fect introduction to opera,” Dianela Acosta says about the Boulder Opera’s current production of Gato en botas (Puss in boots) by Spanish composer Xavier Montsalvatge.

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Boulder Opera’s production of “Puss in Boots”: Winona Martin, Nathan Snyder, Jennifer Burks, Steven Groth (l-r)

Acosta is the company’s executive artistic director and a cast member, and she is excited about the upcoming performances, which will be offered in both the original Spanish (with English titles) and in English. “The music is gorgeous,” she says.

”There’s moments of Puccini, there’s Mozart, there’s Handel, there’s recitative, it’s very melodic. It’s also very surprising, the music. It’s beautiful.”

With two separate casts, one for each language, the production will be presented six times over the next two weekends, Thursday Jan. 30 through Saturday Feb. 8 (see dates and times below). Performing in both the original Spanish and in an English translation is part of Boulder Opera’s outreach to area schools—in this case bilingual schools in particular.

“We have a lot of partnerships with schools in the area that are bilingual,” Acosta says. “They’re super interested, because there are not a lot of cultural activities in Spanish. We’ve been really successful with this opera in doing outreach.”

Acosta says that they have arranged for 600 students from 10 different school to attend performances. “We tie it to an educational study guide that talks a little bit about the different elements of the opera, a little bit of the history of the composer, and the history of opera,” she says.

Though unfamiliar to American audiences, Montsalvatge (mont-sahl-VAHT-jeh) is well known in Spain. Acosta, who is Spanish, has sung his art songs, but had not known the opera until she was looking for fairy-tale operas for outreach to families and younger audiences. He wrote Gato con Botas in the 1940s, combining traditional operatic forms and styles with contemporary styles including jazz.

ICarriage

The Princess (Jennifer Burks), King (Steven Groth) and Miller (in river; Nathan Snyder)

The opera is based on the familiar tale of “Puss in Boots,” a conniving cat who uses various tricks to pass off his owner, a poor miller, as a nobleman. He saves his own life in the process, kills an ogre, and arranges for the miler to marry a princess. Naturally, everyone lives happily ever after.

Ashley Gulbranson, music director of the production, says “This is a very accessible opera. It’s two acts with five scenes, and will last less than 60 minutes. So it’s a really great introduction to opera.”

The two casts are entirely separate, with most of the Spanish cast members native Spanish speakers. Having two casts does add to the time needed for rehearsals—”We’ve been having three hour rehearsals, and usually we do about half with one cast, half with another,” Gulbranson says.

That also adds to the cost to the company, but Acosta, who sings el Gato (the cat) in the Spanish cast, said it would have been nearly impossible to perform in both languages with only one cast. “It’s difficult to keep it straight, to keep [the different texts] separate,” she says. “So we just went ahead and hired a Spanish cast.”

To Boulder Opera, the expense is worth it because it contributes directly to their mission of making opera accessible and developing new audiences. “One of the reasons I wanted to do this opera is that it’s part of our children’s series,” Gulbranson says.

“Those performances are reaching a greater audience and getting children and families introduced to the operatic art form.”

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Puss in Boots by Xavier Montsalvatge
Boulder Opera, Michael Travis Risner, artistic director and stage director
Nadia Artman, executive producer, set and costume designer

Performances at E-Town Hall, 1535 Spruce St, Boulder:
10 a.m. and 12 noon Thursday, Jan. 30 (performed in Spanish with English titles)
2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 (performed in English)
4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 (performed in Spanish with English titles)
3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2 (English)

Performance at Center for Musical Arts, 200 E. Baseline Rd., Lafayette:
3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 (performed in English)

Tickets

 

Boulder Opera presents mixed double bill of contrasting works, May 3–12

Hilarious comedy and heart-rending tragedy make “quite a buffet” 

By Peter Alexander May 2, 2019, at 2:20 p.m.

Boulder Opera, a bare-bones company now in its seventh season of offering educational programs and entertaining, stripped down performances, will present two distinctly dissimilar works for their spring production.

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Bryce Bartu as Deluso and Mary Elisabeth Kettelwell as Rosine in “Signor Deluso.” Photo courtesy of Boulder Opera.

The two works are Signor Deluso, a rollicking comedy by American composer Thomas Pasatieri, and Cavalleria Rusticana, a melodramatic tale of betrayal and murder by Pietro Mascagni. Lorraine Fitzmaurice will conduct the performances which are directed by Gene Roberts from Metropolitan State University in Denver. The cast of local singers will give five performances in slightly more than a week, May 3–12 (details below).

Lorraine Fitzmaurice

Lorraine Fitzmaurice

The two operas together add up to about 90 minutes of music, plus an intermission. Performances will be in Boulder’s intimate Nomad Playhouse.

Pianist Jordan Ortman, who is staff accompanist at Metro State and assistant organist at Boulder’s First United Methodist Church, will accompany both operas. For Cavalleria he will be joined by a string quartet playing a reduced version of the orchestral score.

Boulder Opera artistic director Dianela Acosta picked the two works. “Cavalleria had been in my mind for at least three years that I wanted to do it,” she says. To go with Cavalleria, a dark tragedy, “I wanted to do something that was very contrasting in mood,” she says.

JordanOrtman-500x500

Jordan Ortman

Signor Deluso is filled with imagined betrayals that are “kind of like a comedy of errors,” Acosta says. “I wanted to tie it in with the theme of betrayal, and be very contrasting. It goes with the other betrayal that is a real betrayal and serious drama.”

Pasatieri is probably one of the most prolific composers and successful composers most people have never heard of. He has written 24 operas, of which Signor Deluso, with more than 10,000 performances to date, is the most successful. It was written when the composer was just 28.

Pasatieri

Thomas Pasatieri

The plot of Signor Deluso is too convoluted to easily summarize, but the opera is 30 minutes cram packed with the kind of mistaken assumptions and ridiculous confusions that have been the staple of comic opera from the very beginning. In the words of music critic Anne Midgette, it’s “an exuberant sendup of over-the-top comic opera plots, filled with effusive lovers leaping with alacrity to wrong conclusions in floods of extreme vocalism.”

“This story is one misunderstanding on top of another,” Roberts explains, “until of course the maid, which is a parody of (conventional comic) opera, comes in and straightens everything out. And everyone of course lives happily ever after. This piece, which I have come to love, works so well and it’s so much fun to work on. It’s just wonderful.”

“The cast is fabulous top to bottom. They’ve enjoyed finding the funny little moments in the music and making then work physically,” Roberts says. “It makes me, even knowing what’s coming, burst out in laughter every time.”

Roberts

Gene Roberts

It would be harder to go farther in the opposite direction from the imaginary betrayals without consequences that form the plot of Deluso than the high drama of Cavalleria, where the betrayals are real and the consequences severe. “This one is big feelings from the start to the end,” Roberts says. “All the emotions in this music are big, big, big.”

Cavalleria Rusticana was written for a competition in 1890, when Mascagni was 26. The first performance was greeted with ecstatic applause, as Mascagni was called back for 40 curtain calls and the opera won the first prize.

The plot concerns a series of betrayals leading to revenge and death. The events take place on Easter morning in a Sicilian village, where Santuzza learns that she has been betrayed by Turridu, who was previously betrayed by his former fiancée Lola, who now also betrays her husband, Alfio.

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Michelle Diggs-Thompson as Santuzza and Joshua Zabatta as Turridu in “Cavalleria Rusticana.” Photo courtesy of Boulder Opera.

In addition to dramatic arias and duets, the score includes a number of pieces that have become audience favorites, including a Sicilian dance song, or siciliana; an offstage Regina Coeli, sung by the chorus; a rousing drinking song; and an orchestral intermezzo that has become famous in its own right.

Roberts compares the combination of a short, effervescent comedy and Cavalleria with the convention of pairing cartoons with serious films. “I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” he says. “We’d go to the cinema and see a drama and there was a cartoon before the main feature.

“This (double bill) is quite a buffet. Cavalleria seems like the main course and maybe we have dessert first in this case, like the cartoon before the movie. Signor Deluso gets people into a mood where they’re enjoying what’s coming to them, and then an intermission and this gorgeous, gorgeous music.

“It will be a lovely, lovely evening spent in the theater.”

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Opera Double Bill
Signor Deluso by Thomas Pasatieri
Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni

Boulder Opera, Lorraine Fitzmaurice, conductor
Gene Roberts, stage director

7:30 pm. Friday—Saturday, May 3–4
7 p.m. Wednesday. May 8
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11
2 p.m. Sunday, May 12
Nomad Playhouse 1410 Quince Ave., Boulder

Tickets

Boulder Opera presents Little Red Riding Hood for young audiences Dec. 7–9

Opera by Russian composer Cesar Cui will have its Colorado premiere

By Peter Alexander Dec. 5 at 2:20 p.m.

César Cui (pronounced SAY-zar KWEE) is not a household name, anywhere. But he was an interesting person who wrote music that is always worth hearing.

240px-Ilya_Repin_-_Cesar_Cui

Portrait of César Cui by Ilya Respin

Born in 1835 in Vilnius, now Lithuania and then part of the Russian Empire, his principal career was as an officer and engineer in the Russian Imperial Army. But he also studied piano from childhood and pursued music as an avocation. With Mily Balakirev, Borodin, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, he was one of the Russian nationalist composers known as “Moguchaya kuchka” (the mighty handful).

Among other works, he wrote more than a dozen operas, including several children’s operas—which is what recommended Cui to Dianela Acosta and the Boulder Opera, who will present the first Colorado performances of his 40-minute Little Red Riding Hood this weekend (Friday–Sunday, Dec. 7–9) at Boulder Nomad Playhouse.

“We’re always looking for new material to present,” says Acosta, Boulder Opera’s artistic director who also plays the mother in the production. “Especially stories that are well known, to continue with our mission to introduce the younger generation to opera.”

BOC RR-26

Page Sentianin as Little Red Riding Hood and Joshua South as the Wolf for Boulder Opera Company

For Little Red Riding Hood, they are presenting three performance to school groups Thursday and Friday, with support from the Boulder Arts Commission. They have prepared a study guide that is useful for anyone attending the opera, and each performance will be followed by Q&A session for the audience with cast members.

“We love to do these Q&A at the end of the performances,” Acosta says. “The kids get to ask questions and then we ask them questions, and it’s very engaging. And because the opera is so short we decided to explore a little bit more of Cui’s music. We chose a short piano piece called ‘Orientale’ that our pianist, Deborah Schmit-Lobis, will play between the two acts.”

Cui’s music is in the familiar Romantic style of the mid-19thcentury, but with a definite Russian flavor. “There’s a lot of folkloric elements in the music,” Acosta says. “Vocally it’s not very difficult. The music really is there to tell the story, so it’s very descriptive for each character.

“Its a beautiful piece that just tells the story.”

Cui’s music is not widely available. In this case, Mathieu D’Ordine, who has conducted for Boulder Opera in the past, created a chamber arrangement that will be played by pianist Schmit-Lobis and a quartet of woodwind players.

Dianela.A

Boulder Opera Company’s artistic director Daniela Acosta

In the past, Boulder Opera has toured its productions to Longmont, Broomfield and Lafayette. This year, all their performances—both Little Red Riding Hood and performances in May of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Thomas Pasatieri’s Signor Deluso—will be presented in Boulder’s Nomad Playhouse.

Staying in one place gives the company the opportunity to build solid sets and invest more in the production, Acosta says. “The logistics of traveling was getting really taxing,” she says. “Instead of putting all of our efforts into touring, we’re enhancing our productions with the costumes and the sets.”

That initiative has been assisted by contributions from Nadia Artman, a member of the Boulder Opera board who is also credited as co-producer of Little Red Riding Hood.

Higher quality sets and costumes are clear signs of success for the Boulder Opera Company, but Acosta stays focused on the mission of the company, to bring opera to new and younger audiences. “It’s such a great thing to introduce children to opera,” she says. “That’s what we’re trying to do.

“It’s a familiar story with a happy ending, so it’s fun and educational at the same time.”

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BOC-Little+Red+no+text+Little Red Riding Hood by Cesar Cui (Colorado premiere)
Arranged by Mathieu D’Ordine
Boulder Opera Company

1 and 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7
2 and 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
1 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9
The Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave., Boulder

Information and tickets 

Three Classical Music groups announce seasons for 2018–19

Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Ars Nova and Boulder Opera set their schedules

By Peter Alexander July 12 at 1:45 p.m.

Three different classical musical organizations in Boulder—Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Ars Nova Singers and Boulder Opera—have recently made public their planned season for the coming year. The full season for each group is listed below.

First out of the blocks will be the Boulder Opera Company, with a free concert in the Boulder Bandshell at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18. The performance with piano, co-sponsored by the City of Boulder, will feature highlights from Puccini’s La Bohème and other popular operas.

Boulder Opera

Boulder Opera Company

Over the three days span Dec. 7–9, Boulder Opera will present the Colorado premiere of Little Red Riding Hood by Russian composer Cèsar Cui. All six matinee performances of this 35-minute work will be accompanied by piano and string quartet, and will offer the opportunity for children to sing ensemble parts. Part of Boulder Opera’s educational program, Little Red Rising Hood will also be taken to after-school programs and the Center for Musical Arts in Lafayette.

The season will conclude May 3 through 12 with the paring of two one-act operas, the comedy Signor Deluso by Thomas Pastieri, sung in English; and the tragic Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) by Pietro Mascagni, sing in Italian with English titles.

In addition to these performances, Boulder Opera will present a public masterclass in Italian opera Tuesday, Aug. 14, and a fund-raising Gala Concert, featuring highlights from the season Friday, Oct. 12.

Executive/artistic director of Boulder Opera is Dianela Acosta. More information on Boulder Opera can be found here.

ANScircleground

Ars Nova Singers

Ars Nova Singers title their 2018–19 season “New Horizons.” Over four concerts the season covers a wide musical spectrum, from the opening concert of “Sacred Jazz” in October, featuring Will Todd’s Mass in Blue for soprano, choir and jazz ensemble, described as “religious doctrine meets funk”; to February’s program featuring the Renaissance “Earthquake Mass” of Antoine Brumel, which has been called “one of the true marvels of Renaissance choral writing.”

The annual Ars Nova Holiday concert in December will feature the Colorado premiere of The Consolation of Apollo by Kile Smith, a work celebrating the 1968 Christmas Eve broadcast by the crew of Apollo 8. The program will also include music for the holiday season.

Ars Nova will conclude the season with “A Celebration of Colorado Artistry: Shared Visions 2.” The Arts Nova Web page describes this multi-disciplinary collaborative project: “In the summer of 2018, an online gallery of works by Colorado visual artists will be assembled. Then, poets from across the state will view the gallery and use the images as a basis for writing new poetry. This new poetry will be assembled into an anthology, and Arts Nova will commission four Colorado composers to use this anthology to create new music for chorus.”

The artistic director and conductor of Ars Nova is Thomas Edward Morgan. More information on Ars Nova Singers can be found here.

Boulder Chamber Orchestrawill present five full orchestral concerts during the year under music director Bahman Saless, plus a season-opening chamber music concert by violinist Lindsay Deutsch and her piano trio Take 3, with pianist Susan Boettger and cellist Lila Yang.

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Boulder Chamber Orchestra

Over the season, the BCO will feature several soloists from the CU faculty: pianist David Korevaar playing Mozart in December; violinist Edward Dusinberre, also playing Mozart in February; and violist Geraldine Walther playing an arrangement for viola and strings of Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet. Violinist Chloe Trevor will be a guest soloist in November, playing the Vivaldi Four Seasons concertos as well as the Piazzolla Four Season of Buenos Aires.

In addition to Mozart, the December program will include Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto” and settings of holiday carols. Among the latter will be one of the more unusual pieces of the BCO season, Weihnachtsmusik by Arnold Schoenberg, which is actually a little known but perfectly lovely setting of the familiar German Christmas hymn Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (known as “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming”).

The season will end in May with a concert featuring BCO members Cobus DuToit, flute, and Bridget Kibbey, harp, playing Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp.

Not on the schedule this year will be a New Year’s Eve concert, which BCO has made part of their season for several years. According to Saless, more and more orchestras are filling that slot in the calendar, so the BCO performance was no longer unique.

More information on the Boulder Chamber Orchestra can be found here.

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BOULDER OPERA
Dianela Acosta, artistic director
2018–19 season

Italian Opera Masterclass with Anthony Michaels-Moore
Congregation Nevei Kodesh, 1925 Glenwood Dr., Boulder
2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14

Opera in the Park
Boulder Bandshell
7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18
Free

Gala Concert
The Studio, 3550 Frontier Avenue, Boulder
7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12

Family Series
Cèsar Cui: Little Red Rising Hood
The Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave, Boulder
1 & 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7
2 & 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
1 & 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9
Sung in English

Thomas Pastieri: Signor Deluso (Sung in English)
Pietro Mascagni:Cavalleria Rusticana (Sung in Italian with English titles)
The Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave, Boulder
7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4
7 p.m. Wednesday, May 8
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11
3 p.m. Sunday, May 12

More information here

ARS NOVA SINGERS
Thomas Edward Morgan, artistic director
2018–19 Season
“New Horizons”

Sacred Jazz
7:30 p.m. Friday, October 5, SJE (St. John’s Episcopal Church, Boulder)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oc.t 6, BLC (Bethany Lutheran Church, Cherry Hills Village)
Will Todd: Mass in Blue

In the Moon of Wintertime
7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, SJE
4 p.m. Sunday, Dec 9, SPDen (St. Paul Community of Faith, Denver)
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, SJE
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, FCC (First Congregational Church, Longmont)
Kile Smith: The Consolation of Apollo(Colorado premiere)
Holiday Music

Music of the Renaissance: The Earthquake Mass
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, SJE
4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, SPDen
Antoine Brumel: Missa Et ecce terra motus (Mass “And behold the earth moved”)

A Celebration of Colorado Artistry: Shared Visions 2
7:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, BLC
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, SJE
New works by Colorado composers

More information here

BOULDER CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
Bahman Saless, music director
2018–19 Season

Saturday October 6, SDA (Seventh Day Adventist Church)
Take 3: Susan Boettger, piano; Lindsay Deutsch, violin; and Lila Yang, cello

Friday Nov. 30, BA (Broomfield Auditorium); Sat. Dec. 1, SDA
Chloe Trevor, violin
Vivaldi: Four Seasons
Piazzolla: Four Season of Buenos Aires
Janáček: Suite for strings

Friday Dec. 21, BA; Sat. Dec. 22, SDA
David Korevaar, piano
Mozart: Piano Concerto in B-flat Major, K595
Handel: Concerto Grosso, op. 3 no. 1
Corelli: Concerto Grosso op. 6 no. 8, “Christmas Concerto”
Schoenberg: Weihnachtsmusik (Christmas Music)
Selected Holiday Carols

Friday Feb. 1 (BA); Sat, Feb. 2, 2019 (Boulder)
Edward Dusinberre, Violin
Mozart: Violin Concerto in G major, K216
Sibelius: Suite Mignonne
Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings

Friday March 29, (BA); Sat, March 30 (SDA)
Geraldine Walther, viola
Brahms: Clarinet Quintet, arranged for viola and strings
Verdi: String Quartet, arranged for string orchestra

May 12 (SDA) (Sunday Matinee)
Cobus DuToit, flute; Bridget Kibbey harp
Mozart: Concerto for Flute and Harp, K299/291c
Debussy: Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun
Mozart: Symphony No. 33

More information here
Season tickets

Boulder Opera’s ‘Così fan tutte’ is baptism by fire for director Ron Ben-Joseph

Production set in the 1960s aims to be relevant to the women’s movement

By Peter Alexander March 22 at 9:00 p.m.

Opera is a world of its own. Singers and conductors have their own inside language, they have traditions that seem arcane to outsiders, and they know the works intimately.

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Ron Ben-Joseph, stage director of Così fan tutte. Photo courtesy of Big Fish Talent.

Stepping into that world from outside can be intimidating, but that’s the position stage director Ron Ben-Joseph finds himself in. With a background in theater, but not opera, he was engaged to direct this weekend’s performances of Mozart’s Così fan tutte for Boulder Opera (Friday in Longmont, Sunday in Boulder).

Ben-Joseph did bring some skills to the job: As a singer he can read music and follow the score, and he has worked in musical theater. He has taken voice lessons from Dianela Acosta, the artistic director of Boulder Opera and one of the singers in the cast, and in turn he has helped coach her acting in arias that she has learned. But even with that background, it’s not easy to dive into directing an entire opera.

How is he handling this baptism by fire? “I’m learning, I’m learning,” he says.

“One of the first things I did (was) research where theater directors that jump into opera mess up. I do not want to make those mistakes! So I plunged into music theory and the history of opera, and I tried to watch two or three operas a week. I tried to get the sense, the style, just to be respectful and not come in there and go ‘Oh, I know what to do!’

“I didn’t want to be that guy.”

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Dianela Acosta, Boulder opera artistic director Dorabella) and Josh DeVane (Guglielmo) in Così fan tutte. Photo courtesy of  Boulder Opera.

The task was not made easier by the fact that Così is a difficult opera to get right. The plot is artificial and frankly unbelievable on the surface, but at the same time it deals with very basic and deep human emotions that are powerfully expressed in the music. The cast and director have to reconcile these two elements, relishing the humor and silliness of the onstage action without losing the emotional depth of the music.

If you don’t know the opera, it is about two pairs of lovers, two soldiers and a pair of sisters. The men have been bragging extravagantly about their girlfriends’ faithfulness, but a cynical older bachelor, Don Alfonso, challenges them to prove their claims. At Don Alfonso’s direction, the men pretend to march off to war. After leaving the scene, they don disguises and are introduced to the women as foreigners. Each then tries to woo the other’s girlfriend.

Over the course of the opera, the women resist, come to grips with temptation and their own weakness, and ultimately succumb. At the end the rather cruel ruse is revealed. Both men and women realize they have much to forgive. In the traditional ending, the women return to their original partners, but today other ways of ending the story are common as well.

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Michael Hoffman (Ferrando) and Ekaterina Kotcherguina (Fiordiligi) in Così fan tutte. Photo courtesy of Boulder Opera.

“You have two guys who put their girlfriends through torment emotionally, and I think that comes from a very deep insecurity,” Ben-Joseph says. “That was one of the first things I saw. I could judge these guys for being misogynist, but I had a girlfriend once that I was insecure about, so I could kind of see it. Once I saw that personal hook, I really felt for the women, especially with the #MeToo movement.”

With that insight, Ben-Joseph wanted to find a time period that would make the story more relevant today. “This reads to me as if it were set in the late 1960s,” he says. “We’re about to start the female revolution, empowerment and women’s lib. That’s how it started taking shape, and I couldn’t not tell that story, and set it in that world.”

One part of that world was the Viet Nam War, which adds a darker element to the moment when the soldiers seemingly march off to war. Nevertheless, Ben-Joseph aimed to be sensitive to the artwork. “We always stayed true to the libretto, to the score,” he says. “We don’t impose anything. All we’re doing is using a lens for people to view this in a different way.”

Ben-Joseph is extremely complimentary to the performers. “They’re so talented, and they’re doing such a good job of honoring the score and being truthful to it,” he says. “I don’t know that anyone’s going to walk away from this production saying, ‘Oh my goodness! The direction!’ I think they’re going to walk away saying, ‘Those are phenomenal singers! That is a phenomenal orchestra!’

“These performers are starting to have fun and free themselves from feeling structured. You’re seeing real people, and that’s something I’m very proud of. There are a lot of genuine moments that are beautifully acted. That is what I want people to connect with—people that are alive and communicating real emotions in a deep, organic, authentic way.

“That’s what makes it badass.”

# # # # #

Sarah Parkinson-2119

Music director Sara Parkinson

Mozart: Così fan tutte
Boulder Opera
Sara Parkinson, music director
Ron Ben-Joseph, stage director

7:30 p.m. Friday, March 23, Stewart Auditorium Longmont
3 p.m. Sunday, March 25, Dairy Center for the Arts, Boulder

Tickets