LA TRAVIATA by Giuseppe Verdi
MAN OF LA MANCHA by Leigh, Darion & Wasserman
THE PRODIGAL SON by Benjamin Britten
THE BLIND by Lera Auerbach
DON QUIXOTE AND THE DUCHESS by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier
“After completing three years of experimentation and innovation, we are adjusting our strategy with the 2015 Festival to create a deeper connection with our current and future audiences,” says Central City Opera General/Artistic Director Pelham “Pat” Pearce. “We have reallocated our resources in order to deliver our mission in a new way and more effectively engage with the communities we serve from Central City to Denver and throughout the state,” says Central City Opera General/Artistic Director Pelham “Pat” Pearce.
Central City Opera’s (CCO) 2015 Summer Festival, running July 11 to Aug. 9, features five productions with something for every palate from standard operatic repertoire to musical theater and contemporary opera performed and delivered in non-traditional ways. The company’s first two productions of the Festival, La Traviata and Man of La Mancha, will be performed in the company’s intimate Central City Opera House. The final three shows, one-act operas The Prodigal Son, The Blind and Don Quixote and the Duchess, will be mobile with performances in alternate spaces from historic buildings in Central City to diverse venues throughout Colorado creating new experiences for audiences in unexpected ways.
La Traviata, Verdi’s popular Italian opera named as number one on the Operabase online database of the most-performed operas worldwide, kicks off the 2015 Festival at the historic Central City Opera House on July 11 and runs through Aug. 8, 2015. In this story of tragic love, the high-class prostitute Violetta Valery meets nobleman Alfredo Germont and she abandons her profession for their love only to be scorned by Alfredo’s father. Alfredo learns of his father’s plot and and tries to win her back, but it’s too late as she is overtaken by tuberculosis. La Traviata is based on Alexander Dumas fils’ novel, The Lady of the Camelias, the same novel on which the play Camille is based which opened Central City Opera’s first festival in 1932. CCO’s most recent production of La Traviata was staged in 2007 to commemorate the company’s 75th anniversary festival. La Traviata is performed in Italian with English supertitles and will be directed by Elise Sandell. Ms. Sandell has worked frequently with Central City Opera having most recently directed Curlew River in 2008, along with CCO’s Short Works scenes program and The Face of the Barroom Floor. Ms. Sandell has also worked frequently with Houston Grand Opera and with such companies as San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Co. of Philadelphia and more.
The Tony award-winning musical by Mitch Leigh with lyrics by Joe Darion and book by Dale Wasserman, Man of La Mancha, is Central City Opera’s second offering of the 2015 Festival. Also performed in the Central City Opera House, this production opens on July 18 and runs through Aug. 9, 2015. Whimsical and unique in structure and tone, this story within a story of Don Miguel De Cervantes (the author of the popular novel Don Quixote) follows Cervantes as he awaits a hearing from the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes and his co-prisoners act out a play about the half-baked knight, Don Quixote, through his fanciful adventures. An ode to finding meaning in one’s life and never giving up, the musical rouses audiences with the song “Dream the Impossible Dream,” which has become a popular standard. Paul Curran returns to direct this production after his most recent work with the company directing The Rape of Lucretia in 2008. A former professional ballet dancer and an accomplished opera and musical director since 1996, Mr. Curran made his U.S. debut with Central City Opera directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2002. This fall, Mr. Curran makes his Metropolitan Opera debut directing La Donna del Lago with Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez.
One of Benjamin Britten’s three church parable operas, which also include Curlew River and The Burning Fiery Furnace, The Prodigal Son is based on the Biblical story of the same name and will be among CCO’s mobile productions in 2015. With a libretto by William Plomer and a score dedicated to Shostakovich, this one-act opera centers on the well-known parable about a son, bored with life on his father’s farm, who asks for his inheritance to go seek an exciting life in a far-off city where he is deprived of his fortune and left penniless. When the son returns home to ask for forgiveness, his father receives him with open arms, but his angry older brother who has loyally worked his father’s fields doesn’t feel the same. The Prodigal Son will be performed in English at church venues in Central City and throughout the state.
“It’s not the characters who are blind,” said composer Lera Auerbach in a New York Times interview about the one-act opera The Blind that Central City Opera will be presenting in 2015. “The message is that we are the blind. With all our means of communication we see each other less and connect to each other less. We have less understanding and compassion for other people…” First performed in October 2011, this unconventional a capella opera for 12 singers requires that audience members be blindfolded so they can enter the world of its sightless characters. Adapted from an 1890 play by Maurice Maeterlinck, the story is about a dozen blind people who are taken by their priest on an outing. When the elderly priest suddenly dies, they are stranded on an island left helpless and scared. The group realizes that they never really knew the priest as a person as they stumble upon his cold, dead body. A Russian-American composer, Lera Auerbach wrote The Blind in 1994 while she was a student at Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival. Central City Opera’s production is in partnership with American Opera Projects, the company who presented the opera for the 2013 Lincoln Center Festival in a production touted by the New York Times as “An adventurous, eerie and thoroughly engaging example of immersive theater.” The Blind will be performed in English at non-traditional venues in Central City and across the region.
As its final traveling one-act production for 2015, Central City Opera presents Don Quixote and the Duchess (Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse), by French baroque composer Joseph Bodin de Boismortier. This piece is adapted from Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote with a libretto by Charles Simon Favart. First performed in Paris in 1743, the opera is based on one episode in the novel. The story follows a Duke and Duchess who amuse themselves by creating an elaborate ruse to fool the title character. The story is rich with incisive, quick and ironic turns. A rarely performed piece, this production will be the regional premiere of the opera and will provide a completely different take on the same story of Don Quixote presented as part of Central City Opera’s production of the musical Man of La Mancha also being presented in 2015. Don Quixote and the Duchess will be performed in English in both Central City venues and across Colorado.
Additional performance dates, as well as artistic staff announcements and further casting for the 2015 Summer Festival, are to be announced. Subscription packages to see all five shows of the 2015 Festival will go on sale in the fall of 2014. Visit centralcityopera.org for 2015 information and to sign up for Central City Opera’s Email Club for the latest news and updates.