CENTRAL CITY — Central City Opera opens its 2016 summer festival with Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe, running in repertory from July 9 through August 6, in the historic 550-seat opera house in Central City.
“We are always thrilled to bring Baby Doe home, said Pelham (Pat) Pearce, general and artistic director of Central City Opera, now in his 20th season with the company. “While we’ve produced this opera many times here, this summer’s production is so fresh and compelling that you’ll not want to miss it,” said Pearce. “Most exciting is the exquisite lighting and scene projections of actual locations in Colorado, including images of the cabin at the Matchless Mine in Leadville, where Baby Doe spent her final days.”
Set in Leadville, Colorado, during the mining days of the late 1800s, The Ballad of Baby Doe, written and performed in English, is based on the tragic love triangle of Colorado silver baron Horace Tabor, his wife Augusta, and a woman who once lived in Central City, Mrs. Elizabeth “Baby” Doe. Central City Opera commissioned and premiered the opera in 1956 and last performed it in 2006.
“The thing I love most about what we are doing with this production is focusing on the human story,” said Timothy Myers, conducting The Ballad of Baby Doe for his first time. “Pieces like Baby Doe can easily come across as what I call a ‘docu-opera,’ so I love that we are focusing on the relationships of the characters and bringing the music to life from a very organic place.”
Central City Opera welcomes back Anna Christy (soprano), who makes her role debut as Baby Doe. Familiar to Central City Opera audiences, Ms. Christy sang the role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro (2014), Emily Webb in Our Town (2013), and Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann (2004). Grant Youngblood (baritone) makes his role debut as the silver baron and speculator Horace Tabor. Another familiar voice to Central City Opera audiences, Youngblood sang Sharpless in Madama Butterfly (2010), Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor (2009), and Germont in La traviata (2007). New to the Central City Opera stage this summer is Susanne Mentzer (mezzo-soprano), who sings her first Augusta Tabor. Mentzer sang the role of Marcellina in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2015-2016 production of Le nozze di Figaro. Colorado audiences may remember her from Opera Colorado’s 2009 production of Cosi fan tutte, when she sang the role of Despina. Rounding out the principal cast are Donald Hartmann (bass-baritone), who makes his Central City Opera debut singing the role of William Jennings Bryan, and Sarah Barber (mezzo-soprano), also making her Central City Opera debut, singing the role of Mama McCourt, Baby Doe’s mother.
David Martin Jacques, Central City Opera’s resident lighting designer, provides the scene projections. Ken Cazan, known for his work on Central City Opera’s The Prodigal Son (2015), Dead Man Walking (2014), The Sound of Music (2014), and Our Town (2013), directs his first Baby Doe; and Timothy Myers, who conducted Central City Opera’s Carmen (2011), is the maestro in the pit.
“Our audience will find Moore’s score immediately accessible and exceptionally melodic,” said Myers. “After hearing soaring, emotional arias to chorus numbers that verge on Broadway style, people will leave the theatre with some great American music in their memory.”
The Central City Opera 2016 Summer Festival continues with Puccini’s powerful and passionate thriller, Tosca, opening July 16 and running through August 7. Complementing the two mainstage operas—The Ballad of Baby Doe and Tosca—are two one-act operas: Mozart’s The Impresario performed in Central City on July 27 and August 3 at noon, at the Williams Stables Theater, and in Boulder on July 28, at The Nomad Playhouse, at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Musto’s Later the Same Evening, performed in Colorado Springs on July 28, at the Pikes Peak Arts Center, Studio Bee, at 7 p.m., the Denver Art Museum on July 30, at 8 p.m., and in Central City on August 5, at the Gilman Studio in the Lanny and Sharon Martin Foundry Rehearsal Center, at 7 p.m. For tickets and information on all of the festival offerings, visit www.centralcityopera.org or call the box office at 303-292-6700, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Ballad of Baby Doe
Composer: Douglas Moore
Librettist: John Latouche
Commissioned by Central City Opera
Premiered in 1956 at the Central City Opera House
Sung in English with English supertitles
Estimated running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission
(in order of vocal appearance)
Horace Tabor: Grant Youngblood
Augusta Tabor: Susanne Mentzer*
Mrs. Elizabeth (Baby) Doe: Anna Christy
Mama McCourt: Sarah Barber*
William Jennings Bryan: Donald Hartmann*
*=Central City Opera Debut
Conductor: Timothy Myers
(Aaron Breid, July 19 performance)
Director: Ken Cazan
Assistant Director: Amanda Consol
Set, Lighting, and Projections Designer: David Martin Jacques
Assistant Projections Designer: Brian Freeland
Costume Designer: Sara Jean Tosetti
Wig/Makeup Designer: Liz Parintz
Chorus Master: Aaron Breid
Musical Preparation: Michael Baitzer, John Arida
Stage Manager: Diane Lin Cole
Assistant Stage Manager: Bryce Bullock
8 p.m.: July 9, 29; August 2, 6
2:30 p.m.: July 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 27, 31; August 4