Founded in 1983, Opera Colorado celebrated its 30th anniversary during the 2013 season. A cornerstone of Denver’s cultural community, Opera Colorado, led by Greg Carpenter, it’s General Director, presents its annual season in downtown Denver at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The Company has presented new works alongside standard repertoire, reaching nearly 40,000 students and community audiences throughout the Rocky Mountain region through a variety of education and outreach programming. Opera Colorado Young Artists, a five-month residency for singers at the beginning stages of their careers, continues to provide training for the next generation of American opera performers.
Florencia en el Amazonas
Back in 1980, a group of local opera fans met at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion to discuss the need for an opera company in Denver. While there were several regional companies, the Friends of Opera wanted to establish a major production company that would bring opera to audiences in the area. They soon attracted Nathaniel Merrill and Louise Sherman, two veterans of the Metropolitan Opera.
On April 4, 1983, Opera Colorado opened its first season opened on April 4, 1983, with a production of “Otello,” featuring internationally-acclaimed tenor, James McCracken. On April 5, the company performed “La Bohéme” with world-renowned tenor, Plácido Domingo.
All of Opera Colorado’s main stage productions took place in the round, in the Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver until 1992. To celebrate Opera Colorado’s tenth anniversary season, Mr. Merrill added a third main stage production in the Temple Buell Theatre. In 1998, Mr. Merrill was succeeded by Stephen Seifert, who became the President and General Director.
Under the leadership of Mr. Russell, Opera Colorado was able to restore and renovate the 1908 Auditorium Theater and created the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The hall was unveiled on September 10, 2005, with a gala concert featuring Renée Fleming, Ben Heppner, and James Morris. The season began with Denyce Graves and Beth Clayton alternating dates in the title role of Carmen.
That same season, Opera Colorado commissioned a new bilingual opera for the Outreach Ensemble to be performed in schools and community venues. The one-act family opera, “La Curandera,” was written by Robert Xavier Rodríguez, based on Mozart’s work. After opening on CU-Denver’s Auraria Campus at the King Center, this intimate chamber opera began touring schools around the state.
Opera Colorado celebrated its 25th Anniversary during the 2005-2006 season with a special concert version of “The Flying Dutchman,” starring premier Wagnerian bass James Morris. In 2008, Opera Colorado presented John Adams’ “Nixon in China,” as part of the National Performing Arts Convention held in Denver with Marin Alsop and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
During the past five seasons, Opera Colorado has presented Dvořák’s “Rusalka,” its first Czech language production; its first Spanish language production, the Rocky Mountain Regional Premiere of Daniel Catán’s “Florencia en el Amazonas;” Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet” and Mozart’s “Don Giovanni;” Verdi’s “Rigoletto;” Bizet’s Carmen;” Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly;” and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”
The 2015-2016 season features Verdi’s “Aida,” and the world premiere of a New American Opera, Lori Latemen’s “The Scarlet Letter.” Opera Colorado will present a series of literary discussions, poetry, film, music programs to explore the themes of this story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which is as relevant today as when the book was published in 1850.
In November, Opera Colorado will present Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” conducted by Ari Pelto, directed by Emma Griffin, with a cast including Melissa Citro, Mark Rucker, Jonathan Burton, Harold Wilson, Matthew di Battista, and Dick Johnson.
The Magic Flute
During the winter of 2017, “As One” with music and concept by Laura Kaminsky, libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, will be presented by Opera Colorado. In May, 2017, Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” will be presented in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House by Opera Colorado.
A proud member of OPERA America, among the many awards Opera Colorado has received, they were also awarded OPERA America’s Diversity Award. For info: Opera Colorado (303) 468-2030, email@example.com, www.operacolorado.org