Opera Colorado Announces 40th Anniversary Season
Opera Colorado announces its 2022-23 season, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the company’s founding in 1983.
The festive program includes Rigoletto by Verdi, a new production of Die tote Stadt by Korngold and Turandot by Puccini. The season opens with a one-night concert by Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana. The 40th anniversary season is generously sponsored by Marcia and Dick Robinson.
“It was such a pleasure to work with Music Director Ari Pelto to plan a 40th anniversary celebration season,” said Greg Carpenter, General and Artistic Director. “With classic operas we all love and rarely performed work, this season represents an artistic vision of our future. We have brought together some of the best singers, directors and creators, many of whom will make their company debuts. The entire season will feature value our outstanding Opera Colorado choir and orchestra.This is a season of grand opera at its finest, one that our patrons will long remember.
“Our 2022-23 season will be a special time for the artists, crew and staff across our business – a time to celebrate where we have been and what we have achieved, as well as look forward to where we have l The season we have planned reflects precisely this mentality, with the combination of masterpieces from the Italian repertoire and the hugely exciting challenge of our new Die Stadt tote,” says Music Director Ari Pelto.
The season begins with a classic production of Verdi’s Rigoletto (November 5, 8, 11 and 13, 2022), led by Opera Colorado music director Ari Pelto, whose “breathtaking sorcery in the pit” (The Denver Post) is consistently praised whether with Opera Colorado or at engagements across the country. Director Christopher Mattaliano makes his corporate debut.
Brimming with some of Verdi’s most recognizable melodies, Rigoletto tells the tragic story of the corrupt Duke of Mantua, his court jester Rigoletto, and Rigoletto’s innocent daughter, Gilda. In the title role (and his Opera Colorado debut) is baritone Stephen Powell, a “superb wide baritone who has an almost insolently free upper register and exceptional dynamic range” (Opera Magazine).
In the role of her daughter, the naïve Gilda, the soprano Sharleen Joynt also makes her debut at the Colorado Opera. “Joynt shines as Gilda…her silver coloratura reaches impossible heights and her gestures and mannerisms evoke both her character’s love for her father and her loving joy over her suitor” (Broadway World).
Rounding out the lead performers as the Duke of Mantua is tenor Matthew White, another debut at Opera Colorado. White recently made critically acclaimed debuts with the Cincinnati Opera and the Princeton Festival.
Rigoletto was last performed at Opera Colorado in 2014. The costumes for this production are from the Sarasota Opera House and the sets from the New Orleans Opera House.
After Rigoletto, Opera Colorado presents a new production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (February 25, 38, March 3, 5, 2023) with Pelto on the podium. A statement on the story and concept from director, Chas Rader-Shieber and set and costume designer Robert Perdziola:
At the end of the 19th century, the understanding of the human mind begins to open up and change. Obsessions, dreams and desires become interpretable and even understandable. It is in this environment (Bruges at the end of the 19th century) that the opera takes place; in an artist’s studio that includes all sets and accessories used in painting orders. Yet it is a surreal landscape of objects that have lives of their own and sometimes suggest other realms and places.
Paul is a somewhat successful painter, but he is caught in a downward spiral from which he cannot free himself. His studio has become strange in the accumulation of paintings, sketches and accessories that connect him to his late wife, Marie. Paul’s obsession begins to blur the lines between reality and fantasy. The beautiful dancer Marietta became the embodiment of Paul’s inability to come to terms with the loss of his late wife. Her resemblance to Marie is uncanny and disturbing, and like the creative process itself, she is both thrilling and terrifying. The story of Die tote Stadt is simple yet powerful – the artist searches for an end to his obsession, a result, a final painting – a painting that can never truly be finished.
The all-new sets and costumes will be designed by Robert Perdziola, one of today’s most sought-after designers who has also created sets and costumes for the American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Saito Kinen Festival, San Francisco Opera, Opera Monte Carlo, Garsington Opera, Opera Australia, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Cincinnati Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Boston and Glimmerglass Opera.
Tenor Brian Hymel, hailed by The New York Times for his “unwavering stamina and brash abandon,” makes his Opera Colorado debut as angsty artist Paul.
In her company debut, Sara Gatland plays the dual role of Marie, Paul’s late wife, and Marietta, a dancer and the mysterious look-alike of Marie. Opera News calls Ms. Garland “exquisite…[she] retains a silver thread that adorns its sound with an ethereal sheen.”
Baritone Daniel Belcher, an Opera Colorado favorite and voice teacher for our artists in residence, returns as Frank, an old friend of Paul, and Fritz, Pierrot de Marietta’s troupe. Betsy Bishop (Brigitte, Paul’s governess) and Jonathan Johnson (Victorin and Gastone) complete the cast.
This will be Opera Colorado’s first production of Die tote Stadt, an opera that fell out of view during World War II and is rarely performed due to the particularly difficult score and lead roles.
Die Stadt Tote is sponsored by an anonymous donor in honor of Dr. James K. Todd. The Orchestra for Die tote Stadt is sponsored by Kevin O’Connor and Janet Ellen Raasch.
Closing out our 40th anniversary season is Puccini’s larger-than-life Turandot (May 6, 9, 12, and 14, 2023), also directed by Pelto, and featuring director Aria Umezawa’s debut.
Opera Colorado is planning several community engagement and feedback events around this production, which has been criticized for its problematic exemplification of Western projections of Asian culture. “Working on a piece like Turandot is not a responsibility I take lightly. As a half-Japanese Canadian with a passion for opera and a desire to make a positive cultural contribution through my work, I understand the conflict of operas Orientalists of Puccini My goal for this production will be to delve into the conversations around this work, listen to the AAPI community and find a way to make their voices heard by engaging with this piece,” says Umezawa. We’ll share updates as they become available at operacolorado.org/riddle.
This tour de force tells the story of Princess Turandot, whose heart of ice has created a barrier around her and any potential suitor that comes her way – a barrier that can only be broken by the three-way answers. impossible puzzles. Soprano Kara Shay Thompson makes her Opera Colorado debut in the title role. Broadway World says, “Kara Shay Thompson as Princess Turandot is stunning. She has one of the most powerful voices I’ve ever heard.”
Three acclaimed singers return to Opera Colorado to complete the main cast. Tenor Jonathan Burton (Calàf) returns after appearing as Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West (2016), soprano Janai Brugger (Liù) after appearing as Micaëla in Carmen (2014) and bass Harold Wilson ( Timur) after his appearance as Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville (2019).
Turandot was last performed at Opera Colorado in 2001. The magnificent set comes from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the costumes from Santa Fe Opera.
To celebrate our 40th anniversary, we are offering a special one-night-only production of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana on September 10th. This semi-staged evening, directed by David Lefkowich, stars Catherine Martin as Santuzza, Catherine Cook as Lucia, Malcolm McKenzie as Alfio, Roberto de Biasio as Turiddu and former artist-in-residence Kira Dills-DeSurra as Lola. Music Director Ari Pelto will lead the Opera Colorado Orchestra, lifted from the pit and positioned on stage at the center of the action.
Season tickets for Opera Colorado’s 2022-23 season are on sale now. To subscribe or renew, visit operacolorado.org or call the Opera Colorado box office at 303.468.2030 (press 1).
The dates for the sale of single tickets will be announced at a later date.