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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Now Playing at a School Near You: The Great Opera Mix-Up

"For drama that can't be beat, surprise them with something sweet."
- Lyrics from The Great Opera Mix-Up

The auditorium at Cory Elementary School in Denver was filled with laughter and familiar opera melodies this morning with two back-to-back student assemblies by Central City Opera's Ensemble Artists.  Singers Leslie Remmert-Soich, Erin Hackel and Aaron Pearson (accompanied by Deborah Schmit-Lobis) sorted out a zany operatic mixup, with help from students
and a few brave teachers.
Ultimately, they discovered that opera is simply storytelling with plot, characters, conflict, resolution – and music. And surprise – opera’s fun!

Photos by Erin Joy Swank
The Great Opera Mix-Up is just one of Central City Opera's many Education & Community programs that enhance existing curriculum for young students and lifelong learning for everyone.  We work directly with educators, community leaders, students and parents to make these offerings relevant, educational and entertaining.  To find out more, visit or contact the Education and Community Programs office at (303) 331-7026.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Puccini's Famous Aria "O mio babbino caro"

Gianni Schicchi, which Central City Opera will present in 2011, contains one of the best-known arias of the opera world -  "O mio babbino caro."  It has been used as the soundtrack for countless films and commercials, and even brought fame to 10-year-old Jackie Evancho on America's Got Talent.

In the film world, you'll find it in a wide variety of movies including G. I. Jane and Mr. Bean's Holiday, but it may be best known as the title track to A Room with a View.

While both of the above videos are beautiful examples of Puccini's aria, would you believe the piece was also used to promote the video game Grand Theft Auto III?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy December!

Download your December 2010 desktop wallpaper calendar (available in two sizes). Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's that vine in Central City?

Next time you make it to Central City, take another look at the plants growing there. Did you know some of them are hops?  Yes, the same hops that go in those tasty beverages.  Westword's "Beer Man," Jonathan Shikes, just wrote an interesting blog about it: "Wild hops keep Central City's history alive." 
Dostal Alley owner Buddy Schmalz shows off the hops vines around his home.  
Photo from Westword's blog.
Look for those vines as you walk around historic Central City, and maybe sample the results at Dostal Alley!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Calling All Gleeks! High School Summer Performing Arts Intensive Auditions Coming Up in October!

Do you know a talented teenager who's a fan of Glee?  A budding musician/singer/dancer/actor/playwright/composer looking for a great summer camp opportunity?  Have we got the program for you!
The 2010 Performing Arts Intensive scenes program performance.  Photo by Lucy Gram.
For the 8th year, Central City Opera is combining forces with the Colorado Springs Conservatory on our summer high school performing arts intensive, running July 17-30, 2011.  All the great art forms are covered in an INTENSIVE 14 day program.  Students spend the first week and a half in residency in Colorado Springs, learning and working with teaching artists to create a performance steeped in everything from Shakespeare to modern drama, tap dance to musical theatre to opera...and speaking of opera, that's one of the most interesting parts of this adventure.  In less than two weeks, the students research, create and perform an opera that they WRITE themselves! Yes, working with composer-in-residence Roger Ames, these twenty teenagers will see an original performance piece come to fruition.  And let me tell you from past experience, what these "kids" come up with is simply breathtaking.  In past years we've had beautiful duets about the (dysfunctional) relationship between Tony-award namesake Antoinette Perry and her daughter, a sweet number about Winfield Scott Stratton purchasing bicycles for the laundresses of Colorado Springs, a heartbreaking piece for Augusta Tabor (early Colorado senator Horace Tabor's ex-wife) as she looks in the mirror, and a hilarious rocking out number about cannibalism along the pioneer trail.  Many of these songs have also been accompanied by the students themselves on guitar, bass, cello and violin. You never know what you'll hear from year to year!

And to top it all off, the final four days of the intensive are spent in residency in Central City.  The students will see all of the 2011 opera productions (Carmen, Amadigi di Gaula, and our rotating double bill selected from Gianni Schicchi, Les Mamelles di Tiresias, and Seven Deadly Sins).  Students also observe several of the classes taken by members of Central City Opera's Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, which often include Diction or Audition topics.  Many Central City Opera Festival company members teach and work directly with the intensive students; past master classes include performance technique with music director John Baril, stage combat and movement sessions, and one-on-one discussions with principal artists and staff members.  The students also perform their scenes and opera program for the public during this final weekend.  (Those of you who are now dying to WATCH this performance, stay tuned for details and hold open the weekend of July 28-30.)

Students of the 2010 Performing Arts Intensive performing their original opera in Central City Opera's Williams Stables.  Photo by Lucy Gram.
This year for the first time, we're taking an "audition tour" around the state of Colorado during the month of October, with stops in Steamboat Springs, Ft. Collins, Greeley, Montrose, Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Denver; open to anyone ages 14-19. I really don't know of a more complete, truly amazing experience and such a complement to any training they may be already receiving in high school.  For audition requirements and dates, visit  We look forward to seeing you!

For more photos and details from the 2010 High School Performing Arts Intensive, visit our blog post.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Education & Community Programs - Something for Everyone

Anyone for a cup of tea?

We caught Central City Opera Ensemble Artists Leslie Remmert-Soich and Erin Hackel this week at a brush-up rehearsal for The Great Opera Mix-Up, one of several programs performed for students throughout the year.
While the summer festival has closed, Central City Opera continues to operate throughout the year.  The Education & Community Programs Department is busy with rehearsals for school shows, preparations for an Ensemble Showcase in October, and coordinating collaborations with other local arts organizations including the Colorado Children's Chorale, the Junior Symphony Guild, and the Colorado Springs Conservatory. We have programs for all ages - shows for elementary, middle and high school, as well as family-friendly concerts, speakers for your group, and singers available for your social gathering.  Choose from one of our programs, or have us tailor song selections to fit your event.  For more information or to schedule a performance by the Central City Opera Ensemble, visit or contact the Education and Community Programs office at (303) 331-7026.

To view all upcoming events, visit the Central City Opera Education Schedule. There's probably something that's just your cup of tea!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fun with the Habanera from CARMEN

Around the office, we already have the Habanera from Carmen (one of our 2011 productions) stuck in our head.  It's that tune you've heard countless times in tv and film, including a Bertolli's pasta commercial.  Think about this:  music from a French opera, set in Spain, to sell Italian pasta!

Well, today we turn to Jim Henson's loveable creations to bring us two favorite video clips of the Habanera. First, up is a classic Sesame Street clip:

And for our finale today, we bring you the Swedish Chef, Beaker, and Animal from the Muppets.  Trust me, this will be the one that gets stuck in your don't need to know the original lyrics, just "Bork" and "Meep" along!

Look forward to our production of Carmen in 2011!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Central City Elks Lodge Clock

While roaming the internet, I came across an interesting tidbit about the Elks Lodge in Central City, CO. Did you notice that the time is "stuck" at eleven o'clock? This wasn't an accident!

A picture of the clock was recently placed on (displayed below):
The description said, "This beautiful Elks Lodge building features a clock in the upper decorative story. The clock may not even have an actual clockworks since the Elks set their clocks to 11:00 [p.m.] in honor of the traditional toast." This was certainly a tradition I'd never heard of, so I followed the additional links provided which included another photo on with some history of the Central City Elks (pictured below)
and a historical link on the Elks website.

According to these two websites, the Central City lodge was organized in 1900 and purchased this building on Main Street in 1902. The lodge brought home many honors from the state Elks convention in Denver in 1906. Membership rates have varied over the years, with highs from mining booms and the building of the Moffat Tunnel and lows as a result of the 1918 flu epidemic and various difficult economic times.

As for the clock stuck at 11:00, there is an Elks traditional toast at that time, which harkens back to a curfew established after the Battle of Hastings when all fires had to be extinguishing at eleven o'clock. It began to be considered a somber time and gave rise to phrases like someone being on their deathbed in the "eleventh hour." Throughout the years various groups began using this time of night to honor those that had passed, which you can read more about on the Elks website. Some time in the early 1900s, the Elks adopted a "fixed and official" Eleven O'Clock Toast.

You have heard the tolling of 11 strokes.
This is to remind us that with Elks, the hour of 11 has a tender significance.
Wherever Elks may roam, whatever their lot in life may be, when this hour falls upon the dial of night, the great heart of Elkdom swells and throbs.
It is the golden hour of recollection, the homecoming of those who wander, the mystic roll call of those who will come no more.
Living or dead, Elks are never forgotten, never forsaken.
Morning and noon may pass them by, the light of day sink heedlessly in the West, but ere the shadows of midnight shall fall, the chimes of memory will be pealing forth the friendly message,
"To our absent members."

You can find several more Eleven O'Clock Toasts on the same Elks website.

Look for this and other great historical buildings the next time you head to Central City!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Closing of the 2010 Festival

Well, loyal readers, it looks like it's that time. The 2010 Central City Opera Festival has officially closed, and all of our artists and designers are leaving Central City in search of new adventures. The Festival Staff remains behind to clean, consolidate information, and just generally wrap things up. It's been a wonderful festival, and it'll be bittersweet to leave it behind!

I must admit that I started the summer unsure how to feel about opera, as my background is in theatre and my experience has previously been limited to my mother's collection of opera recordings. Now, however, I'll leave Central City with a new appreciation for opera and for the people who make it possible. I am grateful to my fellow Festival Staffers,

the music staff,

the designers and technicians,

the directing staff,
the members of our wonderful casts,

and all of the other hard working people who helped put Madama Butterfly, Orpheus in the Underworld, and Three Decembers on stage for audiences to see.

Photo by Mark Kiryluk.

I learned a lot and had a lot of fun, and I hope you guys did too!

Happy Closing from the 2010 Company. Central City Opera looks forward to seeing you when the yellow roses bloom again in 2011.

Photo by Mark Kiryluk.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Face on the Barroom Floor

The Face on the Barroom Floor is famous, but no one quite knows the real story behind it. There are many versions of the story, from the poem by H. Antoine D'Arcy to the opera by Henry Mollicone. I, however, subscribe to the Henry Mollicone version, if only because I got to see the opera itself the other day. Face on the Barroom Floor was written for Central City Opera in 1978, and is now performed as one of our Festival Extras each summer. I got the chance to pop in and take some photographs of the performance and I was delighted with both the story and the artists. Face is double casted, which means that you won't know which cast you'll get to see if you come see one of the two performances left - on August 4th and 8th. I suggest you take a gamble and come see it, as both casts are fabulous and the opera itself is simultaneously fun and dramatic.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Signor Deluso

Among my favorite things about this festival are the festival extras; especially Signor Deluso and Face on the Barroom Floor. I love getting the chance to see our Apprentice and Studio Artists show off their operatic chops and, while I haven't seen Face yet, Signor Deluso is just plain hilarious. Written by Thomas Pasatieri and based on the Moliere play Sganarelle, the comic opera is directed by Artistic Director Emeritus John Moriarty, who conducted the original production of the show in 1974. Signor Deluso tells the story of two couples who suspect that their loved ones are having affairs with others. I went to see a performance last week, and it was awesome. I'll sum it up for you in photos.

Monday, July 26, 2010

2010 Summer Performing Arts Intensive

It's been a whirlwind weekend up here in Central City. Colorado Springs Conservatory partnered with Central City Opera for the seventh Summer Performing Arts Intensive, bringing fourteen talented high school students to Central City for the weekend. The kids had been working for two weeks on a program of scenes and songs and their own original opera based on the life of Colorado native Antoinette Perry, Broadway actress, producer and namesake of the Tony Awards. The students came from around the country to spend those two weeks in Colorado Springs, culminating in a weekend of opera and performance right here in Central City.

They arrived last Wednesday and were greeted with a sandwich supper with company members. The students got to interact with some of the artists and staff members and ask questions, and it was lovely to talk to a group of such bright, interested students. They had seen Three Decembers before dinner, and they were all delighted to have Decembers stars Emily Pulley and Keith Phares to talk to. Other company members shared their wisdom as well, and as a student myself, I was thrilled to be able to hear their advice and watch them interact so warmly with the Summer Intensive students.

That, however, was just the beginning. The students got to see all three operas over the weekend, as well as some festival extras. In the midst of it all, they attended classes with CCO Musical Director John Baril and Artistic Director Emeritus John Moriarty, and they rehearsed for their performances, which took place Friday and Saturday night. I had the pleasure of attending Friday night's performance. I was touched and thrilled by what I saw. The performance consisted of a scenes program called Through the Eyes of a Child and an original opera, Toni: The Story of Antoinette Perry. The whole scene program was entertaining, but my favorite parts were the songs and monologues from the famous musical A Chorus Line. I sang in A Chorus Line when I was in high school, and I have a lot of wonderful memories that revolve around that show. The sections from it in the scenes program took me back. It was awesome.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes program, what I was really impressed with was the opera. Toni was entertaining, informative, and well written. The music was catchy and the performances were compelling. And while it perhaps bore more resemblance to musical theatre than it did to opera, I can't fault anyone for that; I enjoyed it too much.

It was also such a great pleasure to have high school kids around who were so enthusiastic about opera and theatre and so excited to be here! Opera generally has an older audience, so I'm always excited when I see one young person in the audience. It was inspiring to have 14 of them here.

Thanks to the hard work of everyone at the Colorado Springs Conservatory and here in CCO's education department and otherwise for their hard work in making this happen. It was a lovely weekend!

The Performing Arts Intensive is open to students ages 14-19.  Auditions for the 2011 Intensive will be held in the fall.  Visit or for more information.