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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Opening Day 2010

Opening Day 2010 dawned gray and chilly last Saturday, but everyone was in high spirits, in anticipation of the day. The 2010 Central City Opera Flower Girls - Caroline Jeanne Ferguson Wong, Claire Hopkins Peterson, Rebecca Evelyn Gleichenhaus, and Meghan Alexandria Colip - gathered in the Teller House with their escorts to get ready to be presented to society. Meanwhile, we ushers gathered in front of Festival Hall in preparation for our own unique presentation: the Usher Song.

Thanks to fellow usher Kristin Orlando for this photo.

Later that afternoon, it started to pour, and for a few minutes we were all worried we'd have to do the Flower Girl ceremony inside. Luckily, the rain cleared up in time for everything to work out as planned. The girls were presented to the waiting crowd, and everyone cheered and complimented them on their lovely dresses. We ushers then sang and marched to the Usher Song. General/Artistic Director Pat Pearce ceremoniously opened the opera house doors for the first time in 2010, and declared that the festival had officially begun.

Then it was time for the waltz.

Photo Credit: Erin Joy Swank

Afterwards, everyone went off to dinner in the Teller House and then to the opening performance of Madama Butterfly. It went well from all aspects, and everyone was delighted to have been a part of such a lovely day.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Central City Happenings

It's almost time for the season to start, and Central City is buzzing with people and activity. The season doesn't officially begin until Saturday, but Madama Butterfly's final dress rehearsal is today, which means we have our first audience! Everyone has been preparing all week.

The ushers learned the famous Ushers' Song last week, and this week we learned how to do our march down Eureka Street. Former intern and current Education and Community Programs Coordinator Deven Shaff was nice enough to come up from Denver and teach us the ropes. It was pretty fun, and we're all psyched to try it for the first time in our uniforms this afternoon!

On Monday, the city of Central threw the opera company their annual picnic. The company showed up to find free food, drinks, and a lovely trio of musicians playing for our entertainment. There was mingling, swinging on swings (see studio artist Megan Gillespie and apprentice artist Monica Boldt to the right) and general merriment. It was a lovely event.

Later in the week I got the opportunity to see the Orpheus in the Underworld photoshoot, which was super fun and colorful. Look how awesome those costumes are! I can't wait to see the whole ensemble in costume - it is going to be SWEET!

We hope to see you at a performance soon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lou Bunch Day

Lou Bunch Day 2010 dawned bright and early, with people lining the street to watch the dancers and entertainment before the parade began.

It was so exciting to see so many people in normally quiet Central City. It made for some awesome people watching, as everyone was dressed in their Lou Bunch best.

While Central City Opera wasn't able to participate with a bed race team this year, a bunch of interns and a friend or two wandered down to watch the famous races and see what it was all about.

Thanks to Shannon O'Connor Kenney for this lovely photo. From left, Nancy McDonald (Events), Krissy Zic (a lovely visitor), Nick Menge (Props), Jackie Grigg (Assistant House Manager), Me (Public Relations), & Mollie Albert (Stage Management PA).

We weren't disappointed - the bed race was crazy!

Everyone was dressed up and super excited to be racing.

In the end, Doc Holliday was triumphant!

What a crazy day!! Lou Bunch Day certainly was an experience!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Central City Round Up

Life is getting crazy busy here in Central City. There's so much going on that I'm not sure I can even blog about it all! In the past week Three Decembers started rehearsals, the ushers learned to sing the famous Usher Song, three board members were fitted for costumes for walk-on rolls in Orpheus in the Underworld, publicity photos were taken for Madama Butterfly, and John Moriarty shared with us the history of Central City Opera at the annual company meeting. Craziness!

I got the chance to attend both the design meeting and the first staging rehearsal for Three Decembers, and I am now totally hooked on that show. As principal artist Emily Pulley said in the design meeting, "It's not an opera, it's group therapy, really." And who doesn't like to see group therapy with music? I definitely do. Director Ken Cazan, who last directed West Side Story at Central City Opera in 2008, said "the theatre will never let you down," and I have a feeling this opera won't let us down either. I'm excited about it. [View Ken Cazan's Director's Notes on Three Decembers.]

Meanwhile, the ushers woke up early one morning to learn the Ushers' Song with Associate Conductor Andrew Altenbach. They don't look particularly happy about in this photo, but I swear we perked up once the real singing started. And just wait until we learn to march - it is going to be epic!

This morning we all attended the Central City Opera annual meeting, which was pretty awesome. John Moriarty told us the history of the Opera company, and I learned so much! I wasn't able to get any good pictures, but there's a historical reason for that, I swear. Apparently, the lighting in the opera house is super low because the paintings on the ceiling were meant to be seen in gas light. Mr. Moriarty told us that under modern bright lights, the colors look incredibly garish. Who knew!? And that was only one small fun fact we learned this morning.

Over the course of the week, three opera Board Members came in to get fitted for their costumes for the walk-on rolls they have in Orpheus in the Underworld. I stopped by George Ann Victor's fitting this morning. It was really fun to see how excited she was about her role and about her awesome costume. Look to the right. How cool is that! Just wait until you see her boots.

So life is starting to get busy busy busy in Central City. Trust me, you'll hear from me soon. Until then, scroll down and read the fun facts about Madama Butterfly Marc Shulgold put together.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


One of my favorite things about this internship so far is that I get to watch the professional publicity photo shoots. This is a great opportunity for me because I'm a photographer myself, so I really enjoy watching professionals work. On Tuesday, photographer Kira Horvath came to Central City for the Madama Butterfly photo shoot. Yunah Lee (Butterfly) and Chad Shelton (Pinkerton) showed up in costume and brought their good looks and acting skills to the shoot. I just brought my camera.

Marc Shulgold’s Fun Facts on MADAMA BUTTERFLY

Marc Shulgold, former music critic of the Rocky Mountain News has put together some fun facts for us on Madama Butterfly. Marc has contirbuted to numerous national music publications and is a popular pre-concert speaker at programs by the Colorado Symphony and others.

• The opera is based on the play Madame Butterfly by David Belasco, an American who authored The Girl of the Golden West, later to become another Puccini opera. While in London in 1900, Puccini saw Belasco's Butterfly and was immediately inspired. The play had been adapted from a short novel by Philadelphia lawyer John Luther Long – though another possible source is Pierre Loti's popular novel, Madame Chrysanthème. In any case, the plot stems from a tale that seems to be based in fact. Long's sister, Jennie, was married to an Episcopal missionary who worked in Japan. Years after the opera's premiere, Jennie gave talks that recalled the sad tale of a young neighbor, a Japanese tea-house girl named Cho-San (Miss Butterfly) who was wooed by an American sailor, became “a temporary wife,” bore him a child, and was subsequently abandoned by him.

• In November, 1900, as Puccini awaited the arrival of Belasco's play, he shared with his publisher Giulio Ricordi his anticipation at composing the opera, revealing an interesting concept, later discarded: “I think instead of one act I could make two quite long ones: the first in North America and the second in Japan.”

• Puccini took great pains to bring authenticity to his score, researching traditional Japanese melodies and importing recordings of music from that country as he worked in Italy. He gained valuable information from a Mrs. Oyama, the wife of the Japanese ambassador to Rome, who often sang to the composer songs of her homeland . The score includes at least 10 traditional melodies, including the Japanese national anthem, Kimi ga yo, heard during the wedding of Cio-Cio San and Pinkerton.

• Besides the familiar aria, “Un bel di” (One Fine Day), the most recognizable tune in the opera is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” quoted in the opening act as Pinkerton and Sharpless drink a toast to America. Back then, the music was familiar as the U.S. Navy anthem – it did not become our National Anthem until 1931.

• In 1984, Malcom McLaren, an English rock impresario who founded the notorious band the Sex Pistols, released his techno record, Madame Butterfly. It boldly blended a driving disco beat, snippets of the Puccini aria, “Un bel di,” a narrative spoken by a Southern-accented Pinkerton and a vocal sung by Cio-Cio San. McLaren died earlier this year. This link includes the audio track and lyrics.

Above Right: Yunah Lee in Central City Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY (2010). Photo by Kira Horvath.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lunchtime Concert at the Library

This afternoon, patrons at the Boulder Public Library were treated to a free concert previewing the summer festival as well as showcasing other opera favorites performed by members of the Central City Opera Ensemble. I usually think of libraries as quiet places, but the walls were reverberating with the sound of opera today!

Juliette Bratsch of the library introduced us as a "gem of an opera company" and remarked that our productions are the best she's seen anywhere. Deborah Morrow, Central City Opera's Director of Education and Community Programs, briefly set up each piece giving context for what was about to be heard. Starting off with a marital spat scena from Orpheus in the Underworld, Tenor Jason Baldwin (accompanied by Deborah Schmit-Lobis) attempted to "change the faithless heart" of Soprano Amanda Raddatz, by playing her his latest violin concerto....much to the chagrin of his wife.

Next was Lt. Pinkerton's beautiful aria "Addio fiorito" from Madama Butterfly, with audience members smiling along to the familiar tune. Patrons soon discovered a "new favorite" listening to the poignant shared memory between siblings in the Bridge Duet from Three Decembers.

The concert also included other opera favorites, and the audience was privy to a sneak-peek of the 2011 festival selections, before the official press release. If you weren't there, you'll have to wait to hear!

Save the date for our next Boulder Public Library concert on Sunday July 11th. We'll be performing our original bilingual one-act opera En Mis Palabras (In My Own Words).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Music & Martinis

It is raining cats and dogs in Central City this weekend, and I am thinking fondly back to last Thursday, when the fun of the Music & Martinis Event almost drove the rain away from Denver. It was a lovely evening full of fantastic entertainment and fancily dressed guests, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The night was lively even before the performances began. John Moriarty got the chance to chat with some newly costumed interns,

Pat Pearce danced with the Can-can girls,

The rest of the evening went off very well. John Moriarty, Pat Pearce, and principal artist Emily Pulley gave entertaining introductions and commentary throughout the evening.

The apprentice artists sang, treating us to such classics as "Warm as the Autumn Light" from The Ballad of Baby Doe (sung by Sammus Haddad) and "You'll Never Walk Alone" (sung by Monica Boldt). Other treats included an aria by the lovely Emily Pulley, a duet by Ms. Pulley and Pat Pearce, and a gorgeous piano number played by John Moriarty. There was also a lively auction and beautiful decorations including, of course, some yellow roses.

It did rain that evening, but guests were rewarded with an amazing double rainbow outside the Cable Center's window.

I'm not sure how Central City Opera's party planners pulled that one off, but they get major props from me, both for the rainbows and for a lovely evening!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Central City Happenings

It's a busy week here in Central City - Butterfly's rehearsals continue, Orpheus' rehearsals have just started, and Music and Martinis is on the horizon!

I had the pleasure of attending Orpheus' first rehearsal last night, and was delighted to be able to watch some choreography in progress. Director/Choreographer Marc Astafan* jumped right in to one of the dance numbers, and they start the Can-can tonight. So exciting! I can tell just by watching one rehearsal that this show is going to be hilarious, and I'm totally psyched.

Over the weekend, Central City was crowded with both Russian tourists (Who knew this town was an international destination? I didn't.) and visitors to the Gilpin County Arts Association 64th Annual Fine Art Exhibition opening. I stopped by and was semi-shocked to discover that despite the fact that the Gilpin County Arts Association Gallery is somewhat nondescript from the outside, it is gorgeous on the inside, and pretty big too. I know I'm going to be spending some of my lunch breaks enjoying both the space and the art work, and I suggest you visit if you get the chance.

Next up, Music & Martinis and percussion load in. I can't wait!

*View Marc Astafan's Director's Notes on Orpheus in the Underworld

Thursday, June 3, 2010


It's official - rehearsals have started for Madama Butterfly! The crew was up at dawn on Wednesday morning to move the set from backstage to the Foundry rehearsal hall.

Moving Butterfly's Set

They seemed to be having a pretty good time.

The Crew

I got the chance to sit in on the first staging rehearsal later that day, and that was a pretty good time as well. Director Catherine Malfitano* expressed her enthusiasm for the project to the cast, stressing the "joyous experience" of the 2005 production. She made sure to mention that this show wasn't just an opportunity to "replicate another Butterfly," but also a chance to make changes and "show [the audience] the complexity of these characters." It was super exciting to hear her speak and to watch the artists get up on their feet for the first time. I won't give any staging secrets away, but I will say that the two hours of rehearsal I got to watch psyched me up for the show. I'm getting excited for the festival! I hope you are, too.

*View Catherine Malfitano's Director's Notes for Madama Butterfly

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guild Planting Day

Today is Guild Planting Day here in Central City and the flowers are popping up everywhere. This morning, pots were set out and ready to be filled.

Empty Pots

And the flowers were laid out and ready to be planted in them.


Guild members worked hard all day...

Guild Members Plant


and by the afternoon, everything was looking gorgeous!

Opera House Doors

The Chair Garden

Myrna Loy & Flowers

Flowers in the Arches

Way to go, Guild!