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Sunday, July 10, 2011

More Fun with CARMEN as Central City Opera Stars Sing with Jim Henson Characters

In our continuing series of "Where Have I Heard That?" we return to the ever-popular Carmen. There is no end to the number of times this familiar music has been used in pop culture, appearing lately in ads for the reality TV show, Love in the Wild, and other commercials. But my favorite uses are still those done by Jim Henson and company. There are even some direct Central City Opera correlations to these too!

Bass-baritone Samuel Ramey received some of his early training at Central City Opera:
A young Samuel Ramey (back row, in front of the post, smiling) in rehearsals for Don Giovanni at Central City Opera, 1963. Photo credit Mike O'Meara.
“I grew up in Western Kansas, where the only opera was on recordings,” remembers Ramey.  “I was fascinated by it, but had never seen a performance.  A friend of mine happened to hear that Central City was auditioning college-aged singers for the chorus and persuaded me to apply.  I made a tape at the local radio station, and lo and behold, I was hired.” The world-renowned bass- baritone made his singing debut in that 1963 production of Don Giovanni, a star-studded production that included Sherrill Milnes, Norman Treigle, Richard Cross, Spiro Malas, and Justino Diaz.
Samuel Ramey performed Carmen's "Toreador" on Sesame Street, with some slightly different lyrics. "L is the letter that I love the most.  L helps me go, 'Low, low, low, low!'" Come on, you can sing along with this one - the words are incorporated for you in this fun clip.

The great soprano Beverly Sills also performed on the Central City Opera stage in the 1960 production of Aida. (See several pictures in this Denver Post article.) Sills is incredibly fun to watch "hamming it up" with Miss Piggy and other Muppet Show pigs in the sketch "Pigoletto." Several operas are quoted, including Carmen during another "Toreador" spoof. A porcine character sings, "Toreador...this is the only opera that I know; I've heard this one, it's good!"

You've heard "Toreador" nearly everywhere - not to mention the "Habanera" - but wouldn't you like to enjoy this wonderful music in person?  How about under the stars? This year, we're offering a special performance of Carmen under the stars in Denver.  Join us this Tuesday, July 12th at the Comfort Dental Amphitheatre (formerly known as Fiddler's Green) in Greenwood Village.  Tickets are just $22 for adults, $15 for kids. All seats are general admission and the doors open at 6:00 p.m. for the performance at 7:30 p.m.


  1. The idea behind this blog post Central City Opera Stars Sing with Jim Henson Characters is outstanding,

  2. All in all, I like her. Yes, I think she is dramatic at times, but it seems like everyday communication includes a little showmanship to convery your message. Ill tell you, she seems to have a great style! I like her!
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