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Friday, June 29, 2012

Denver Public Library's Fresh City Life takes a Road Trip

Last Saturday, participants from Denver Public Library's Fresh City Life took a road trip to Central City. First on the agenda was attending one of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program's classes, which focused on auditioning.  We watched as the young artists, chosen from a pool of over 900 applicants, rehearsed an aria as if they were at an audition. Program Administrator Marc Astafan and Principal Coach Michael Baitzer gave each singer feedback on their mock auditions -- everything from their attire to the organization of the book of music given to their accompanist.

Apprentice Artist Stephen Carrol sings his audition aria as Program Administrator Mark Astafan, right, looks on. 
After watching a few of the talented young artists, we made our way down the hill to Main Street for an old-fashioned shoot out, performed by members of the Gilpin County Historical Society.
An unsuspecting onlooker is roped into an attempted shotgun wedding before being run out of town.

Next on the agenda was a look at the costumes of Oklahoma! with Costume Designer Marcy Froehlich. You can get your own virtual sneak peak of the costumes in our earlier vlog post.

After a lunch in the beautiful Opera Garden, we took a tour of the historic Teller House, once the most opulent hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. Finally, it was time for the Oklahoma! wandelprobe.

An important stage of the opera production process is the sitzprobe-- a German term which literally means "seat test." It's the rehearsal in which the singers sit on the stage while singing with the orchestra for the first time.

A wandelprobe, however, is an entirely made-up word, used for when the singers actually move around the stage while rehearsing with the orchestra for the first time. After enjoying the first hour of the wandleprobe from the Opera House's balcony, we made our way back to Opera Garden for a quick Q-and-A session.
Participants from Fresh City Life watch from the balcony as the cast sings "Kansas City" with the orchestra for the first time.
Gene Scheer (Ali Hakim) sings "It's a Scandal, It's an Outrage," surrounded by a chorus of cowboys.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Richard Rodgers - and the OKLAHOMA! Trailer

Today marks what would have been the 110th birthday of Richard Rodgers, composer of Oklahoma!

And just in time, we've got a trailer ready for you to hear one of his greatest hits!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Character Spotlight: OKLAHOMA!'s Will Parker

Erin Joy Swank, of the Education & Community Programs Department, recently caught up with baritone Curt Olds. Below is an excerpt from that interview.

Welcome back to Central City Opera! We last saw you on stage as John Styx in Orpheus in the Underworld (2010). While keeping guard over Eurydice in Hades, you entertained us in song and dance. This summer you’ll once again charm the audience as the dancing rodeo cowboy Will Parker in Oklahoma!

You’ve made a career out of working as a “triple threat,” a performer who acts, sings and dances. Can you explain the similarities and differences working in opera, musical theatre and dance?

Thanks for the compliment of calling me a "triple threat." The skills that might make me a "triple threat" as you say (singing, acting and dancing) come out of my theatre training and years of doing musicals as a child and young adult. In the musical theatre world, a performer definitely has to possess a singing voice, but singing tends to be on equal footing with acting ability and, if the dramatic moment calls for it, the singing might be compromised for dramatic effect. Regarding dance, if a singer also happens to have the ability to dance, then it opens an entire new world of casting possibilities. In the operatic world, singing and attention to the voice is everything. If an opera singer possessing a world-class voice can also act -- and I mean not only just while singing, but also in the moments on stage that are unsung -- then they have the makings of a major career. But the voice and ability to use it come first. And that is a very good thing. For most opera singers, acting skills are developed later because of the heavy requirements of foreign languages and the study of historical performance practices. With me, when I was studying opera, I put all serious acting, dancing and musical theatre study on the back burner for a little over six years. I had to concentrate on vocal studies and languages. My main objective when performing is to affect the audience, to move them, to make them feel. Any extra skill to help do that is a bonus.
Central City Opera’s ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD (2010). Pictured (L to R): Joanna Mongiardo (Eurydice) and Curt Olds (John Styx). Photo by Mark Kiryluk.
You’ve played Curly in a past production of Oklahoma! What is it like to prepare for the role of Will Parker this time?

When I played Curly, all I really wanted to do was play Will Parker. I am definitely a casting possibility for Curly, but personally, I am much more like Will Parker and I understand the comic elements of the role. Curly is cool, steady. He has to be to deal so keenly with Jud Fry. Will is a wild card and easily excitable. The great thing about Oklahoma! is I still get to be handsome and cute outside of the central romantic leading man. I feel very fortunate to have played both roles professionally and Rodgers and Hammerstein shows are always so fulfilling to perform. I did The Sound of Music earlier this season and Oklahoma! is a personal favorite of mine. Win win.
Central City Opera’s OKLAHOMA! (2012). Pictured: Kaitlyn Costello (Ado Annie), Curt Olds (Will Parker). Photo by Kira Horvath.
You were also a past Apprentice and Studio Artist with Central City Opera. What did you learn or practice in the artist training program that helped you in your career development?

The Bonfils-Stanton Training Program was instrumental to any success I have enjoyed over the past twenty years. I was a college kid from Montana with no idea how to approach a singing career on a national level. I came to Denver and sang for John Moriarty and it changed my life. Not only did Central City Opera's training program offer wonderful classes in diction, audition technique, movement, and repertoire, but it also provided me with quality stage time in comprimario [supporting] roles, recital engagements and scenes concerts. That first summer with Central City Opera led to my graduate studies at New England Conservatory and additionally, Central City Opera gave me some of my first principal roles. I will be forever grateful.

The full interview with Curt will be available in the 2012 Opera Insider (festival resource guide) very soon. Stay tuned for more insider interviews!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Costumes of OKLAHOMA!

Marcy Froehlich
For the latest video episode of Behind the Curtain, I spoke with Costume Designer Marcy Froehlich about her design for Oklahoma! This is Marcy's first year at Central City Opera, and as a self-proclaimed history buff, she's enjoying spending the summer in such a historic locale. Watch the video below for a sneak peak at her designs, including her sketches and the research that inspired the costumes.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Conversations With Ken Cazan: Part Two

Below are the final two installments of my interview with Ken Cazan, stage director of Oklahoma! Here he explains what makes Central City Opera's production unique and gives audiences a sneak peek at what to expect if they travel up the mountain for this production, including a preview of the scenic design by Alan E. Muraoka.

View Part One

For continued behind-the-scenes updates on Central City Opera's Oklahoma!, follow #CCityOK on Twitter!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Celebrating John Moriarty

Artistic Director Emeritus John Moriarty is spending his first summer of retirement where he's spent the last thirty-three: in Central City.  Last night, Central City Opera celebrated his years of service during a reception at the Gilpin County Arts Association Gallery across the street from the Opera House.

Mr. Moriarty first arrived in Central City in 1978 and founded the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program. After the company ran into financial trouble and cancelled the 1982 Festival, the Board of Directors asked him to become artistic director. When he transitioned to the role of artistic director emeritus in 1998, he continued to serve as the administrator of the training program through 2011.

At the reception, Mr. Moriarty explained that before he came to Central City, he had never spent more than seven years at any one opera company. Little did he know that he'd be spending the next three decades with Central City Opera.  

One of his accomplishments in his tenure as artistic director was creating the Lanny and Sharon Martin Foundry Rehearsal Center. Until that point, the company rehearsed on the creaky second floor of Williams' Stables and any other large space in town they could rent. John Moriarty had the vision of turning Peter McFarlane's old foundry, a few blocks west of the Opera House on Eureka Street, into a brand new rehearsal center. One of the busiest and most used buildings in Central City, the facility now houses three rehearsal halls, four smaller studios, the props shop and stage management office. At tonight's reception, President/Chairman of the Board Nancy Parker announced that one of the building's rehearsal halls, previously known as "Minor" will now be named "Moriarty Hall." Now, not only will John Moriarty's legacy live on in Central City through the countless contributions he has made to Central City Opera, but also in the rehearsal hall that bears his name. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Conversations with Ken Cazan: Part One

This week, I was fortunate enough to steal Ken Cazan, the stage director for Oklahoma! away from rehearsals to chat about the production. Central City Opera fans might recognize Ken. Oklahoma! marks his eleventh production with Central City Opera. Last year, he directed the triple bill (Gianni Schicchi, Seven Deadly Sins, and The Breasts of Tiresias) and in 2010 he directed Three Decembers. But Oklahoma! isn't his first musical theatre piece. He is an accomplished director for both opera and theatre, having directed A Little Night Music and West Side Story for CCO previously.

Check out our conversation below to see what Ken has to say about the history and the cast of this summer's opening productions. If you have any more questions for Ken Cazan or the rest of the Oklahoma! production team, leave a comment below. Stay tuned for "Part Two" coming soon!

View Part Two

Monday, June 11, 2012

Preparations Begin for the 2012 Festival

By Drew Kowalkowski, 2012 Festival Public Relations/Marketing Assistant

The curtain won't rise on Oklahoma! (Central City Opera's 2012 opening production) for almost three weeks, but Central City has already come alive with the sounds of opera. The lights are hung, set pieces are being loaded into the Opera House, flowers bloom along Eureka Street, and passersby driving up the hill are treated to the sounds of "Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'" and other Oklahoma! songs as the company prepares for opening day.

Billboards for this year's productions hang on the front of the Opera House.

Stagehands load set pieces into the Opera House.

Amy Whitaker ,wig/makeup assistant, prepares a wig.

Lindsey Sample, props assistant, spray paints fans to be used as props.

Kelsey Livingston, gift shop assistant, models a hair accessory for sale in the gift shop, which is now open for the summer.