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Monday, June 30, 2014

Central City Opera Begins 2014 Festival with a (Dynamite) Bang

The mining town of Central City runs reliably like clockwork: ominous clouds followed by only light rain between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon, then a bustling Eureka Street at 5:00, and finally a starry sky at midnight above the Rockies. On June 28, however, there was only sunlight, the traffic consisted of waltzing fathers and daughters, and the night was starry per usual, but this time alight with the dazzling cast and crew of Central City Opera’s The Marriage of Figaro.

Opening Night for Central City Opera’s 2014 Festival ran without a hitch. Denverites enjoyed the balmy weather as they arrived in Central City on Saturday afternoon in summer dresses and tuxedos. Children and grandparents, patrons and Guild members sauntered up and down Eureka Street, annually closed off for the opening’s festivities where cameras snap and champagne pops. The historic Johnson House and budding Teller House Garden hosted the opera patrons as they lounged in the sun before the day’s events began.

The Opera House basks in Saturday's sun on its 2014 Festival's Opening Day.

The familiar dinging of the Opera Bell rang for the first time this season at 4:50 PM – Festival Staffer Austin Abernathy announced that the Flower Girl presentation for the Yellow Rose Ball, Colorado’s oldest debutante ceremony, would begin in ten minutes. Powerful as the Opera Bell is, it was the booming dynamite blast at 5:00 PM from the staff of Hidee Gold Mine that truly kicked off the Festival. Chairman Emeritus Lanny Martin then introduced each of the 24 Flower Girls as they gracefully descended from the top floor of the Teller House down into its garden. Donning white gloves, the teenagers looked lovely in lavender as they assembled one by one in front of the Opera House, accompanied by their dapper escorts, for a photo op.

The 24 Flower Girls and their escorts pose in front of
the Opera House for a photo shoot.
Finally, General/Artistic Director Pelham "Pat" Pearce opened the Opera House and welcomed everyone to the 2014 Festival to near-dynamite applause. Pearce then directed everyone’s attention to the steps of St. James Methodist Church where the ushers sang their cheeky preshow tune. “We’re the ushers who show you to your seat, then nonchalantly we step upon your feet,” they sang, marching to the front of the Opera House.

Once the ushers finished their song, Central City Mayor Ron Engels presented the Opera Bell to Nancy Parker, Central City Opera’s current president. Parker rang the bell which signaled the St. James’ chimes to open Eureka Street for the Yellow Rose Waltz. Escorts then presented the Flower Girls to their fathers. Fathers and daughters began waltzing, then mothers joined in, and finally the rest of the guests until Eureka Street was swaying in three/four time, a harmony of lavender dresses, black tuxedos, and glimmering jewelry.

Festival Services Manager Allison Taylor (blue dress)
poses with this year's ushers/interns.
Guests next enjoyed a sumptuous meal (provided by Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group) in the Teller House before The Marriage of Figaro’s 8:00 curtain. At intermission, Flower Girls handed out yellow nosegays to patrons so that they could be tossed onto the stage during curtain call. By the time lead performers Michael Sumuel and Anna Christy (as lovelorn servants Figaro and Susanna) took their bows, the stage and orchestra pit below were flooded with flowers. The cast – joined by conductor Adrian Kelly, director Alessandro Talevi, and his talented team of designers – beamed as some tried to snatch the whizzing nosegays.

“[It’s a joy] watching the principal artists rehearse and perform. As a young artist, I love observing how they interact with the director, maestro, fellow principals, crew, and chorus,” said Kelsey Park, a Studio Artist who plays a maid and other ensemble roles in Figaro. “We also have a blast backstage – getting ready in the dressing rooms is an exciting adventure. We ladies enjoy a lot of laughs.”

Fathers waltz with their daughters, the Flower Girls,
on Eureka Street on Opening Night.
Following the performance, the company congregated on the second floor of Williams' Stables for the after party. Still maintaining Figaro’s 1920s Spain concept, Lifestyles Catering provided a themed meal complete with vegetable paella and panzanella salad with sangria, concocted by Events Assistant Sarah Harrison complete with oranges, lemons, and limes.

Harrison had the laborious task of planning the party and making sure that everyone, from the interns to the principal performers, enjoyed themselves in the stables-turned-dancehall. “I had a lot of various details in my head from logistics to food and decorations, so putting everything together and finalizing everything was definitely the most challenging part. Seeing it all gradually come together has been incredibly rewarding,” Harrison said.

The Marriage of Figaro continues through July 26th. The second Festival production, Dead Man Walking, opens July 5th and runs in repertory through the 25th.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Preview of our Singers from our First Dress Rehearsal of FIGARO!

The cast of The Marriage of Figaro is quite excited to finally be in costume! Susan Kulkarni did a beautiful job designing the 1920s inspired costumes, and we're excited to share them with a live audience on Opening Night, June 28. Until then, take a sneak peak at our social media-savvy singers tweeting, Facebooking and Instagram-ing themselves in costume backstage!

From Joseph Gaines, Tenor's Facebook page

Thanks for viewing, and we hope to see you at one of our 2014 Festival performances!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Central City Opera Perks Up: Gift Shop Now Sells Cholua Brothers' Coffee

Central City Opera patrons are used to the gift shop’s usual souvenirs. Homemade fudge, jewelry, and t-shirts with the summer's shows printed on them comprise the habitual goods. There are even some ornate and educational coffee table books, from Opera in the Rockies to Theatre of Dreams, yet there has never been any coffee. This year, the 2014 Festival is finally getting a little more caffeinated.

Brothers Dave and Anthony Cholua never meant to kick-start a coffee business. “Coffee roasting was just a hobby,” spokesman and co-owner Dave Cholua said. The brothers and their family always enjoyed crafting homemade coffee liquor, a creamy recipe gleaned from their ancestors, but their business never went farther than gifting the liquor to friends at Christmastime. Well, until they started experimenting with coffee roasting.

Brothers Dave (left) and Anthony Cholua display their
Naturally Flavored, Medium Roast and French Roast coffees in their store.
“People would tell us, ‘Do you realize you have the smoothest, boldest taste in the coffee business?’” Cholua said, and so the brothers considered opening their own company. Anthony had enough saved from bartending in Black Hawk, which also allowed him to perfect the liquor recipe, and Dave had the marketing know-how as a graphic designer. The business idea percolated into Cholua Bros. Mining Co., their fully realized and self-owned coffee store located in a centurial barn in Black Hawk. The brothers also enjoy recreational mining – their family emigrated from Poland in the 1800’s searching for gold – and often sport helmets and Western attire reminiscent of the gold rushes, hence the company’s title. “We get people trying to sell us mining equipment,” Cholua humorously lamented, “so we subtitled the business, ‘An Old Time Coffee Store.’”

The brothers’ rather spontaneous career shift became an even quicker reality. “The city of Black Hawk welcomed us with open arms,” a grateful Cholua said. The brothers had been selling their products online since last May, but when Black Hawk approved their lease they put the business in the barn, opening their doors on October 20.

Cholua Bros. Mining Co. is located on 470 Gregory Street in Black Hawk
in a historic barn that is more than one hundred years old.
The coffee beans hail from Brazil, but the brothers credit their natural flavors – vanilla, hazelnut, and pure caramel – and the high altitude roasting to their steaming success. The mountainous elevation and cool Rocky air are ideal for roasting as it produces a quicker coffee at a lower temperature, which prevents scorching. “We started roasting at 10,000 feet,” Cholua said. At such a high elevation, the brothers may be making coffee at the highest altitude in the United States. “That was our ore,” he smiled.

While Cholua Bros. Mining Co. also sells local barbeque sauces, pickled green beans, and even gold canning kits made by a professional geologist, the brothers emphasize that they run a coffee store and not a coffee shop. There are tables to sit at, but coffee is only sold in bags. If a customer wants to sample a flavor, however, the cup is always on the house. By this fall, one year from their grand opening, the brothers also hope to sell their famous coffee liquor. “It makes Kahlúa taste like cough medicine,” Cholua joked. Perhaps this will be another treat sold in the Central City Opera Gift Shop for the 2015 Festival.

“Two of the things I’ve heard we needed are ice cream and coffee, and now we have both,” said Wanda Larson, Central City Opera’s Office Administrator and Gift Shop Buyer. “We love having local vendors in the gift shop; I’m very excited to have them.” Larson also added that 100% of the gift shop’s proceeds always return to the Opera.

Stop by the Central City Opera Gift Shop beginning June 28
to buy some of the Cholua brothers' coffee!
Larson heard about Cholua Bros. Mining Co. in a newspaper and has since seen the pair around Gilpin County at various community events, from the Black Hawk Block Party to Madam Lou Bunch Day in Central City. “Hammond’s Candies [in Denver] is also selling our product, and they’re going to try out our liquor for their fudge. It’s a pleasure working with Central City Opera and Hammond’s Candies; these are two vintage landmarks,” Cholua said.

The brothers look forward to appearing at Central City Opera on June 28, the 2014 Festival’s Yellow Rose Ball and opening night of The Marriage of Figaro. They will also be present at each opera performance to sell their product at intermission and meet local patrons.

More than caffeinating, the brothers’ fresh coffee is also rejuvenating. “A little while ago I got a message from a woman in Michigan while in the Indianapolis airport on my way home from a friend’s wedding,” Cholua shared. “She said her husband has Stage IV esophagus cancer and hasn’t been able to drink coffee in two years, but she bought some of our coffee while out here. ‘He’s gone through half a bag!’ she told us and then ordered three bags online. Maybe it’s less acidic…we’re not coffee experts, but that was a pretty cool story.”

For now, the brothers are just happy to have satisfied customers and a uniquely crafted product. “It’s the most labor of love we’ve ever had,” Cholua said. “If we can make enough to retire, we’re the luckiest guys. And maybe that’s why it’s been so successful, because we love it so much.”

The Central City Opera Gift Shop is located in the historic Teller House just downhill of the Opera House in Central City. For The Sound of Music our gift shop will be located in the lobby of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dead Man Walking stars on public radio this past weekend

If you're a fan of Colorado Public Radio, you might have caught two of our Dead Man Walking artists over the airways this weekend. (They both play nuns, by chance, so we'll call this another honorary "Monday Nun Day" post.)  If you missed them, it's no problem – you can listen to them now online!

Saturday evening , Jennifer Rivera (Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking) performed on Public Radio International's A Prairie Home Companion. Last week saw the release of her EP album The Garrison Keillor Songs, five songs written by the author and host. Jennifer was featured in sketches throughout the evening, introduced as coming directly from Central City to be on the show. She was serenaded by Keillor with a new song that included her name in it, and performed Handel's "Ombra mai fù" and Cherubina's aria "Non, so più cosa son" from The Marriage of Figaro. (While Central City Opera performs Figaro this summer, Rivera is not in that particular cast.) In addition to participating in several sketches, Jennifer sang "Unification," a song with lyrics written by Keillor, set to music by Robert Aldridge (from the previously-mentioned album). Listen to the entire June 21 A Prairie Home Companion broadcast online now.

This weekend, another public radio program, This American Life, featured the talents of Jeanine De Bique (Sister Rose, Dead Man Walking) during a special musical radio drama episode. As De Bique described it on her Facebook page, her comedic debut was a " broadcast of the true story 'Locked in closet' by my friend Carin Gilfry. I play the Jamaican maid that rescues her! There are elves, german tourists, a bored receptionist and a surprise guest Composer! Watch the trailer!"

THIS AMERICAN LIFE: LIVE AT BAM - Trailer from This American Life on Vimeo.

The New York Times review of the episode included the following description:
Brooklyn Academy of Music’s opera house must have hosted plenty of Valkyries in its time. But Jeanine De Bique is almost certainly the first to stride onstage accessorized with a broom and dishwashing gloves, singing about how much she hates her job. Her angry soprano aria was among the many blissful surprises of “The Radio Drama Episode” — Saturday night’s embraceable live performance for the public-radio show “This American Life” that devoted itself to documentary dramas of true stories.
You can now stream the entire June 20 radio drama episode of This American Life online, with a special video option available as well for a small fee.

Catch both of these talented women in Dead Man Walking at the Central City Opera House July 5 to 25, 2014. Tune in to Colorado Public Radio this coming weekend as well, for the live broadcast of The Marriage of Figaro opening night, Saturday, June 28th.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Central City Celebrates Annual Madam Lou Bunch Day

Central City is lovably quirky.

It’s known simultaneously for its singing Opera House and dinging casinos. Its elevation is nearly 8,500 feet, placing it among the highest cities in the country. And once a year it’s host to dames on beds being pushed around by townsfolk in drag.

Interns McEntee, Abernathy and Ting posing in costume
in the Opera Garden before the Madam Lou Bunch parade commenced
Madam Lou Bunch Day is arguably Central City’s most unique event. Bunch was a notorious prostitute in the 1880s who allegedly grew too wide to physically leave her brothel’s brass bed. To annually commemorate one of Central City’s most colorful characters, locals dress up in costumes ranging from stuffy Victorian to saucy barmaid. Additionally, many compete in the Bed Races where a pair of boys push ladies-on-beds-on-wheels up and down Main Street. The teams often dress in a costumed theme, with prizes for the fastest teams and slickest costumes.

Ladies of Central City dress up as brothel women
for Madam Lou Bunch Day and pose on the bed that was used in the races
Eight teams competed in the Bed Races this year, all representing local businesses from Century Casino to Central City Opera. This year three CCO interns (cross-)dressed as characters from the upcoming three shows in the 2014 Festival. Props Intern Austin Abernathy owned the garconne look with his flappers dress for The Marriage of Figaro, which will be set in the 1920s. Assistant House Manager Dahlia Ting donned prison garb (and a myriad of tattoos) to showcase Dead Man Walking, and Marketing/Public Relations Assistant Billy McEntee dressed as a nun for The Sound of Music.

Abernathy pushes McEntee and Ting uphill during the back nine of the Bed Races
While these dynamic garments sadly did not merit the Best Costumes award, the three youngsters did take home the Maiden Voyage ribbon for their first time competing. The speedy workers at Johnny Z's Casino, the reigning champions, came in first place and won $300. Nevertheless, the CCO racers succeeded in advertising their upcoming productions and entertaining townsfolk with their enthusiasm, irreverent costumes and loopy steering.

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Honorary" Monday Nun Day Post: Jennifer Rivera's EP is released tomorrow and performed on radio this weekend

For today's Monday Nun Day posting, we're giving a shoutout to Jennifer Rivera who plays a nun this summer, portraying Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking.

Tomorrow is the release date for Jennifer's EP album The Garrison Keillor Songs, five songs written by the author who hosts A Prairie Home Companion on public radio. The music was composed by Grammy Award Winner Robert Aldridge.
The album will only be released digitally; check out The Garrison Keillor Songs on iTunes.

Tune in this weekend to A Prairie Home Companion, as Rivera will be singing the songs live from Ravinia. The show is broadcast Saturday from 4 to 6 pm (Mountain) in the Denver area on Colorado Public Radio, and again on Sunday from 10 am to Noon.

You can also read Jennifer's blog about performing three times on A Prairie Home Companion, or listen to the archived episodes online from April 16, 2005December 24, 2005; and December 28, 2008.

Dead Man Walking performs in Central City from July 5 to 25. The opera is based on Sister Helen Prejean's autobiography of the same name.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Susan Kulkarni hops across the pond to design The Marriage of Figaro

A sneak peek of The Marriage of Figaro costumes hanging in Central City Opera's Cast House dressing rooms with designer Susan Kulkarni
Susan Kulkarni flutters around the Opera House's second floor. She checks in on actors' fittings, holds design conversations with the wigs and makeup supervisor, and scoots costume pieces left and right on one of the floor's numerous z-racks. Always abuzz with work, Kulkarni continually remains tranquil and pleases others with her chirpy voice. She may be from England, but Kulkarni is making her nest in Colorado as The Marriage of Figaro's costume designer, the first show in Central City Opera's 2014 Festival.

Not only is it her first time living in the United States, but it's also the first time she's costume designing a major full-length opera. But don't let all the firsts fool you; Kulkarni is a seasoned and versatile designer. Her website boasts an impressive amount of experience in theatre, dance, film, and television for such a fresh-faced artist. Opera is just the next project on Kulkarni's list of theatrical mediums to conquer. 

Costume Designer Susan Kulkarni
Does this maid's outfit remind you of any popular television show? Stay tuned!
"It's a funny thing because a lady at the National [Theatre in London] recommended me to [director Alessandro Talevi]," she said. "It turned out when he wrote my number in his phone that we actually had worked together eleven years ago on a tiny little opera, so we did know each other but in passing. He said, 'Oh, Susan, great!'" 

Kulkarni has designed upwards of 60 costumes for The Marriage of Figaro, opening on June 28 at the Central City Opera House. Costume designers often yearn to create each dress, undergarment, and accessory from scratch in order to align a unified composition. More often, however, time and money get in the way. "It always comes down to budget," Kulkarni said. "It can cost $1,000 just to make a jacket. It's an expensive business." Instead of building each piece, designers frequently borrow costumes from other companies and then rework them. Luckily for Kulkarni (and Central City Opera), many of this show's costumes will be borrowed from the hit British television show Downton Abbey

Kulkarni's costume sketch for Susannah in Act I, The Marriage of Figaro

Costume sketch of the Count
Kulkarni served as an assistant costume designer during season two and was able to pull some strings to borrow a few costumes. Opera patrons will have to play a bit of "Where's Waldo" while watching The Marriage of Figaro to try and spy the original pieces. Though she calls her connection to Downton Abbey "slightly nepotistic," Kulkarni simply found work as many people do in the arts: with equal doses of diligence and moxie. "I had a contact who knew the costume designer there, and I set myself up with her and said, 'Hello!'"  

Though she has taken on other projects since Downton Abbey, Kulkarni remains proud of the show's enduring success even here in the States. "In England, if you say [Downton Abbey] everyone knows what it is, and it feels like it's the same here. [Americans] appreciate period dramas; it's great that it's been embraced." Fortunately, The Marriage of Figaro is another period piece that will flaunt Kulkarni's detailed design. Talevi has decided to set the show in 1920s antebellum Spain. This allows Kulkarni to dabble with glitzy flapper costumes and unadorned servant ones alike, reflecting a time in Spain when some embraced bobbed hair and lower waistlines while others grasped onto turn-of-the-century traditions.
Costume sketch of the Countess
Designing dozens of costumes for The Marriage of Figaro has certainly kept Kulkarni busy, but she still manages to enjoy the sights of Central City during her stay here. "It's really refreshing to just leave your home and go for a hike in the mountains. I'm really enjoying it," she smiled. Given the staggering altitude on her morning hikes, Kulkarni is learning firsthand the necessity of breath control in opera. "We're using a lot of stiff collars, so during fittings we've ascertained if we're going to choke the singers to death," she joked. "But designing for opera is an absolute delight because you have a team of people who really enjoy what they're doing; there's a lot of passion here."

Want more of the inside scoop? Join us for Opera Inside Out, Tuesday, June 17th in Central City. Tickets are just $10 and include a performance by our Ensemble Artists as well as a behind-the-scenes tour. The Marriage of Figaro runs June 28 to July 26.

Monday, June 9, 2014

MONDAY NUN DAY: How Sister Helen Prejean Unwinds

It's time for another "Monday Nun Day" posting, and we just had to share this fun video posted recently on Sister Helen Prejean's Twitter feed.

When asked what she liked to do just for herself....would you believe the answer involved ZOMBIES???

Sister Helen Prejean's autobiography Dead Man Walking was the inspiration for the opera of the same name, written by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally. See Central City Opera's production of Dead Man Walking July 5 to 25, 2014. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Central City blooms on annual Planting Day

Nancy Parker has attended nearly every Planting Day since 1984. Despite a torrid morning in Central City on June 4, Parker dexterously used her trowel to plant some fuchsia petunias in the Opera Garden. "Some years it rains, some years it's cold," Parker stated. "I ask my friends to join me for Planting Day. They say, 'You're still doing that? Are you crazy?' That's why we need the younger people to help us." This year, Parker's prayers were answered.

Parker, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Central City Opera, was joined by twenty-something volunteers, old and young alike, at this year's annual Planting Day. These helpers were comprised of the usual CCO Guild members, as well as this year's teenaged Flower Girls (who will be featured in the June 28 Yellow Rose Ball) and other volunteers who assisted with planting dozens of flowers around the Opera House.
Some of this year's Planting Day volunteers pause for a picture in the Opera Garden.
"These people are an amazing, multigenerational group," said Christina Dinegar, President of the CCO Guild. "They're motivated, loyal, and friendly. You make really good friends from 80 to 17."

Dinegar's daughter Sarah, one of the upcoming Flower Girls, is among the younger crowd this year. "I haven't been to the Opera [House] in a while, but it's nice to come out here and help. I'm looking forward to returning in a few weeks."

As president, Dinegar oversees nearly 250 Guild members, and the group is responsible for acquiring the gardening supplies, flowers (from Novacek Greenhouse in Golden and Center Greenhouse in Denver), lunch, and, of course, the volunteers. This year, there were also a handful of men helping out. One of them was Geoffrey Hughes, who has returned home between architectural projects in Beijing. Hughes volunteered with his mother Julie, another Guild member. "It's a lot of fun," he said. "My main job is moderate to heavy lifting, and to take orders," which pleased his proud mother.

While it could be considered an arduous event, Julie Hughes certainly knew how to liven it up - this was her sixteenth year volunteering at Plant Day. Hughes shared stories about Geoffrey's time in Lebanon and cracked jokes with the other volunteers. "This is one of the things that is hard to give up," she said. Hughes has also partook in other volunteering events that the CCO Guild manages, such as setting up the 33 homes in the Central City Opera House Association in April and then cleaning them come August.

Susan Stiff, another Guild member, has volunteered in another capacity. "Back when performers would come through Denver, we would host people," she remembered fondly. "They stayed in our basement. We called them our 'basement boys,'" she said with a chuckle. "Gene Scheer [Cap'n Andy, Show Boat, and Librettist, Three Decembers] was one of our 'basement boys.' He's become a lifelong friend; he sang at my husband's funeral."

Stiff looks forward to Planting Day each year almost as much as she looks forward to opening night. Taking off her gardening gloves for just a moment, she paused and marveled at all of the volunteers' work. "You look at all these flowers, which will be hailed on before June 28, but they'll still be here then and you can say, 'We did that.'"
Thank you to all of our volunteers for making the Opera Gardens look beautiful!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Central City Opera Showcases Young Artists with “Death by Aria”

Editor's Note: Here's our first blog post for the 2014 Festival from Marketing/Public Relations Assistant Billy McEntee. You'll be seeing many blogs from Billy "on the Hill" over the next few months. 

“Death by Aria.” Truly, it’s not so different from death by chocolate. It’s a bit of a marathon, but ultimately both are savory and filling. Central City Opera kicked off its 2014 Festival with this unique event that successfully showcased the talented performers of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program under the direction of Michael Ehrman. These performers will be seen and heard at the Opera House and the Denver Performing Arts Complex later this summer, giving audience members a promising forecast of what’s to come.
Studio Artist Michael Kuhn closes Act I with an aria from The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten with Michael Baitzer at the piano during Central City Opera’s “Death by Aria”
Gilman Hall, with its rich acoustics yet intimate setting, played host to the 31 Studio Artists and Apprentice Artists, all of whom comprise the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program and perform in the chorus or in bit roles for Central City Opera’s 2014 Festival. These well-dressed and well-rehearsed singers each performed an aria of choice (all accompanied by the skilled and tireless Michael Baitzer). Opera selections were as diverse as the mishmash of chairs in Gilman Hall. The pieces ranged from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) to Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge while the audience sat in seats from similarly varying time periods – tubular Thonet chairs meshed with pastel painted wooden ones. The haphazard mix of songs and setting highlights one of Central City Opera’s strengths: creating a diverse composition of artists and performances.

Despite only a handful of English pieces, the “Death by Aria” singers masterfully communicated sentiments of rage, longing and bliss in their foreign songs. Isaac Bray justly received a rousing ovation for his Handel aria in which he sang fleeting grace notes with exquisite clarity. Following Bray, Karina Brazas crafted a wonderful marriage of shyness and yearning in her aria from Donizetti’s L'eliser d'amore (The Elixir of Love). These changes in character were perfectly mirrored in Brazas’ morphing dynamics. Shortly after, Evan L. Johnson showed off his high notes with his piece from Gounod’s Faust. Johnson’s suave voice coasted comfortably on Gounod’s melody.

While “Death by Aria” let audience members hear individual singers outside of their main duty as chorus performers, the singers certainly showed little pressure to impress as they performed solo for each other. In fact, there was more camaraderie than competition in Gilman Hall. As a singer exited after his bow another made his way to the stage, patting his peer on the back. When Chanáe Curtis accidentally performed during Tim Bruno's slot, he patiently waited his turn and then sarcastically quipped, “I’ve got my eye on you, Chanáe” before performing his piece.

Toward the end of Act I, Maya Kherani elicited laughter with her selection from Handel’s Alcina. Kherani shined with her elongated and mellifluous ah’s during which she easily shifted from timid to coquettish. In Act II, Kelsey Park used diction as her weapon of choice for her Mozart aria. She effectively maintained her articulation while still playing a flustered, exasperated character.

With their unwavering talent and professionalism, these young performers certainly set the bar high for the Principal Artists who play leading roles. The nearly two-and-a-half hours of performances certainly satiated the audience’s musical appetite, but most importantly “Death by Aria” gave a taste of how versatile these 31 young artists are. The audience left Gilman Hall happily craving more, which may have not been the case with a chocolate buffet.

Want to see more of Central City Opera's talented young singers? In addition to our mainstage productions, check out Short Works or Lunch & A Song. They're also featured in our sold-out production Trouble in Tahiti.