Denver, Colo. (June 10, 2013)- For its second 2013 Festival offering, Central City Opera (CCO) brings the regional premiere of Ned Rorem’s contemporary opera based on the classic play, Our Town, to the stage for nine performances, opening July 6, with performances continuing through July 28. Our Town will be a new production performed in English.
Known as a quintessential American play, Our Town tells the story of the ordinary and extraordinary events in the lives of those in Grover’s Corners, a small New Hampshire town in 1901. A story that delves into three critical components of the human experience – daily life, love/marriage and death/loss – Thornton Wilder won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work in 1938.
Ned Rorem, an award-winning composer, worked with librettist J.D. McClatchy to transform Thornton Wilder’s play into an opera that premiered in 2006 at Lake George Opera (now Opera Saratoga) in New York. States the New York Times, Our Town is “an intimate chamber opera to match the play’s spareness…Rorem’s music is accessible, singable, and full of integrity.”
Central City Days: An Extraordinary Celebration of Our Town
July 6 and July 14, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., Central City
A progressive party before opening night of Our Town on July 6 and following the 2:30 p.m. matinee performance on July 14, attendees can enjoy the third annual Central City Days. Loosely based on the three acts of Our Town, the festive event progresses from a “country fair” party on the scenic grounds of the historic McFarlane House with live music, food and beer to a vintage mock wedding reception in the Teller House’s opulent Governor’s Parlor complete with sweets, wine, champagne and live operatic singing. The party and the experience conclude with a surprise finale in the Opera House Gardens. Tickets are $75 for the Central City Days Progressive Party and Our Town performance, or $40 for the Progressive Party only. Visit www.centralcityopera.org/ccdays or call the Box Office at 303.292.6700 for tickets or more information.
Christopher Zemliauskas returns to CCO to conduct Our Town after conducting Oklahoma! in 2012, Carmen and Amadigi di Gaula in 2011, and A Little Night Music in 2009. Currently the Assistant Musical Director of the Opera Program at CU Boulder, Mr. Zemliauskas has been the Associate Conductor and Chorus Master for Central City Opera for productions including Carmen, West Side Story, Susannah, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, and Massenet’s Cendrillon. He has also been on the music staff with Minnesota Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera Colorado, and Indianapolis Opera.
Praised by the New York Times as “nimble of voice, body and spirit,” soprano Anna Christy continues to impress audiences with an extraordinary blend of sparkling voice, powerful stage presence and innate musicality. She returns to CCO to perform the title role of Emily Webb, following her past CCO roles as Olympia in 2004’s Les contes d’Hoffmann and Tytania in 2002’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Says Christy, “Emily offers me a breadth and depth of characterization that I don’t often get to portray, and I get to use music and the visceral experience of the human singing voice to elevate her emotions. I’m most looking forward to experiencing her journey, and sharing the stage with some of the best singing actors I know.”
Ms. Christy made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Papagena in Die Zauberflöte in 2005, and two more debuts followed that year, with appearances as Muffin in the world premiere of William Bolcom’s A Wedding at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Zemire in Zemire et Azor. In 2006, Ms. Christy appeared with the Metropolitan Opera as Hortense in the world premiere production of An American Tragedy, and returned later in the season with performances of Papagena in Die Zauberflöte. Other important past engagements include her San Francisco debut as Angel More in The Mother of us All; Marzelline in a concert version Fidelio with the San Francisco Symphony; Zerlina in Don Giovanni with the Los Angeles Opera; Mrs. Nordstrom in A Little Night Music and Annabelle in The Glass Blowers with New York City Opera; and her Santa Fe Opera debut as Jiang Ching in the world premiere of Madame Mao. Ms. Christy is the recipient of a 2005 Martin E. Segal Award, the 2004 ARIA award, a 2002 Sullivan Foundation Grant, and the 2000 Shouse Debut Artist Award from Wolf Trap Opera, among others. Recent performances include Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare with the English National Opera, Lisette in La Rondine with the Metropolitan Opera, and the title role of Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor with the Canadian Opera Company.
Acclaimed for his versatility in both opera and concert, tenor William Ferguson*makes his CCO debut performing the role of the endearing George Gibbs. Mr. Ferguson made his debut with the Santa Fe Opera in 2006 as Caliban in the North American premiere of Thomas Adès’ The Tempest. The same year, Ferguson joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera where he has performed Beppe in I Pagliacci as well as roles in Le nozze di Figaro and The Magic Flute (under the baton of James Levine). A regular artist at The New York City Opera, his performances have included the title role in Candide, Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, the Funeral Director in A Quiet Place, and twice as Hérisson de Porc-Épic in L’Étoile, among many others. Additional recent credits include the Electrician in Powder Her Face with New York City Opera, the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia with the Opera Memphis, and Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro with Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Colorado native, tenor Vale Rideout, returns to CCO as narrator and commentating guide through Grover’s Corners, Stage Manager. Mr. Rideout performed the role of George Gibbs in the professional premiere of Rorem’s Our Town at Lake George Opera in 2006. His other CCO credits include acclaimed performances as Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw (2012), Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor (2009), Sam in Susannah and the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia in 2008, and the Prince in the 2007 production of Cendrillon. A former CCO Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist, Mr. Rideout has since performed throughout the United States and in Europe and will make his debut this season with the New York Philharmonic performing Britten’s War Requiem. Most recently, Mr. Rideout won a 2011 Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Classical, for Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera Company’s production of Elmer Gantry in which he sang the role of Frank Shallard.
Singing her brilliant lyric repertoire all over Europe and North America in a career spanning over 30 years, soprano Sally Wolf returns to CCO to perform the role of Emily’s mother, Mrs. Webb. In addition to her role as Donna Anna in CCO’s 2006 production of Don Giovanni, Ms. Wolf has received critical acclaim for her portrayals of Mimi in La bohème, Violetta in La Traviata, and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, and has performed with many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera, London’s Royal Opera Covent Garden, Vienna Staatsoper, The Salzburg Festival, San Francisco Opera, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Grand Théâtre du Genève, Monte Carlo Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera, Dallas Opera, Los Angeles Opera, New York City Opera, to name a few. Recent credits include playing the role of Alice in Falstaff and Berta in Barber of Seville with the Seattle Opera, and First Lady in Die Zauberflöte with Austin Opera. Ms. Wolf is currently on the voice faculty of Westminster Choir College/Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey where she has taught since 2001. With a “deep, toffee-smooth voice and convincing interpretive abilities” (New York Times), bass Kevin Langan returns to CCO to sing the role of George’s father and town doctor, Dr. Gibbs, following his previous CCO roles as Commendatore in 2006’s Don Giovanni and Seneca in L’Incoronazione di Poppea. With a career spanning 35 years and 1,300 performances, recent credits include Friar Laurence in Opera Colorado’s Romeo and Juliet; Colline in La bohème and Basilio in The Barber of Seville with the Metropolitan Opera; Leporello in Don Giovanni with both New York City Opera and Santa Fe Opera; Timur in Turandot with San Francisco Opera, Dallas Opera, and Santa Fe Opera; and many others.
Opera singers Kevin Langan and Sally Wolf will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary in Central City this July as they perform together in CCO’s production of Our Town. When asked to share their secret for wedded bliss, Langan says, “We have always respected each other’s gifts and vocal talents, and have never imposed on the other to make any sacrifices on our careers even though it meant we often were separated for extended periods of time. We always check our egos at the door when we are together and never allow any jealousies over our careers to invade our relationship, both personal and professional.” Adds Wolf, “I am still awed by his talent, discipline and perfectionism! With respect to jealousies, how can you be jealous of someone you love and respect especially when you will never compete for the same roles/jobs?”
Baritone John Hancock returns to CCO as Emily’s father, Mr. Webb, following his performance as John Buchanan in CCO’s 2002 Summer and Smoke. Acclaimed for his refined vocalism and theatrical versatility, Mr. Hancock has appeared regularly with Metropolitan Opera, along with the San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Carnegie Hall, Glimmerglass Opera, and many others. A graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center, he was a winner of the Richard F. Gold Grant presented by the Shoshana Foundation, numerous grants and prizes from the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the Loren L. Zachary Society and the Sullivan Foundation. His recent credits include Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Portland Opera, the title role of Kepler in Kepler with the Spoleto Festival USA, and Falstaff in Falstaff with Angers Nantes Opera. Acclaimed by the Seattle Times for her “lustrous and expressive voice” in her performance as Adalgisa in Norma, mezzo-soprano Phyllis Pancella returns to CCO as George’s mother, Mrs. Gibbs, after her lauded appearances as Rinaldo in 2009’s Rinaldo, Lucretia in 2008’s The Rape of Lucretia and her CCO debut as Nerone in 2006’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea. Renowned for her artistic versatility and musicianship, Ms. Pancella has an extensive repertoire ranging from Baroque to Contemporary. Recent credits include Despina in Così fan tutte with the Boston Lyric Opera, and Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas with the Music of the Baroque. She also recently performed as a Soloist in Bach Cantatas with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Rounding out the remainder of the cast are members of CCO’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program including: Claire Shackleton as Mrs. Soames; Robert Murphy as Joe Crowell; Alexander Elliott as Frank; Isaac Bray as Sam; Leah Bobbey as the Lady in the Balcony; Jason Ryan as the Man in the Audience; and Kevin Newell as Simon Stimson.
The director of last summer’s Oklahoma! and 2011’s three one-acts, Ken Cazan returns to CCO to direct Our Town following other recent credits with the company including 2010’s Three Decembers, A Little Night Music in 2009 and the sold-out West Side Story in 2008. Chair of Vocal Arts and Opera, Resident Stage Director and Associate Professor for the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, Mr. Cazan is one of America’s most sought-after directors, having staged more than 100 productions for more than 40 opera companies. Alan E. Muraoka returns to CCO as the Scenic Designer for Our Town following his 2012 debut for Oklahoma! In his twenty-year career, Mr. Muraoka has designed for theatre, opera, television, and film, where he has been up for two Emmy nominations and three Art Director’s Guild Award nominations as a production designer and art director. Mr. Muraoka’s opera credits include critically acclaimed productions such as Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus and Euridice, an operatic adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, and the American premiere of Antonio Vivaldi’s Motezuma. Recent credits include The Tempest and Dialogues of the Carmelites for USC Opera, and The Fall of the House of Usher for Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater. Hailed for her richly evocative and character-enhancing period costumes, Marcy Froelich returns to CCO as Costume Designer for Our Town, following her 2012 debut for Oklahoma! Recent credits include the 2012 Miss America Pageant, Hello my Baby with the Rubicon Theater, and 39 Steps with the Ensemble Theatre Company. David Martin Jacques returns this summer for his 13th festival as Resident Lighting Designer. He has been lauded for his design of more than 300 theatre, opera, television, dance and special event productions. The Wig/Makeup Designer is Dave Bova, who made his CCO debut in 2012. Mr. Bova’s recent work has included Cabaret and Death of a Salesman with The Dallas Theater Center, Sweeney Todd with Barrington Stage, and Annie Get Your Gun with the Ravinia Festival.
Central City Opera 2013 Festival – Tickets on Sale Now!
Central City Opera House – June 29 to July 28
The Barber of Seville opens the Festival in Central City on June 29 and runs through July 27. Ned Rorem’s operatic adaptation of Our Town is the second offering opening July 6 and running at the Opera House through July 28.
Central City Opera Comes to Denver’s Buell Theatre – August 6 to 11
Central City Opera comes to Denver for seven consecutive performances of Kern and Hammerstein II’s Broadway classic musical, Show Boat at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex from Tuesday, Aug. 6 to Sunday, Aug. 11.
In addition to its slate of operas for 2013, CCO will continue to present innovative initiatives that will engage a broader audience with exciting enhancements to the Festival experience. Single show tickets start at $20 with subscriptions for two or more shows starting at $32. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.centralcityopera.org or call 303-292-6700.
Celebrating its 81st year, Central City Opera is the nation’s fifth-oldest opera company, located just 35 miles west of Denver in one of Colorado’s official National Landmark Historic Districts. The company continues to present artistically excellent professional opera in its annual summer festival; to offer career-entry training to young singers; to produce education and community service programs; and to preserve and maintain the Opera House and 30 other Victorian-era properties.
(Set, costume designs, and headshots available upon request.)