Valerie Hamlin, CCO Publicist/Associate Director
September 08, 2010


Puccini has never had it so good!...There may never be another ‘Butterfly’ like it.” 

- Wes Blomster, Boulder Daily Camera, in reference to Central City Opera’s Madama Butterfly


“There’s nothing not to like about Central City Opera’s first-ever production of Jacques Offenbach’s ‘Orpheus in the Underworld…This two-hour romp is just silly, bawdy fun. By all rights, it should be the company’s runaway hit of the summer.” -Kyle MacMillan, The Denver Post


Even for the most devoted fans, sitting through three operas within 24 hours is an overload. Yet, in the case of the Central City Opera’s 2010 Summer Festival, it’s more like being swept away into a magical spell one wishes never to be released from.” – David Sckolnik, Colorado Springs Gazette


Denver, Colo. - Central City Opera (CCO) closed its 2010 Festival on Aug. 8 with wide praise for all three productions. Despite the continuing difficult economic climate, ticket revenue remained strong for this year’s Festival with a total of $824,973 in sales, representing a combined rate of 74% audience capacity for the entire festival. After a shortened season in 2009, the company staged its traditional six week, three show season in 2010 with 35 performances. Total paid tickets for this year were up 10% from 2009. The Festival’s three shows had audience capacities of 82% for Madama Butterfly, 83% for Orpheus in the Underworld, and 52% for Three Decembers. Audiences attended from across the country and around the world, including attendees from Spain, Israel, Switzerland, Canada and the United Kingdom.  

By continuing to not compromise artistic quality in the face of national economic conditions, the 2010 Summer Festival proved to be another landmark season for the company and built upon its reputation as a leader among summer festivals.  “In a time when the economy remains in decline and overall morale is low, it is more important than ever that we offer patrons a transcending escape. By remaining committed to our artistic vision and presenting three diverse productions from classic to contemporary, I am proud that we were once again able to offer a truly one-of-a-kind musical experience,” states General/Artistic Director Pelham G. Pearce.

In a year marked by significant artistic milestones, CCO presented Three Decembers, the regional premiere of its first opera by American composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, who were both in attendance for opening night this summer. Central City Opera’s 2010 presentation was the first new production of the work since its world premiere in 2008. Hailed as “a triumph for Central City,” by Wes Blomster for Opera Today and a wide a critical success, a Central City Opera patron and one of the company’s 1,332 Facebook “Fans,” Bonnie wrote,Just saw Three Decembers and real magic happened on stage today!...Congratulations Joyce, Emily and Keith and everyone else involved! It was one of the most moving and exciting operas I have seen anywhere!”

This year’s festival also brought the first staging by the company of Jacques Offenbach’s operetta with the famous “Can-can” music, Orpheus in the Underworld. The new production was touted by Claudia Carbone of Examiner.com as “a hilarious two hours of fun. It’s one of those performances you should see a second time so you don’t miss any of the comedic insinuations. Be sure to see this one, at least once!”

Four internationally renowned artists made their Central City Opera debuts in 2010. Lauded by Sabine Kortals of the Denver Post, Korean soprano Yunah Lee “delivered a strong, emotionally resonant performance as Japanese geisha Cio- Cio-San” in this summer’s Madama Butterfly. “As Jupiter, Matthew Worth delivers a splendid portrayal,” commented David Marlowe of Prime Time for Seniors on the baritone’s debut. “His vocal work is some of the most impressive in the show.” “The settings almost steal the show…,” lauded Bob Bows of Coloradodrama.com for the colorful designs for Orpheus by debuting Set Designer Arnulfo Maldonado. Also making his debut as Charlie in the company’s regional premiere of Three Decembers this summer was “stand-out baritone,” Keith Phares. “He possesses a handsome, versatile voice, which ranges easily from booming resonance to hushed poignancy,” commented Kyle MacMillan of the Denver PostThree Decembers also celebrated veteran mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle’s 40th anniversary as a professional singer.    

As part of the Festival’s education and community offerings, CCO presented two annual programs focused on introducing children and youth to the world of opera. The Nina Odescalchi Kelly Family Matinees offered community audiences the opportunity to see full-length productions of Madama Butterfly and Orpheus in the Underworld. More popular than ever this year with their economical ticket prices of just $15 for students and $20 for adults, the performances sold at 150% of projections. The matinees were once again performed by members of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program and included comments on what to look for before each act and a meet-and-greet with the young artists after the show. The Summer Performing Arts Intensive, a partnership with the Colorado Springs Conservatory, offered 14 high school students the opportunity to participate in two weeks of immersion studies in music, theater, composition and related disciplines. Chosen by audition, students came from as far away as New York to participate. The program culminated in two performances of scenes from drama, musical theater and opera based on the theme, “Through a Child’s Eyes,” plus a short opera composed by the student participants focusing on the life of Colorado native and Tony Award namesake Antoinette Perry.

As a component of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, 14 scholarships were awarded to exemplary members at the Festival’s closing ceremonies on Aug. 8. The young artists are selected based on criteria including the artistic quality of performances given during the Festival, a demonstration of a strong work ethic during training activities and career potential as a performing artist. Award winners were congratulated by General/Artistic Director Pelham G. Pearce, Artistic Director Emeritus John Moriarty, and Board Chairman, Lanny Martin. Recipients for 2010 are: Kelly Hill – McGlone Award; Scott Johnson –Shoshana Foundation Award; Samus Haddad – Apprentice Artist Award; Daniel Anderson – Studio Artist Award; Vince Vincent – Iris Henwood Richards Award; Kaitlyn Costello – In Memory of Stuart Anderson Award; Audra Gardner In Memory of Ross L. Tyler Award; Bridgette Gan – Young Artist Award;  Philippe Pierce – E. Atwill Gilman Award; Clayton Hilley – Ginney and John Starkey Young Artist Award;  Alexandra Loutsion – John Moriarty Award; Jesse Enderle – Dorsey Family Award; John Irvin – David R. Gloss Award; and Thomas Getty – Adi Bishop Award, an award given for the second year in honor of an exemplary company member. Mr. Getty has served for several years as a musical coach, creator and operator of the supertitles, and music director for many Festival Extras.

Central City Opera House Association 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 an 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 over 30 other Victorian-era properties. For more information or to purchase tickets to the Central City Opera, visit www.centralcityopera.org or call 303-292-6700.