Central City Opera Presents its First Handel Opera, Rinaldo, July 11 to Aug. 1
June 22, 2009

Central City Opera Presents its First Handel Opera, Rinaldo, July 11 to Aug. 1

Denver , Colo.Rinaldo, an epic love story set during the First Crusade, will be the final offering of Central City Opera’s (CCO) 2009 Summer Festival. The company’s first presentation of an opera by Georg Friedrich Handel, this new production will open on July 11 and continue through Aug. 1 at the Central City Opera House in Central City, Colo. The piece will be performed in its original Italian with English supertitles.

Set during the time period of the First Crusade (1096-1099), Rinaldo follows the love story of the daughter of Christian Captain Goffredo, Almirena, and the knight, Rinaldo. The couple is torn apart by Armida, an enchantress and lover of Saracen King Argante. To be reunited, the couple must overcome magical trials and battles. The Italian libretto, written by Giacomo Rossi, is based on episodes of Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberate (“Jerusalem Delivered”) first published in 1581. The first Italian opera composed specifically for the London stage, Rinaldo premiered at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket in 1711. A great success, the piece appealed to many Baroque artists due to its inclusion of two castrati in the title role of Rinaldo and the role of Almirena’s uncle, Eustazio. CCO’s Rinaldo Conductor Matthew Halls observes, "These were fiery coloratura roles. Those chaps had a huge range, and their lung capacity must have been equally enormous." Today, these roles are now performed by countertenors or mezzo-sopranos.

Like Handel’s other operas, Rinaldo was popular during the Baroque period, but was rarely performed for the following 200 years due to the changing style and tastes in composition. During the latter part of the 20 th century, a resurgence of Baroque opera performances occurred and Rinaldo gradually became a part of the standard operatic repertoire. General/Artistic Director Pat Pearce shares, “In 1984 I saw the Metropolitan Opera presentation of Rinaldo, its first Handel offering. The production featured acclaimed mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne, and was directed by legendary stage director, Frank Corsaro. It left me extremely inspired and I am excited to be able to share this production with our opera community. The intimate setting of the Central City Opera House is perfect for this piece. “

Production Team
*=Central City Opera Debut
A Central City Opera veteran, Marc Astafan returns to direct Rinaldo, after his most recent successes in 2007’s Cendrillon and 2006’s Don Giovanni. Commenting on what sparked his interest in this opera, Mr. Astafan states, “Initially it was the location. It’s interesting how timely these pieces can be. It’s about Western Christians going into the Middle East and trying to convert them. In a sense, you want to say, ‘Stay true to your faith and stay true to your culture,’ but that’s not how it’s written. As the director, it’s my job to tell that story.” Mr. Astafan’s recent credits include The Rape of Lucretia with Julliard Opera Theater, Romeo et Juliette with Syracuse Opera and Tosca with Virginia Opera. After accepting the offer to return to CCO as stage director for Rinaldo, Mr. Astafan comments that “I immediately called Caleb Wertenbaker to design because I knew that he would know how to help me bring this story to life.” A frequent collaborator with Mr. Astafan, Caleb Wertenbaker returns as scenic designer for Rinaldo after his work on 2007’s Cendrillon. Recent credits for Mr. Wertenbaker include Le Nozze di Figaro at New England Conservatory, Dust at West Side Theatre in New York City and Amistad at Spoleto Festival USA. Set in the Middle East at the time of the First Crusade, his design for this new production features such elements as a medieval map scrim, a rolling sea and the Sorcerer’s mysterious cave.

Sara Jean Tosetti , who designed the “eye-catching styles” for 2007’s Cendrillon that were labeled a “coup de theatre” by the Rocky Mountain News, returns to design the costumes which range from opulent to rough and multi-dimensional. Mr. Astafan adds, “I believe the costumes will be the star of the show. A piece like this is where she (Tosetti) really excels. She can create a costume based on character and period and understands what it takes to make the costumes come alive on stage.” Ms. Tosetti’s recent credits include Manuscript and The Exonerated at the Darryl Roth Theatre and Artifice with Complexions, Inc. David Martin Jacques, 2009 Resident Lighting Designer, has served in this role for the company in previous years from 2007-2008 and 2000-2005. Commenting on Jacques’ history with the company, Pat Pearce shares, “I have watched Jacques create magic on stage time and time again. Our goal was to create a very diaphanous visual quality to this production and Jacques’ lighting will enhance and allow the audience to see this texture.” Recent lighting credits include Lulu with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Peter Grimes with Teatro San Carlo. The resident wig/makeup designer for the 2009 Summer Festival is Alison Mizerski, who returns for her fifth summer in residence with Central City Opera after her recent work with Opera Cleveland and Nevada Opera.

Performing Artists
*=Central City Opera Debut
British conductor Matthew Halls* makes his Central City Opera debut with Rinaldo. Recently, Mr. Halls assumed the position of Artistic Director for the newly formed Retrospect Ensemble based in the UK. Following their successful May 2009 inaugural performance at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, the Ensemble already boasts a new annual season at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in London, an appearance at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, and tours to Korea, Israel, Portugal and Switzerland. As the former Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Baroque ensemble, The King’s Consort, Mr. Halls has established a reputation as one of the leading performers and conductors of the younger generation of Baroque musicians. Mezzo-soprano Phyllis Pancella returns as Rinaldo after her acclaimed appearances as Lucretia in last summer’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 Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito with Opera Boston and Mrs. Noye in Britten’s Noye’s Fludde with Los Angeles Opera. Countertenor David Walker returns as the captain of the Crusade force, Goffredo, after his role as Ottone in 2006’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea and Oberon in 2002’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Opposite Ms. Pancella’s Dejanira, Mr. Walker performed the role of Lichas in Music of Baroque’s recent production of Handel’s Hercules under the leading Baroque conductor, Jane Glover. Other recent credits include Raphael in the North American premiere of Tobias and the Angel with Opera Vivente in Maryland and the title role in Elephant Man in its Paris premiere.

Kathleen Kim* , touted as a “tiny dynamo” who “nailed her stratospheric coloratura aria with a precise, penetrating soprano” by John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune, makes her debut with Central City Opera as the enchantress, Armida. The young Korean-American soprano made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 2007 as Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro and as Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera. She also made her debut this fall with Minnesota Opera as Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and makes her European debut with the Bilbao Opera in Spain as Marie in La Fille du Régiment. Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins returns as Goffredo’s enemy, Argante. Mr. Hopkins made his company debut in 2008 as Junius in The Rape of Lucretia. Recent appearances include his role debut as Marcello in La Bohème at Houston Grand Opera, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte at Arizona Opera and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. Countertenor Jason Abrams returns as Goffredo’s brother, Eustazio, after his appearance as Arnalta in 2006’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea. A former Studio Artist in CCO’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, Mr. Abrams joined the roster of New York City Opera this past season in King Arthur and appeared as Nireno in Giulio Cesare with both Lyric Opera of Chicago and Florida Grand Opera. His extensive oratorio experience includes a debut last season at Carnegie Hall singing Messiah with the Oratorio Society of New York. Another former Studio Artist in Central City Opera’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, soprano Megan Hart returns to the company as Rinaldo’s love interest, Almirena, after her appearance last year as The Spirit of the Boy in Curlew River. A resident of the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program, she was recently featured in their productions of Hänsel and Gretel, Eugene Onegin and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

As part of their rigorous vocal and performance training, members of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Training Artists program will perform the remaining minor roles. Created by Artistic Director Emeritus John Moriarty in 1978, the rigorous 10-week program integrates daily training in diction, movement, and stage combat; individual coaching; and sessions in career management with rehearsals and performance opportunities in the summer's main stage and surrounding productions.
A full cast list is available at the end of this release.

Ticket and Festival Information
Subscriptions and single tickets are now available for Central City Opera’s 2009 Festival. Subscriptions to see Lucia di Lammermoor and A Little NightMusic (with exclusive subscriber-only pricing for Rinaldo) during the 2009 Festival start at just $95 and go up to $183. Bus subscriptions are available, as well as a 15% discount for groups of 10 or more and special discounts for seniors and students. Single ticket prices range from $50-$99. NEW THIS YEAR: Tuesday and Friday night performances start early at 7:30 p.m. with Thursday and Saturday night performances starting at 8:00 p.m.

2009 Festival goers can enhance their experience in Central City with additional artistic programming performed by the acclaimed Bonfils-Stanton Foundation apprentice and studio artists. Opera a la Carte at Williams Stables offers patrons the opportunity to see staged scenes from a wide range of opera favorites. An annual tradition, CCO artists-in-training will stage the cabaret opera about the Central City legend, The Face on the Barroom Floor. Commissioned by CCO in 1978, the popular one-act opera tells the legend of the famous painting on the Teller House floor. Prior to several matinee performances, patrons have the opportunity at the Teller House to enjoy lunch by Kevin Taylor and a recital by a 2009 Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training performer for Salon Recitals. Before every performance, a free pre-performance preview, Opera Notes, allows the audience to gain further insight into each production.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Central City Opera Box Office at 303-292-6700; 800-851-8175 or go online to www.centralcityopera.org.

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 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.

(Photos available upon request.)

*=Central City Opera Debut

By Georg Friedrich Handel
Edited for the Hallische Handel Ausgabe by David R. Kimbell

Used by arrangement with European American Music Distributors LLC, U.S. and Canadian agent for Baerenreiter, publisher and copyright owner.

Conductor: Matthew Halls*
Director: Marc Astafan
Choreographer: Kimberly Mackin
Scenic Designer: Caleb Wertenbaker
Costume Designer: Sara Jean Tosetti
Lighting Designer: David Martin Jacques
Wig/Makeup Designer: Alison M. Mizerski
Stage Manager: Diane Lin
Associate Conductor: Andrew Altenbach
Fight Choreographer: Andrew Kenneth Moss
Musical Preparation: Katherine Kozak, Pedro Yañez
Assistant Director: Tara Faircloth
Assistant Stage Manager: Pamela Durban
Supertitles: Thomas Getty
Harpsichord: Katherine Kozak, Pedro Yañez
Piano courtesy of Baker's Piano Center

Cast In order of vocal appearance
Rinaldo: Phyllis Pancella
Goffredo: David Walker
Argante: Joshua Hopkins
Armida: Kathleen Kim*
Almirena: Megan Hart
Eustazio: Jason Abrams
Mago: Tai Oney*
Sirens: Natasha Ospina, Stephanie Washington*
Herald: Clayton Hilley*
Donna: Claire Kuttler

Central City Opera Sponsors
Erna D. Butler
Central City Opera House Association Endowment Fund
Citizens of the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District
Estate of Carol K. Gossard
Lanny and Sharon Martin

Major Sponsors
Avenir Foundation
Boettcher Foundation
Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Endowment Fund
El Pomar Foundation
The Hill Foundation
Newmont Mining Corporation

Production Sponsors
American Express
Nancy P. Brittain
Mr. Daniel L. Ritchie

Performance Sponsors
In Honor of M. Poppe Lortscher
National Endowment for the Arts
James L. Palenchar and Lizabeth A. Lynner
Mr. and Mrs. Donald E. Scott
Gates Family Foundation