CENTRAL CITY OPERA'S 2012 FESTIVAL OPENS WITH A NEW PRODUCTION OF THE BROADWAY CLASSIC, OKLAHOMA!
Denver, Colo.- Central City Opera (CCO) opens its 2012 Festival with a new production of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's musical theater classic, Oklahoma!. Directed by Ken Cazan, the production starts June 30, with performances continuing through August 11.
Set at the turn of the 20th century in the Oklahoma territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906, Oklahoma! is the cherished love story of Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, an endearing yet independent farm girl. Featuring favorite numbers like "People Will Say We're In Love", "Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'", and "Surrey With the Fringe On Top", this musical has won the hearts of people time and time again.
Considered to be the "first great American musical," this piece launched the remarkable songwriting collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Oklahoma! is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, two Academy Awards, a Grammy and a special Tony Award, among many others. Based on the 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs, Oklahoma! ran for an unprecedented 2,243 performances after its original opening in 1943, and later enjoyed award-winning revivals, national tours, foreign productions and an Academy Award-winning film adaptation in 1955.
"I wanted to create a production that wasn't totally quaint, but still was a tribute to the pioneering spirit of these rough and active settlers of the Midwest. We've gone for a minimal approach to the physical production," comments Oklahoma! director, Kenneth Cazan. "This one is for my ancestors - German, Scottish and Romanian immigrants - who moved to the Midwest during this very period."
Oklahoma! in Denver (August 5 & 7)
For opera lovers who can't visit Central City, the 2012 Festival will once again come down the mountain to Denver! Two performances of Central City Opera's full production of Oklahoma!, including sets, costumes and a live orchestra,will be presented at the June Swaner Gates Concert Hall in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver. Tickets start at $23 and are now available. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. To purchase tickets, go to www.newmantix.com or call 303-871-7720.
The director of last summer's three one-acts, Ken Cazan returns to CCO to direct Oklahoma! after his other recent credits with the company of 2010's Three Decembers, A Little Night Music in 2009 and the sold-out West Side Story in 2008. Resident Stage Director 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. Daniel Pelzig, choreographer and director of CCO's Carmen in 2011 and choreographer of West Side Story in 2008, will choreograph Oklahoma!. Having worked often with companies across the country such as the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera and Houston Grand Opera, Mr. Pelzig is also a director at ABC Television. For theatre companies on Broadway, he has choreographed 33 Variations at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and A Year with Frog and Toad at the Cort Theatre. Alan E. Muraoka makes his CCO debut as the Scenic Designer 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. Hailed for her richly evocative and character-enhancing period costumes, Marcy Froehlich also makes her CCO debut as Costume Designer 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 12th festival as Resident Lighting Designer. Mr. Jacques will light all three productions for the 2012 Festival. He has been lauded for his design of more than 300 theatre, opera, television, dance and special event productions. Wig/Makeup Designer for all three productions in 2012 is Dave Bova, making hisCentral City Opera debut. 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 Ravinia.
Christopher Zemliauskas returns to Central City Opera to conduct Oklahoma! Currently the Assistant Musical Director of the Opera Program at CU Boulder, Mr. Zemliauskas was the Associate Conductor and Chorus Master for Central City Opera from 2004-2008. He made his debut as a conductor with the company leading A Little Night Music in 2009 and most recently conducted five performances of Carmen last summer. He has also been on the music staff with Minnesota Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera Colorado, and Indianapolis Opera.
Touted as a detailed actor with a natural stage presence, soprano Maureen McKay makes her CCO debut as the fun-loving farm girl, Laurey Williams. Ms. McKay has been praised for her performances with opera companies throughout the U.S. and abroad including her recent performances as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel with the Metropolitan Opera, as Blanche in Dialogues des carmélites and Musetta in La bohème with Komische Oper Berlin and Eurydice in Orphée et Eurydice with Opera Company of Philadelphia. Ms. McKay is also at home with a wide range of roles from opera to musical theater including Laurie in The Tender Land, Johanna in Sweeney Todd and Anne in A Little Night Music. Ms. McKay is joined by baritone Matthew Worth who performs as the male lead of Curly McLain. Worth, who made his Central City Opera debut in 2010 as Jupiter in Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, has been hailed by the New York Times for a voice that is "fully powered and persuasively expressive". Recent performances include the role of Charlie in Jake Heggie's Three Decembers at Chicago Opera Theater, Mercutio in Romeo et Juliette with New Orleans Opera, and Valentin in Gounod's Faust with the Santa Fe Opera. This season, Mr. Worth will make his debuts with Lyric Opera of Chicago Opera Memphis, and Minnesota Opera. Baritone Curt Olds returns as Will Parker after his most recent appearance with the company as John Styx in 2010's Orpheus in the Underworld. A former Studio and Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera, Mr. Olds now enjoys a career in both opera and musical theatre having performed in the original German production of Cats, on Broadway in Riverdance, as well as with Arizona Opera, Edmonton Opera and Hawaii Opera Theatre, to name a few. Making his CCO debut in the role of the villainous Jud Fry, Paul LaRosa is in his final year as a member of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. A graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center, Mr. LaRosa appeared there in diverse roles from Ford in Verdi's Falstaff to Rambo in Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer. Other performances include Papageno in Die Zauberflöte and Kuligin in Kátya Kabanová with the Lyric Opera of Chicago; and Rambo/ Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Following his most recent role as Lutz in the 2004 production of The Student Prince, Gene Scheer returns to CCO to play the role of Persian peddler Ali Hakim. In addition to his appearances as a performer, Mr. Scheer is acclaimed for his music and lyrics. He has collaborated often with composer Jake Heggie, including the critically acclaimed 2010 Dallas Opera world premiere, Moby-Dick; Three Decembers performed at Central City Opera in 2010; and the lyric drama To Hell and Back, featuring Patti LuPone. Mr. Scheer also worked as librettist with Tobias Picker on the 2005 Metropolitan Opera premiere of An American Tragedy. A composer in his own right, he has written pieces for singers such as Renée Fleming, Sylvia McNair, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Larmore, Denyce Graves and Nathan Gunn.
A CCO veteran, mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle returns to Central City Opera in the role of the feisty Aunt Eller after notable appearances as Madeline in Three Decembers, Augusta in 2006's The Ballad of Baby Doe, Elizabeth in the North American premiere of Britten's Gloriana, and Madama de Croissy in Les Dialogues des Carmélites. An extraordinarily versatile artist, Ms. Castle hasan extensive repertoire of nearly 140 roles from Strauss and Wagner to Bernstein and Sondheim. She has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Berkshire Opera, Washington National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and many more. Making his CCO debut, bass-baritone Thomas Goerz performs the role of Ado Annie's gun-wielding father, Andrew Carnes. Known for his dramatic integrity and vocal clarity, he has performed with the Met, Vancouver Opera, Glimmerglass Opera and many others. Mezzo-soprano Kaitlyn Costello makes her professional Central City Opera debut as Ado Annie. A 2011 CCO Apprentice Artist, Ms. Costello has recently performed as Meg Page in Falstaff with the Manhattan School of Music; and Nicklausse in Les Contes d'Hoffmann with Georgia State Productions. Artists in CCO's Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, celebrating 34 years in 2012, round out the remainder of the cast. Mezzo-soprano Erin Greene plays Gertie Cummings, while baritone Nathan LeFevre Milholin takes on the role of Ike Skidmore. Baritone Andrew Lovato plays the role of Cord Elam, and soprano Alisa Suzanne Jordheim plays Ellen. Stephen Carroll takes on the role of Fred, soprano Claire Kuttler plays Virginia, mezzo-soprano Monica Soto-Gil plays Kate and soprano Catherine O'Rourke plays Vivian. Company members of Ballet Nouveau Colorado will perform as dancers in this new production of Oklahoma!.
2012 Festival Tickets on Sale Now!
2012 Festival subscriptions include the options of a two-pack of Oklahoma! and La bohème or a three-pack including The Turn of the Screw. Subscriptions are on sale now starting at just $32 and single tickets start at $20. In addition to its slate of operas for 2012, CCO will continue to present innovative offerings that will enhance the Central City experience and engage a broader and younger audience. For more information or to purchase tickets for 2012, visit www.centralcityopera.org or call 303-292-6700.
Central City Opera's 2012 Festival is sponsored in part by: SCFD, 9 News, The Denver Post Community, 5280 magazine, CCOHA Endowment Fund, Lanny and Sharon Martin, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Pamela and Louis Bansbach, and Avenir Foundation.