CENTRAL CITY OPERA ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT OF JOHN MORIARTY, FOUNDER/ADMINISTRATOR OF BONFILS-STANTON FOUNDATION ARTISTS TRAINING PROGRAM
Denver, Colo. (November 1, 2011) - Central City Opera's (CCO) General/Artistic Director, Pelham (Pat) G. Pearce, announces that following more than 30 years of service, John Moriarty is retiring as the administrator of the company's nationally recognized Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program. The organization is also pleased to announce that it has named Marc Astafan to succeed Mr. Moriarty as the new administrator of the Program.
"The past 33 summers I have spent in Central City have been among the most productive and satisfying for me. From the time of my arrival in 1978, I felt very much at home in the town and as part of the Opera Festival. Now, after having gradually shed administrative and conducting duties, I feel it is time to bring an end to what has been a most gratifying association," says John Moriarty. "Although it is with great sadness that I close this chapter, I can do so knowing that the Association and the Festival are in good hands. I shall always cherish the memories of my years with Central City Opera, as well as the many friendships I have made in Colorado."
John Moriarty - 30+ Years of Inspiration
In 1978, John Moriarty founded the company's Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, a rigorous 10-week program that has become a national model for the professional development of young singers. It integrates daily training in diction and movement, individual coaching, and sessions in career management with rehearsals and performance opportunities in the summer's main stage and surrounding productions. Approximately 30 participants are selected from more than 1,000 applicants each year. Some of America's most notable opera professionals, including Denyce Graves, Cynthia Lawrence, Mary Mills, Emily Pulley, Samuel Ramey, Celena Shaffer, Matthew Polenzani and Gregory Turay are former students of the program.
Mr. Moriarty served as Central City Opera's artistic director from 1982-1998 before becoming artistic director emeritus. Says Moriarty, "In 1982, when then Chairman of the Association At Gilman then Vice-President Jeannie Fuller asked me to assume the post of artistic director, I felt honored to be asked to take a leadership position with such a historic and storied organization. At that time, the Opera Festival was in shaky condition. But with superb cooperation and backing from the Board of Directors, it was possible to restore the Festival to its prominent place in Colorado and in the opera world."
In 2008, Moriarty celebrated 30 years with Central City Opera. The 2008 Festival included Opera Pops- A Tribute to John Moriarty, commemorating the artistic director emeritus' 30th anniversary with the company, as well as that of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program. The evening was headlined by Artists Training Program alumna, Denyce Graves. At the closing ceremonies for the Central City Opera Festival, it was proclaimed by then Mayor Buddy Schmalz that "in honor of the distinguished career of Artistic Director Emeritus John Moriarty and his accomplishments and contributions to the City of Central through his dedicated and loyal service to the Central City Opera, 'A' Street will now be known as 'Moriarty Lane.'" Mr. Moriarty had the great honor of replacing the street sign for "A" Street with one for "Moriarty Lane" following the ceremonies. Ten years prior, on June 17, 1998, then Colorado Governor Roy Romer declared June 17, 1998 as John Moriarty Day "for his uncompromising dedication to artistic excellence."
A lauded conductor of many Central City Opera productions during his tenure, Mr. Moriarty led the world premiere of Henry Mollicone's Gabriel's Daughter in 2003, as well as the CCO digital recording of Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe in 1996 and the 50th anniversary production of the opera in 2006. The John Moriarty Award is named in his honor and annually presented to an exemplary Apprentice Artist at the final performance of the festival.
"In addition to his many contributions to the opera world, John Moriarty has enriched Central City Opera with his development of a young artists training program that has become one of the most respected in the country, along with love and knowledge of the art form, history, and the company's properties," says Central City Opera President/Chairman of the Board Nancy Parker. "Central City Opera's 30 plus years with John have been years of rebuilding, progress, education and joy to the opera fans of Colorado. We thank him for the experience and dedication."
Marc Astafan -Veteran Stage Director Takes on New Role at CCO
As the new Administrator of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, Astafan will continue with the format established by John Moriarty, with an added acting class and stage technique class taught by Astafan. He will also be adding one-on-one acting, monologue coachings and role study. The Apprentice Artists will have opera scene study with the CCO directing staff in preparation for the Short Works scenes offerings that will be overseen by Astafan. They will continue to perform featured roles in the main stage productions, as well as covering roles that will be performed by CCO's guest artists. CCO will also carry forward its mission for the program to make sure that the Apprentice Artists receive information and coaching in regards to the business aspects of the art form and its ever-evolving trends.
"I'm thrilled to return to Central City Opera in this new position, and to play such a vital role in the training of young and exceptionally talented opera artists. This is not only a new beginning but a continuation of the legacy that my mentor, champion and friend, John Moriarty, began. He is responsible for my early career as an opera educator and stage director and to him I'll always be grateful," says Astafan.
The two first met in late 1992 when John interviewed Marc to assistant direct at CCO. John didn't hire Astafan and Marc took a position with The Santa Fe Opera that summer. Soon after, John's then assistant at New England Conservatory in Boston (NEC), James Robinson, hired Marc as a stage manager for The Barber of Seville, a production that was directed and conducted by John. This marked the first time the two worked together. The following year, John called Marc and offered him an assistant directing position at CCO for the company's season opener, Manon, directed by Adelaide Bishop. Says Astafan, "At this point, John had never seen my work as a director, but he went with his gut feeling about me. His feelings about young talent were usually right." A few weeks later, Moriarty asked Astafan to join him on the faculty at NEC. Astafan continued to assistant direct at CCO in the summers until Moriarty offered Astafan the opportunity to direct Tosca in 1998. The two continued to work together at NEC until 2000 when Astafan left to join the directing staff at The Met.
Marc Astafan is a respected director, educator, mentor and coach who has dedicated most of his career to the development of young opera singers in the United States. Marc's career took off in 1994 at the NEC, where he eventually became the Resident Stage Director and Director of Productions, and continued teaching classes in acting, stage technique, directing and scene study until 2008. He made his official directing debut with The Magic Flute at the Eugene Opera in Oregon in 1996. Many engagements followed, most notably productions at Central City Opera, Virginia Opera, Nevada Opera, Opera Delaware, Anchorage Opera, and Syracuse Opera. He has also been guest director and teacher at The Juilliard School, Temple University, Florida State University and The University of Southern California, as well as directing and teaching at Central City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Music Academy of the West, Bay View Music Festival, Atlantic Coast Opera Festival and The Tanglewood Music Center. Marc's New York debut came in 1999 when he directed and choreographed The Magic Flute on the site of the Egyptian Temple of Dendur at The Metropolitan Museum of Art with the Opera Orchestra of New York.
From 2000 to 2002, he directed The Met's revivals of Tosca and Le Nozze di Figaro. Since then, Astafan has continued to direct critically acclaimed productions across the country. Astafan attended Schenectady County Community College, The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York and The Boston Conservatory.
Astafan's full Central City Opera credits include: Assistant Stage Director for Manon in 1994, The Queen of Spades in 1995, Rigoletto in 1996, Madama Butterfly in 1997 and 2005; Stage Director for Tosca in 1998, Don Giovanni in 2006, Cendrillon in 2007, Rinaldo in 2009, and Orpheus in the Underworld in 2010; Collaborations with CCO and the CSO for A Night at the Opera in 1997, The Jerome Kern Songbook in 2002, HMS Pinafore in 2004, The Pirates of Penzance in 2005, and The Mikado in 2006. Astafan also assisted with Education and Community Programs from 1994-1996, as well as The Face on the Barroom Floor from 1996-1998, an opera that was commissioned by CCO in 1978.
Running June 30 to Aug. 12, Central City Opera's 2012 Festival will feature three new dynamic productions: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's original collaboration and Broadway classic, Oklahoma!;Puccini's famous and most popular opera, La Bohème; and a new production of Benjamin Britten's chamber opera based on the Henry James ghost story, The Turn of The Screw, as part of the world-wide celebration of the centenary of Britten's birth. In addition to its slate of operas for 2012, CCO will continue to present innovative initiatives that will engage a broader audience. Attendees will again find many exciting enhancements to their Central City experience. Subscriptions for the 2012 Festival are on sale now starting at just $28. For more information, visit www.centralcityopera.org or call 303-292-6700.