Kelly Nelson, Publicist

303-909-5716; kelly@citruspr.com

Valerie Hamlin, Director of Marketing

303-292-6500, ext. 108; vhamlin@centralcityopera.org

April 19, 2011


CARMEN by Georges Bizet

AMADIGI DI GAULA by Georg Friedrich Händel (North American Premiere)

A Double Bill of Three One Act Operas:

GIANNI SCHICCHI by Giacomo Puccini



Denver, Colo. - General/Artistic Director Pelham G. Pearce announces Central City Opera’s (CCO) 2011 Festival, running June 25 - Aug. 7, featuring a wide range of selections with something for everyone. The 2011 Festival will feature a new production of Bizet’s Carmen,directed by Metropolitan Opera choreographer Daniel Pelzig, the first fully-staged production in North America of Händel’s Amadigi di Gaula, and a double bill of three one act operas: Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, The Breasts of Tiresias (Les Mamelles de Tiresias) by Poulenc and Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins (Die sieben Todsünden).

“In addition to our slate of operas for 2011, CCO is presenting new innovative initiatives that will engage a broader and younger audience, provide performances outside of Central City and ‘festivalize’ the Festival this summer,” explains Central City Opera General/Artistic Director Pelham G. Pearce. “We will be including numerous opportunities for entertainment in various venues in the city. Attendees will find many exciting changes and enhancement to their Central City experience.”

The 2011 Festival opens with Georges Bizet’s famous story of love, jealousy, and murder, Carmen. Set in Seville, Spain, the story follows the romance of the beautiful gypsy, Carmen, and Corporal Don José. After their relationship leads him to reject his former love, commit mutiny against a superior officer and join a gang of smugglers, José’s jealousy turns to murder when Carmen leaves him for a bullfighter. Much more tragic than any opera Bizet’s audiences were used to and a departure from the tradition of Opéra Comique, critics denounced Bizet’s opera as immoral even before it was first performed in Paris in 1875. Carmen grew in popularity after its premiere and is today one of the most beloved and frequently performed operas of all time. Daniel Pelzig, choreographer of CCO’s West Side Story in 2008, will direct Carmen. 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 and for theatre companies on Broadway. He recently choreographed 33 Variations at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre and A Year with Frog and Toad at the Cort Theatre. With a repertoire encompassing a wide variety of symphonic works and nearly 60 operas, American maestro Timothy Myers returns to Central City Opera to conduct Carmen. Considered one of the most riveting and significant young artists performing today, mezzo-soprano Kirstin Chávez, who made her CCO debut as Desideria in the 2007 production of The Saint of Bleecker Street, returns to perform the title role of Carmen. Tenor Jonathan Burton makes his Central City Opera debut as Carmen’s self-destructive and obsessive love interest Don José. Baritone Gustavo Ahualli takes on the role of Escamillo and Soprano Elizabeth Caballero is village maiden, Micaëla, both making their Central City Opera debuts. Carmen will be performed in French with English supertitles.

Central City Opera’s second offering in the 2011 Festival is Händel’s Baroque opera, Amadigi di Gaula, with a libretto by an unknown author.The “knight in shining armor” tale is based on the book Amadis de Gaula by Antoine Houdar de la Motte. It follows Amadigi, a Paladin (warrior of Charlemagne’s court) and Dardano, Prince of Thrace, who are both in love with the beautiful Oriana, daughter of the King of the Fortune Islands. Oriana prefers Amadigi, as does the sorceress Melissa. Considered one of Händel’s “magic” operas, Melissa fights for Amadigi’s love through the use of sorcery and potions, but true love prevails in the end. The opera was well received when it premiered at the King’s Theatre in London in 1715, but then fell into neglect until the mid-1900s. Central City Opera’s new production will be the North American premiere of the first fully-staged version of Amadigi di Gaula with direction by British stage director Alessandro Talevi, who makes his U.S. debut with the production. A prize-winning finalist at the 2007 European Opera-Directing Prize in Wiesbaden, Mr. Talevi was also the co-founder and artistic director of Independent Opera at Sadler’s Wells in London, producing acclaimed stagings of works such as Debussy’s Pelléas et Melisande and Händel’s Orlando. Other recent successes have included The Turn of the Screw for Opera North in Leeds, La Cenerentola for Malmö Opera in Sweden, and several productions at the major London conservatories. British maestro Matthew Halls, who made his CCO debut with 2009’s Rinaldoand conducted2010’s Madama Butterfly, will return to conduct Amadigi di Gaula. Recently, Mr. Halls assumed the position of Artistic Director for the newly formed Retrospect Ensemble based in the U.K. 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, and tours to Korea, Israel, Portugal and Switzerland. In March 2012, Mr. Halls will be taking Central City Opera’s production of Amadigi di Gaula to Wigmore Hall in London. Earlier this year, Mr. Halls debuted with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra conducting Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. He has also worked extensively with many of Europe’s opera houses including The Netherlands Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Komische Oper Berlin, as well as at venues such as The Megaron, Athens, Lincoln Center, New York and Wiener Festwochen. South African countertenor Christopher Ainslie makes his U.S. and CCO debut in the title role of Amadigi. Having rapidly established himself amongst the leaders in his voice type, he has appeared twice at London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, at the Glyndebourne Festival, Opera de Lyon, Drottningholm Palace Theatre, and the Göttingen Händel Festival. Soprano Katherine Manley also makes her U.S. stage and CCO debut as the female love interest, Oriana, and she is joined by countertenor David Trudgen whomakes his CCO debut as Dardano, Prince of Thrace. Soprano Kathleen Kim returns to play the evil sorceress Melissa, following her CCO debut as Armida in 2009’s Rinaldo. Amadigi di Gaula will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.

As its final presentation in 2011, Central City Opera will produce three one act operas: Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, The Breasts of Tiresias (Les Mamelles de Tiresias) by Poulenc and Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins (Die sieben Todsünden). These three productions will be presented as alternating double bills (two shows per evening).

For the first time at Central City Opera, audiences will be given the option of purchasing one, two or three of these one acts, so they can stay for just part of the evening or attend on multiple nights for more flexibility. The director of last summer’s Three Decembers, Ken Cazan returns to CCO to direct the three one acts after his other recent credits with CCO of A Little Night Music in 2009 and the sold-out West Side Story in 2008. The 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.

Celebrating his 20th Festival with the company in 2011, CCO Music Director John Baril will serve as conductor, having led a wide range of productions during his tenure with the company, including 2010’s performances of Three Decembers. After recently making his Nashville Opera debut conducting Don Giovanni, Mr. Baril also led the young artist performance of The Barber of Seville for Opera Colorado in February 2010 and made his Opera Delaware debut in May 2010 conducting Tosca. He will make his official Opera Colorado conducting debut in February of 2012 leading Le Nozze di Figaro.

Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi is a comedic one act opera with an Italian libretto by Giovacchino Forzano, based on a story referred to in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The story, set in Florence, Italy, follows the family of Buoso Donati, an extremely wealthy man who dies and leaves his fortune to the local monks. The family begs the cunning Gianni Schicchi to help them procure Donati’s fortune, and hijinks ensue. Best known for the soprano aria, “O mio babbino caro (Oh, my dear Papa),” the opera is the third portion of Puccini’s trilogy of one act operas, Il trittico. A 2010 Grammy winner, baritone Daniel Belcher returns to Central City Opera as the sly and clever Gianni Schicchi. Soprano Joanna Mongiardo returns as Lauretta after making her Central City Opera debut in 2006 as Baby Doe in The Ballad of Baby Doe and returning last summer as Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld. In the 2011/2012 season, Ms. Mongiardo will join the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for their production of Manon. Mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell makes her debut with Central City Opera as Zita, and rising young tenor star, Norman Reinhardt, makes his debut with CCO as Rinuccio. Gianni Schicchi will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.

The Breasts of Tiresias (Les Mamelles de Tiresias), by Francis Poulenc, is a surrealist opéra bouffe (comic opera). Based on a play of the same name by Guillaume Apollinaire, the opera is set in the imaginary town of Zanzibar, near Monte Carlo. It follows the story of Thérèse, who tires of her life as a submissive woman and becomes the male Tirésias when her breasts turn in to balloons and float away. She then tries to conquer the world as General Tiresias; meanwhile her husband finds a way to bear children without women. The Breasts of Tiresias first premiered at the Opéra Comique in 1947. The comic opera was a much-needed relief for Parisians in the midst of war. Baritone Robert Gardner returns to Central City Opera in the role of Le Directeur. Soprano Joanna Mongiardo, who also will play the role of Lauretta inGianni Schicchi, plays the title role of Thèrése. Also starring as Gianni in Gianni Schicchi, baritone Daniel Belcher will sing the role of Le Mari, the husband. The Breasts of Tiresias (Les Mamelles de Tiresias) will be performed in French with English supertitles.

Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins (Die sieben Todsünden) is a satirical ballet chante, or “sung ballet,” in seven scenes. It was the last collaboration between Weill and Bertolt Brecht, who wrote the libretto. It follows the story of Anna and her split personalities, the singer (Anna I), and a dancer (Anna II). Anna travels to seven cities, running into a sin in each city, as she searches for money to build a home for her family. The opera was first performed in 1933 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, and was directed, produced, and choreographed by George Balanchine. Mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell performs the role of Anna I, Sarah Tallman performs the dancing role of Anna II, tenor Norman Reinhardt plays the role of the Father, or Tenor I, and tenor Philippe Pierce plays Tenor II, or Brother. Baritone Robert Gardner plays the role of Baritone, or Brother, and bass Andrew Harris plays the role of Bass, or Mother. Returning members, both Mr. Pierce and Mr. Harris are 2011 Apprentice Artists in CCO’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program.

2011 Festival Tickets on Sale Now!

Running June 25 to Aug. 7, the Festival offers a wide range of selections with something for everyone, including a new production of Bizet’s Carmen; the first fully-staged production in North America of Händel’s Amadigi di Gaula; and a double bill of three one act operas: Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, The Breasts of Tiresias by Poulenc and Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins. 2011 Festival subscriptions, starting at just $42, are on sale now and include Carmen, Amadigi di Gaula and two of the one-acts. Packages are also available to see all five shows this summer. Those who subscribe before May 2nd will receive a 30% discount off of regular single ticket prices. Single tickets, starting at $20, and tickets for individual one-act performances starting at just $10, are also on sale now. For more information or to purchase tickets for 2011, visit www.centralcityopera.org or call 303-292-6700.

Central City Opera’s 2011 Festival sponsors include the CCOHA Endowment Fund, Lanny and Sharon Martin, Avenir Foundation, 5280, 9News, The Denver Post Community, and the Citizens of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.

Celebrating its 79th 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.