COMEDY, ROMANCE AND THE RISE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS: CENTRAL CITY OPERA’S 2014 FESTIVAL OPENS WITH A NEW PRODUCTION OF MOZART’S THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO
Denver, Colo. (June 18, 2014) – Central City Opera (CCO) opens its 2014 Summer Festival on June 28 with a new production of one of the world’s most beloved operas, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) in the intimate and historic 550-seat Central City Opera House.
Reminiscent of the popular period dramas Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, this new production explores Mozart’s groundbreaking and edgy satire of class struggle by relocating the opera to 1920s antebellum Spain.
The opera presents the continuing saga of characters familiar from Central City Opera’s well-attended 2013 production, The Barber of Seville, who are now ensconced in a Spanish country home and are being challenged by their societal roles. A time of great upheaval among the classes, the setting of the 1920s offers audiences the opportunity to laugh, cry, and ultimately cheer for the downstairs serving couple, Figaro and Susanna, as well as the upstairs aristocratic couple, Count Almaviva and Rosina, all of whom ultimately must adjust to the changing world around them. The production takes advantage of the changing hairstyles, fashions and mores of the decade to further illuminate the satire created by Mozart and his librettist Da Ponte. British stage director Alessandro Talevi returns for his third Central City Opera production. The Marriage of Figaro opens June 28, with performances continuing through July 27, and will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.
Live Broadcast on Colorado Public Radio: June 28
Colorado Public Radio’s (CPR) Classical Music station, KVOD, will feature a live broadcast of Central City Opera’s opening-night performance of The Marriage of Figaro on June 28. This will be the fourth live broadcast on CPR from the historic Central City Opera House. CPR Classical Music Host Charley Samson will present The Marriage of Figaro broadcast and provide interviews with performers and insightful commentary throughout the program. The broadcast begins at 7:55 p.m. prior to the start of the opera at 8 p.m. Listeners can tune in to: Denver 88.1 FM, Boulder 99.9 FM, Pueblo 91.9 FM, Colorado Springs 94.7 FM, Glenwood Springs 90.5 FM, Aspen 101.5 FM, Western Slope 103.3 FM, Dove Creek 88.7 FM, Gunnison 89.1 FM, Cortez 102.5 FM, Crystal River Valley / Old Snowmass 93.9 FM, Thomasville 93.7 FM, and online at www.CPR.org.
Take the Boomer Bus!
Patrons 50 to 65 can now travel to the opera in style. The Boomer Bus will be offered on July 6 to see The Marriage of Figaro. Opera goers will board a bus in Denver (10:45 a.m. from Sports Authority in Glendale and 11:15 a.m. from Simms Steakhouse off of 6th Ave), given a glass of champagne and be treated to a live history presentation of Central City and CCO, a catered lunch in the gardens, a behind the scenes experience, a Short Works program and a full live opera performance with seating in section A. The entertaining bus ride returning to Denver will include an opportunity for a Q&A session with a member of CCO’s education and community engagement team. Ticket prices are $80. The Boomer Bus will also be offered for a performance of CCO’s Dead Man Walking on July 13. Visit www.centralcityopera.org/boomer for additional information.
Making his U.S. debut in 2011 directing CCO’s Amadigi di Gaula and returning in 2012 to direct CCO’s The Turn of The Screw, British stage director Alessandro Talevi returns once again to direct a new production of this classic. Says Talevi, “My starting point was not to reinvent the wheel. Figaro’s plot and physical comedy need to come alive without the interference of an overbearing concept…The setting of 1920s Spain was chosen because it was deeply conservative and religious in conflict with a dynamic progressive movement of secularism, universal suffrage and workers’ rights. The clash of modernity and tradition is so tangibly real and extreme.”
A prize-winning finalist for 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 where he presented acclaimed stagings of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Händel’s Orlando. Other 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. Most recently, he directed new productions of Roberto Devereux and Anna Bolena with the Welsh National Opera, and The Turn of the Screw with the Israeli Opera.
Set Designer Madeleine Boyd also returns to CCO following her designs for the 2012 production of The Turn of the Screw and her 2011 debut with magical “Harry Potter” inspired production design and costumes for Amadigi di Gaula. Other recent designs for Ms. Boyd include La Traviata with Cape Town Opera, Djamileh and Le Docteur Miracle with Royal College of Music, and Cautionary Tales the Tour for Opera North Education. British-born Simon Anthony Wells* will be debuting with Central City Opera as the Associate Set Designer for The Marriage of Figaro. Making her American debut with Central City Opera, British-born Susan Kulkarni* will be The Marriage of Figaro Costume Designer with designs reminiscent of the popular PBS series, Downton Abbey. Ms. Kulkarni’s recent work includes costume designs for many productions in the Middle East including 1002 Nights for Aramco in Saudi Arabia, Hazawi – Eye and Mermaid, Three, and A Dream for the Doha Film Institute. She has also served as Costume Assistant to the well-loved British series, Downton Abbey. David Martin Jacques returns this summer for his 14th festival as Resident Lighting Designer. Mr. Jacques will light all three productions for the 2014 Festival. He has been lauded for his design of more than 300 theatre, opera, television, dance and special event productions. Wig/Makeup Designer Dave Bova returns to CCO for the third year to design for all three productions in 2014. In addition to his work with CCO, Mr. Bova’s other recent work has included Two Gentlemen of Verona with The Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Fallow with People’s Light and Theatre and Red with the George Street Playhouse.
A versatile young conductor whose work has taken him to some of the world’s most renowned opera companies and festivals, Adrian Kelly* will be making his North American debut conducting CCO’s The Marriage of Figaro. In 2009, Mr. Kelly was appointed First Kapellmeister at the Salzburger Landestheater, where he conducted productions of La Traviata, Der Freischütz, Don Giovanni and Tosca. Most recently, he has conducted Die Fledermaus, Tristan und Isolde, and La Cenerentola. He has also recently conducted Così fan tutte and a new production of Werther with Salzburg Landestheater and Rinaldo with Teatro Colon.
Praised by the New York Times as “nimble of voice, body and spirit,” soprano Anna Christy continues to impress audiences with an extraordinary blend of sparkling voice, powerful stage presence and innate musicality. She returns to CCO to perform the title role of Susanna, following her past CCO roles as Emily Webb in 2013’s Our Town, Olympia in 2004’s Les contes d’Hoffmann and Tytania in 2002’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ms. Christy made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Papagena in Julie Taymor’s new production of Die Zauberflöte, in 2005, and has since appeared there as Hortense in the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, as Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, and recently as Lisette in La Rondine. Additional important past engagements include Muffin in the world premiere of William Bolcom’s A Wedding at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Zemire in Zemire et Azor, along with her San Francisco debut as Angel More in The Mother of us All; Zerlina in Don Giovanni with the Los Angeles Opera; and her Santa Fe Opera debut as Jiang Ching in the world premiere of Madame Mao.
Bass-baritone Michael Sumuel* makes his CCO debut in the role of Figaro, which he recently performed with the Dayton Opera. Mr. Sumuel made his professional debut with the San Francisco Opera performing the roles of Tom and Ted in the 2011 world premiere of Heart of a Soldier. In addition to his role of Figaro with CCO in 2014, Mr. Sumuel will make his European debut as Schaunard in La bohème at the Glyndebourne Festival. Most recently he sang the role of Frank in Die Fledermaus with the Houston Grand Opera, and was a soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Irish soprano Sinéad Mulhern returns to CCO, playing the role of Countess following her acclaimed debut as the Governess in CCO’s The Turn of the Screw in 2012. Ms. Mulhern studied at The Juilliard School in New York and The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and was a Young Artist at the Centre de Formation Lyrique at the Opéra National de Paris, as well as a CCO Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist in 1994. Her many roles internationally include Adina in L’elisir d’amore and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte at the Toulon Festival, Sifare in Mozart’s Mitridate at the Theâtre du Châtelet in Paris, and Tatyana in Eugene Onegin with the Nationale Reisoper in the Netherlands. Most recently, she sang the role of Maquise de Merteuil in Francesconi’s Quartett with Opéra de Lille and Teatro alla Scala, the Governess in New Israeli Opera’s production of The Turn of the Screw, and Antonia/Giulietta/Stella in Les contes d’Hoffmann with Opera Hong Kong.
Baritone Edward Parks* makes his debut with CCO as Count Almaviva. Mr. Parks has recently performed the role of Figaro in The Barber of Seville with Orlando Philharmonic, along with performances as Valentin in Faust with Atlanta Opera and Marcello in La bohème. Bass baritone Thomas Hammons* makes his CCO debut as Bartolo, a role he has performed with many companies including Barcelona’s famed Teatro Liceu, Opera Colorado, and Atlanta Opera. A versatile singing actor, Mr. Hammons made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as the Sacristan in Tosca, and took part in the premiere of Jonathan Miller’s acclaimed production of Le nozze di Figaro. Mr. Hammons created the role of Henry Kissinger in the world premiere of John Adams’ Nixon in China for Houston Grand Opera, a portrayal that was subsequently seen in Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, and Los Angeles, along with recent revivals including Opera Colorado and Vancouver Opera.
Mezzo-soprano Tamara Gura* will be making her U.S. and CCO debut in the role of Cherubino. Known for her rich, velvety voice and dynamic stage presence, Ms. Gura sang the title role of La Cenerentola at the Landestheater Salzburg, Hermia in a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at English National Opera, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award, as well as the role of Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Semperoper in Dresden. She was a member of the prestigious Opera Studio of the Zurich Opera Hamburg State Opera and performed the title role of Handel’s Ariodante at the Landestheater Salzburg, as well as Dorabella in Così fan tutte and the title role in La Cenerentola with the Mozarteum Orchestra. In addition to her role with CCO this season, she will perform Balkis in a new production of Gluck’s La Rencontre imprévue in Salzburg and Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with the Tokyo National Symphony.
Tenor Joseph Gaines will perform the role of Basilio. Gaines made his main stage debut with CCO as Goro in 2010’s Madama Butterfly, following his appearances in L’Incoronazione di Poppea and The Ballad of Baby Doe as a 2006 Bonfils-Stanton Artists Training Program Apprentice Artist. This past spring, Mr. Gaines performed as Basilio/Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro with Pittsburgh Opera and as Cicillo in I Gioielli Della Madonna with Teatro Grattacielo in New York City. Most recently, he performed the role of Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Philadelphia, and Caius in Falstaff with the Metropolitan Opera. A 2013 CCO Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist, mezzo soprano Claire Shackleton* will make her professional debut with CCO as Marcellina after performing while an Apprentice as Mrs. Soames in 2013’s Our Town. Other past performances include Prince Charming in Cendrillon with Kentucky Opera and the Santa Fe Concert Association, and Siébel in Faust with Austin Lyric Opera. Ms. Shackleton will also appear with CCO this summer as Jade Boucher in Dead Man Walking.
Central City Opera 2014 Festival
Central City Opera House – June 28 to July 26
The Marriage of Figaro opens the Festival in Central City on June 28 and runs through July 26. Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking, based on the true story and famous book written by Sister Helen Prejean about her relationship with Louisiana death row inmate Joseph De Rocher, which was also an award-winning movie is the second offering opening July 5 and running at the Opera House through July 25.
The Sound of Music at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex – August 6 to 11
Central City Opera comes to Denver once again for seven performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein II’s beloved classic Sound of Music. The production will run in Denver only at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House from August 2 through August 10, and feature a full live orchestra.
In addition to its slate of operas for 2014, CCO will continue to present innovative initiatives that will engage a broader audience with exciting enhancements to the Festival experience. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.centralcityopera.org or call 303-292-6700.
Celebrating its 82nd 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.
Central City Opera 2014 Production Cast List
*=Central City Opera Debut
The Marriage of Figaro
Music: W.A. Mozart
Libretto: Lorenzo Da Ponte
Conductor: Adrian Kelly*
Director: Alessandro Talevi
Scenic Designer: Madeleine Boyd
Costume Designer: Susan Kulkarni*
Lighting Designer: David Martin Jacques
Wig/Makeup Designer: Dave Bova
Associate Scenic Designer: Simon Anthony Wells*
Supertitles: Thomas Getty
Susanna: Anna Christy
Figaro: Michael Sumuel*
Countess: Sinéad Mulhern
Count: Edward Parks*
Bartolo: Thomas Hammons*
Cherubino: Tamara Gura*
Basilio: Joseph Gaines
Marcellina: Claire Shackleton*