About Central City Opera

Established in 1932. Celebrating 90 Years in 2022.

About Central City Opera

Central City Opera’s mission is to enrich the lives and communities of those we serve and to provide a welcoming, inclusive environment of beauty and meaning. Officially founded in 1932, with roots going back to the mid 1800s, Central City Opera (CCO) is entrenched in Colorado heritage and the history of performing arts in the United States and abroad. CCO is the second oldest opera festival in the U.S. and makes its home in the fifth oldest opera house in the country. The company is renowned for its exquisite world-class productions, the competitive and robust Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artist Training Program and creative education and community engagement activities year-round.

General Overview

  • More than 15,000 people visit Central City for the summer opera festival each year.
  • CCO has a long record of historic preservation in the state, owning and maintaining 27 Victorian-era properties in Central City, including the intimate 550-seat jewel box opera house built in 1878.
  • 2022 marks the 90th year of Central City Opera’s summer festival.
  • Central City Opera reaches 40,000+ people a year through statewide education programs and performances.
  • Central City Opera’s acclaimed Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program has become a national model for development of young singers. The program, which selects approximately 30 participants from 1,000 applicants each year, has provided artistic training for many of the most notable young opera singers in the U.S.

About the Opera House

  • Central City Opera House has seen a wide variety of acts on its stage since the 1800s, ranging from opera, to vaudeville; community theater and even boxing matches.
  • The Central City Opera House was built for $23,000 and opened in March 1878. The venue was built for the community by Cornish and Welsh gold miners who wanted a place for entertainment.
  • The Opera House was designed by noted Colorado architect Robert S. Roeschlaub, who also designed the Chamberlin Observatory at the University of Denver.
  • After the town of Central City experienced some difficult times, the Opera House closed in 1927 and was donated to the University of Denver by the McFarlane family. Then, in 1931, two women named Anne Evans and Ida Kruse McFarlane created the Central City Opera House Association to restore the theater, and the University of Denver leased the theater to the company for $1 a year with a 99-year lease.