A workshop reading of Act II of a new opera, Lottie Silks, at the Writing the Rockies 2018 Conference in Gunnison.

Friday, July 20, 2018
5:00 pm
Taylor Hall Studio Theater, Western State Colorado University
600 N. Adams St., Gunnison, CO 81231 [map]

Tickets: All general conference registrations include admission for one person to the New Opera Workshop performance; individual tickets will also be sold at the door on a first-come, first-served basis (no reservations) to the general public for $20/person, $10/students.

Central City Opera Touring Artists Adam Ewing, Jason Baldwin, Paige Sentianin, Margaret Siegrist and Joshua Zabatta join the Writing the Rockies 2018 Conference in Gunnison for the 4th Annual New Opera Workshop. Along with other musicians, they will perform a concert reading of the second act of a new opera created by composer Justus (Jay) Parrotta and librettist Enid Holden. Learn more and register for the conference at the Writing the Rockies 2018 Conference website to attend workshops, lectures, and the premiere performance of Act II of Lottie Silks.

Writing the Rockies 2018

Now in its 19th year, Writing the Rockies is one of the region’s preeminent writers’ conferences. It takes place each year during the last long weekend of July as part of Western’s low-residency Graduate Program in Creative Writing, and like that program offers events in poetry, genre fiction, screenwriting for film & tv, publishing and creative nonfiction.

The conference is co-sponsored by Western’s Department of Communication Arts, Language and Literature and welcomes beginners, students, published writers in all genres, editors, teachers, and anyone else who believes in the magic and power of the written word.

Set in the beautiful Gunnison Valley of the central Colorado Rockies on the campus of Western State Colorado University, the conference offers a wide range of workshops, lectures, seminars, readings, and special events that create an intense, collegial writers’ community and retreat across four days. The conference includes a book fair featuring hundreds of titles by the speakers and presenters.

Conference faculty are highly distinguished and have published in every genre imaginable, including fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, journalism, criticism and scholarship, as well as having experience as editors, publishers and agents. In addition to enrolling in workshops or seminars and attending other events, participants can sign up for manuscript reviews and pitch sessions.


Lottie Silks is a full-length opera in three acts, set in a parlor house in Gunnison, Colorado in 1885, inspired by a true Western love story. The 2018 Writing the Rockies New Opera Workshop will be presenting Act I, in piano reduction.


Herman, a butcher, falls in love with a paid dancing girl, Lottie, in a parlor house and marries her. His business partner’s wife, Adela, persuades the townsfolk that the match is not respectable. No-one attends the wedding feast and Lottie continues to be spurned, even though she wins the crown anonymously at a miners’ ball. Later, Lottie falls ill and Adela exchanges her medication with poison. Lottie dies in Herman’s arms. Adela claims it’s suicide, but Herman is able to persuade the town of Lottie’s innocence. They repent and Adela is suspected and isolated.


Act I: Herman, a German immigrant, and his business partner, Roland own a butcher shop in Gunnison. The two men frequent a parlor house, where they mingle with the hurdy-gurdy girls, who are paid dancers. Herman falls in love with Lottie, one of the hurdy-gurdies. Roland is married to Adela but he has an ongoing liaison with Gisela, a courtesan of the establishment and a friend of Lottie’s.

Act II: When Herman marries Lottie against Roland’s advice, Adela, the snobbish wife of Roland, sees to it that the townspeople boycott the wedding feast and continue to shun Lottie. Herman hears of a masked miners’ ball coming up and he sends Lottie incognito in a dress of great finery to prove to the community that she is gracious and accomplished. She is crowned the belle of the ball but the ladies find out her identity and rip the crown off her head, insisting that she leave. Isolated by the town, Lottie takes up painting to fill the lonely hours, a pastime that Adela shares. One of Lottie’s paintings is bought by a museum, which incites great jealousy in Adela. Lottie falls ill one day and Herman sends for the doctor. Adela manages to swap the doctor’s prescribed medicine with poison and Herman administers it to Lottie. She dies in his arms. Adela tries to persuade the townsfolk that this is a suicide and that Lottie should be prevented from being buried in the consecrated churchyard. Herman swears revenge. He sings of Lottie’s virtue and suffering and convinces the people that Adela is wrong, and they all come bearing flowers to the beautiful grave that Herman makes and repent the nasty way in which they treated Lottie. They ostracize the mean-spirited Adela, beginning to suspect her role in the tragedy, and she finally feels what it is to be an outsider.

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