Central City Opera On The Road

One of the fun aspects of being a part of the year-round Central City Opera staff is “loading up the opera bus” and presenting our school shows around the state.  

The Central City Opera Ensemble recently headed to Leadville, Colorado 

where, with the financial sponsorship of the Breckenridge Music Festival, we performed  En Mis Palabras (In My Own Words) for Lake County middle and high school students.  A bilingual (Spanish and English) opera commissioned by Central City Opera, En Mis Palabras is a story that every student, no matter what his or her cultural background, can relate to – the adolescent dilemma of finding your own voice, learning who you are – and the adult dilemma of knowing when and how much to let go so that a young adult may safely develop that sense of self.

Central City Opera’s EN MIS PALABRAS (IN MY OWN WORDS),  Pictured (L to R): Steven Taylor (Esteban), James Baumgardner (Rodolfo) and Chelsea de la Cuadra (Ana Maria). Photos by Erin Joy Swank.

In addition to the performance, we did get to spend a little time enjoying the sights of Leadville,

including the Tabor Opera House, built in 1879 by Colorado mining magnate Horace Tabor.  This building is featured in the opera The Ballad of Baby Doe, which Central City Opera premiered in 1956.  Tabor had his hand in nearly everything in Leadville and we found ourselves singing the opera lyrics out loud:

Tabor owns the op’ry house, Tabor owns the big hotel, 
Tabor owns the honkey tonk, Tabor owns the whole darn town! 
Tabor owns the groc’ry store, Tabor owns the bank as well. 
Tabor also wants to own that old Matchless Silver Mine.

In our traveling troupe that day was baritone Steven Taylor, who has portrayed Horace frequently over the years, including performances in the Tabor Opera House.  He pointed out that the 5th side window in the picture below is a little lower than the others, as there had previously been an upper walkway there to the Clarendon Hotel next door.  Apartments above the Opera House could be accessed this way as overflow for the hotel.  These days you can no longer ask Horace, “Can you direct me to the Clarendon Hotel,” as it has been torn down.  Somehow “Yonder is the Kum & Go” just doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?

We had a great time both presenting and reminiscing about opera on our day-outing to Leadville. If you want to learn more about the story of Horace Tabor and his wife Baby Doe, you can check out a recording of The Ballad of Baby Doe.  You can also see selections of it (as well as the story of other Colorado pioneers including the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “Aunt” Clara Brown) in one of our other school performances, How the West Was Sung.

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