My husband and I love opera, and had been subscribers for many years to the New York Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. When we moved west, we had some pangs of sorrow that we would be leaving the Met behind, but we knew that Denver had a wonderful Performing Arts Complex, that included the Opera Colorado, so we were hopeful that this would help ease our feelings of loss.
Our daughter surprised us at Christmas with tickets to the two opera productions that are being presented for the 2014 season--Rigoletto, which ran for four performances in March, and Carmen which will run for four performances in May! Opera Colorado performs at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House--a world class acoustical hall designed in the lyric style, and seats 2,225 people. The night we attended the opening of Rigoletto in March, a lecturer from the University of Colorado presented a free talk and synopsis about the opera, about an hour before the opening curtain, that we found very interesting.
The Denver opera house encompassed four levels: balcony, lodge, mezzanine and orchestra, all with clean sight lines. This magnificent space is one of only three opera houses in the United States, and one of nine world wide, that has seat back lyric titling at every seat in the house. As you can see in the photo collage above, the house also has a beautiful Chihuly glass chandelier in the main lobby.
My husband and I have been fortunate to see composer Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto many times at the Met, but I have to say we were pleasantly surprised and delighted by the Opera Colorado production! The orchestra, set, staging and principal artists were all top notch! Rachel Gilmore was particularly entrancing playing the role of Gilda, and I will be following her career more closely from now on. Rene Barbera handled the role of the Duke of Mantua with panache and delivered the signature tune "La Donna Mobile" with the skill. Baritone Gordan Hawkins played the title role as Rigoletto, the deformed court jester who tragically tried to protect his daughter Gilda's honor from the Duke, You can see his photo on the opera program cover above. His acting ability added quite a bit of drama to the role, giving it elegance and depth.
The final bow of Opera Colorado's cast of Rigoletto.
My husband and I are now looking forward to Carmen, and many more future productions of Opera Colorado! It is nice to know that opera is alive and well in Denver, with top notch facilities and the funding to attract major stars. Live opera as an art form is very expensive to maintain, and many cities in the US and in Europe are finding their opera companies in dire straits and are being forced to close. The latest such company is sadly, San Diego Opera. What a shame to lose the ability to see live performances! Opera is a wonderful gift you give yourself, and well worth the investment of the ticket price, which is usually very affordable. Attending a live opera is an opportunity to transport yourself into another world --with exquisite music, singing, acting, set design, costumes, hair and makeup, and pure emotion taking place on stage. There is no finer art form!
If you do not have the ability of attending a live opera performance I must tell you about another wonderful opera experience my husband and I had for the first time last weekend! We attended a New York Met Live in HD opera performance of composer Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme at a local theater in a nearby neighborhood in a Denver suburb. La Boheme is one of my favorite operas, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see it once again, albeit on a large movie screen. We actually saw Metropolitan Opera history being made, as the scheduled principal soprano in the production, Anita Hartig, was too ill with the flu to perform as Mimi! Met General Manager, Peter Gelb, wanted to replace her with another star soprano and called on Kristine Opolais, who had sung her first Madama Butterfly on the Met stage the prior night! She had had only two hours of sleep from the night before, but agreed to do the role and was on stage in the matinee performance for a global live performance broadcast around the US and the world, to 92,000 people. She is the only person ever in the Met's history to make two role debuts within 24 hours, and she did a remarkable job!
The Metropolitan Opera house gave her a standing ovation, as did the movie theater where we saw the live performance. Ms. Opolais was overjoyed at the applause!
To see if a local theater in your state or country broadcasts live High Definition productions of New York Metropolitan Opera performances, and to see the upcoming schedule, go to this link: Live in HD. Then you, too, can say you've experienced the best opera has to offer! The movie theater productions also include interesting interviews with casts members during intermission periods, and a peak behind the curtain at how the sets are placed for each scene, and many other interesting behind the scenes information.
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