Emerald City Opera kicks off season | SteamboatToday.com
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Emerald City Opera kicks off season

Frances Hohl/For Steamboat Today
Opera singer Allison McAuley performs with the Emerald City Opera at the Yampa River Botanic Park Thursday as part of the Strings Music Festival's Music on the Green.
John F. Russell

— Here in Steamboat Springs, Emerald City Opera is spicing up its summer season with one of America’s great soprano stars, a clever fox and his redneck neighbors and a natural hot springs known for its beauty and night-time nudity.

OK, the local opera players won’t be performing in the nude, but there’s still a fantastic line-up of performances on tap for Emerald City’s upcoming season.

The summer’s first big production is being held Aug. 4 at the stunning Strawberry Park Hot Springs.

“This is unique and has never happened,” said Emerald City Opera Artistic Director Andres Cladera. “The sound up there is quiet, and the setting is so beautiful and operatic itself.”

The Hot Springs is a favorite haunt of the dashing Uruguayan-born orchestra conductor. On one of his visits there, Cladera had a chance meeting with the manager and mentioned the venue would be provide the perfect backdrop for the English baroque opera, Dido and Aeneas. The opera covers the tragic love story of the Trojan prince and queen of Carthage, much of which takes place in nature.

After some serious thought, it was decided to hold the opera at the Hot Springs site with ticket holders traveling to the remote location via a shuttle from the high school. Opera performances will be offered at noon and 6 p.m.

On Aug. 11, one of America’s favorite sopranos will star in a different opera, Florencia en el Amazonas, which will be performed at the Strings Music Pavilion.

Within 12 hours of arriving in Steamboat Springs, soprano Pamela Armstrong was hard at work with her co-stars, rehearsing at the college auditorium. Described over the years as “dazzling and magnetic” and her voice as “luscious and creamy,” Armstrong wowed her veteran co-stars and opera students during practice, drawing applause after an impressive solo.

“It’s fantastic to have her here,” said Cladera, who will be conducting this particular opera. “Pamela is a good friend, and we’ve worked on this opera before. We always wanted to do it together.”

Cladera said singers aren’t normally fond of high altitudes, but the lure of the mountains makes it easier to get commitments from stars like Armstrong, who have played with the world’s leading opera companies.

“It’s part of my technique,” grinned Cladera. “When I discuss things with managers and singers, I discuss the beauty of Steamboat.”

While Florencia is considered classic opera, a less intimidating option for those unfamiliar with opera can get a great taste of the art with the enchanting “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which will star Steamboat Springs children.

“I didn’t know kids could be part of the opera, and when I saw it, I thought ‘sweet’,” said 13-year-old Thea Dardanis, who plays a tree in the production that is being held Aug. 12 at the Larson Barn on Colorado Highway 131.

Conductor Robert Frankenberry will be leading the orchestra and singers. The Pittsburgh-based conductor is working with stage director Erica Olden, as they coach aspiring opera stars this week.

“You guys are so lucky — this is the best part of the opera,” Olden told three young men who were chosen to attend Emerald City Opera’s summer program working with opera professionals. They are performing the roles of outlandish farmers Bunce, Boggis and Bean and were clearly having tons of fun with the roles during practice this week.

In addition to these opera performances, singers chosen for this year’s Opera Artist Institute summer program will perform an arias concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 7 p.m. Aug. 3.

For a full list of operatic performances, times and dates visit Emeraldcityopera.com.


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