Opera Steamboat’s latest season brings rising stars to town | SteamboatToday.com

Opera Steamboat’s latest season brings rising stars to town

Kristin Ditlow is one of four female conductors for this summer's season. She will conduct “The Marriage of Figaro” on August 14 at the Steamboat Christian Center. (Photo courtesy of Lydia Grindatto)

Opera Steamboat’s summer season kicks off next week, this year with more music than ever before.

“We haven’t had fully staged operas since 2019,” said Andres Cladera, general and artistic director of Opera Steamboat. “We decided to do more opera than ever. People need more opportunities to get out and enjoy concerts.”

While the organization would typically host two or three operas per summer, this year, they will host five, in addition to several concerts.

The season begins Tuesday with a vocal and piano concert by Steven LaBrie and Adam Nielsen titled “Mexico, Mi Tierra Querida.”

Additional concerts include an arias and ensembles concert, music by Mozart and Nyman, and a free Wednesday morning concert during Music on the Green at the Yampa River Botanic Park.

The biggest hit, Cladera said, will be “The Barber of Seville,” which stars Raven McMillon, who recently won the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.

“This signifies the start of an international career at the biggest opera houses in the world,” Cladera said. “Steamboat Springs will witness the emergence of a future opera star. That is a rare occasion, and something our audiences should not miss.”

McMillon will play the role of Rosina, who, she said, is very ahead of the curve.

“Rosina is one of two women in the whole show,” McMillon said. “She’s always surrounded by men who have a plan, but she has her own plan and is always two steps ahead of all the guys.”

This is McMillon’s first time in the role of Rosina and her first time in Steamboat, as well.

Another favorite this summer will be “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” which Cladera calls a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” as it is not frequently performed.

The three other operas that will be performed this summer are “La Clemenza di Tito,” “The Magic Flute” and “The Marriage of Figaro.”

Omar Najmi will return to Steamboat for the role of Tito in Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito.” The Boston-based singer said he is ecstatic to be returning to the mountains this summer, as Colorado is his “favorite place in the world.”

It was during a year in Denver that Najmi met Cladera while working with Opera Colorado. When Cladera offered him the role of Tito, he immediately jumped at the opportunity.

“This is a role that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” he said. “Tito is an interesting character. As a tenor, I typically play smitten lovers, and Tito is not that.”

The opera tells the story of Tito, the emperor of Rome who wrestles with his duty. When a dear friend and confidante betrays him, Tito struggles with preserving his power or his ethic of forgiveness.

“It’s really glorious music,” Najmi said. “An opera like this is a great lens to look at the ideas and new forms that Mozart was exploring at the time.”

Four different female conductors — Dana Sadava, Maria Sensi Sellner, Emily Senturia and Kristin Ditlow — will conduct the five operas.

Ditlow, who will conduct Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” has wanted to conduct this opera for years, as it’s one of her personal favorites.

“Mozart changed the operatic world by giving his female characters empowered, noble and clever characteristics and music,” Ditlow said. “He gave them three-dimensional personalities and used the orchestra in new ways to show the complex dimensions of these characters. It is, therefore, absolutely perfect that Opera Steamboat has elevated women conductors to the podium in a season that features Mozart’s music so prominently.”

The operas and concerts will take place at different venues around town, including the Steamboat Art Museum, Steamboat Christian Center and Strings Music Pavilion. For dates, times and tickets, visit OperaSteamboat.org.

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