There has been a production of Handel’s “Messiah” in Steamboat Springs, in some form, for almost 30 years.
“It began with just a choir at the Methodist church,” said Marie Carmichael, who prepared the 70- to 100-person chorus for this year’s “Messiah,” which will be performed at the Steamboat Christian Center on Saturday and Sunday.
“It was just a smaller event with an organist and the church choir, and it went like that for many, many years. It has gone through several permutations since then,” she said.
Those variations have involved orchestras of different sizes and a number of venues, but have always featured members of the community. This year’s production – a collaboration between the Community Chorus, Emerald City Opera, the Steamboat Springs Orchestra, Colorado Mountain College and the Steamboat Springs Arts Council – could be the most communal of all those, Carmichael said.
“This year is really amazing because we have all of the artistic organizations in the community cooperating,” she said. “It’s really probably the most widespread community participation. With 80 or 90 people singing and the full orchestra, it’s really a total community effort.”
The chorus, whose members come from all over Routt County, has been rehearsing with Carmichael since October. They’ll be joined for performances by guest soloists provided by Emerald City Opera, including Joyce El-Khoury (soprano), Kathryn Krasovec (mezzo-soprano), Jason Baldwin (tenor) and David Farwig (bass).
“This is the first year that the community of Steamboat has decided to do a professional version of the ‘Messiah,'” said Keri Rusthoi, the opera’s founder.
“Steamboat has been doing this for decades, but it’s always been a local thing. The only way to bring all the facets together is to do this sort of professional version and charge money,” she said.
Ernest Richardson, music director for Steamboat Springs Orchestra, said he has seen the community’s enthusiasm for putting on a grand-scale version of the “Messiah” since he joined the Steamboat arts community.
“There’s been a desire to have this happen for several years,” Richardson said.
“I remember when I was first appointed music director of the orchestra, one of the altos saw me in a clothing store around here buying a coat and said, ‘We’ve got to do the ‘Messiah’!” he said.
Carmichael said she is dedicating this year’s “Messiah” to Rusty Poulter, who directed the choir in the oratorio’s original Steamboat productions.
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