Opera Steamboat brings Mozart’s ‘The Impresario’ to town
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Back in 1786, Habsburg Emperor Joseph II set up a public opera competition that would match Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart against his musical foe Antonio Salieri, the court’s official composer. While historians say Mozart’s “The Impresario” may have lost the contest of “wit and music” during the Vienna face-off so long ago, it is Mozart’s music that is still entertaining audiences two centuries later.
Now, Opera Steamboat will be hosting the infamous opera with the help of young aspiring opera singers from Fort Collins.
“It’s about a producer for an opera company who has gotten so sick of working with divas whose egos are bigger than their heads,” said baritone Colin Williamson, one of the guest opera singers from the Young Artists of Opera Fort Collins. “He’s fed up with opera and singers, and it’s a very comedic way of poking fun at ourselves.”
What: “The Impresario” opera
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21
Where: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 846 Oak St.
Tickets: $20 for adults; $5 for youth
Williamson is thrilled to be working with Opera Steamboat and its artistic director Andres Cladera. “The Impresario” is part of a week-long outreach where Routt County students and the public are exposed to opera — many for the first time.
Cladera said everyone is invited to the performance at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
“It’s a short opera. People will be in and out of there in less than an hour,” Cladera said. “It’s Mozart — a comedy; fun and lighthearted — and we’re doing it in English, so it’s super easy for people to understand the opera as well.”
Williamson was first exposed to opera at age 18 but didn’t really get into it until he was 24.
“When I’m up on stage and singing and in character and swept up in the moment … it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world,” he said.
Now age 30, Williamson is considered a young performer in the opera world where a career can last 50 years. He says Opera Steamboat’s outreach is a way to hook young people, who never would have experienced it otherwise.
As for the original opera contest 233 years ago, Mozart’s nemesis, Antonio Salieri, wrote his short opera mocking Mozart and his favorite librettist, or lyric writer. It was performed after “The Impresario,” and according to the Mozart.com website, the Vienna audience, always up for gossip and court intrigue, went wild with applause.
Still, the last laugh belongs to Mozart. According to noted music history professor Katherine Baber of the University of The Redlands, “The Impresario Overture” remains a “staple of symphonic concerts” around the world.
“The Impresario” opera will be performed for the public Thursday night at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Steamboat Springs at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for youth.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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