Opera Steamboat continues 20th season with Sondheim musical, performances

The cast of "Company" rehearses the musical, which will be performed August 5 and 6, 2022.
Opera Steamboat/Courtesy photo

Several performances and shows are in the works for Opera Steamboat in the coming weeks. 

Opera Steamboat is putting on its first-ever musical, a children’s opera, and more for its 20th season. A piano concert by Kristin Ditlow will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, July 29, at the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Ditlow is a respected pianist and conductor, and is also conducting another upcoming show for Opera Steamboat, “The Three Feathers.”

“She’s going to be playing at the library, which is really a treat for us to have her here,” said Jenny Maxwell, chair of Opera Steamboat’s board of trustees.

There will also be an Arias and Ensembles Concert for Opera Steamboat at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at the library as well.

“It’s a really neat event because you get to hear all of the artists at one time, and because they’re doing Arias and Ensembles, it is just a really nice mix of our favorites,” Maxwell said of the Saturday concert. “It’s pieces that people will be familiar with from operas just across the opera spectrum.”

Maxwell added that she was looking forward to the first musical ever put on by Opera Steamboat, “Company” by Stephen Sondheim. 

The show, which will be performed at 7 p.m. August 5 and 6 at the Steamboat Springs Middle School Auditorium, is directed by Thea Wigglesworth, civic practice and operations manager for Opera Steamboat.

“This is very much an educational program, which is really exciting,” Wigglesworth said. “So, for a lot of these singers, this is maybe their first musical, and then for others this is their 30th musical.”

Wigglesworth said the classic musical explores the themes of long-term adult relationships. It will also be an homage to Sondheim, who died late last year. 

“Folks should expect some really incredible harmonies, and beautiful musicianship,” she added. “They should also expect all the things that make us love and adore musicals — there are fantastic group dance numbers.” 

For younger audiences and adults alike, there will also be a production of “The Three Feathers,” an opera with music by Lori Laitman and libretto by Dana Gioia.

The story, based upon a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, follows the protagonist Princess Dora as she ventures between her world and the underworld, ruled by a Frog King.

The one-act show has a run-time of approximately 90 minutes. 

“It’s also kind of a combination of musical theater and opera,” she added. “There’s action that kids will like, there’s a sword fight and things like that.”

The show builds suspense, “getting more and more chaotic as Dora returns to the underworld three times,” Laitman said.

Laitman will be coming to Steamboat to see the show with her six-year-old grandson, who is especially fond of Princess Dora.

Gioia, lyricist for the show and former chairman for the National Endowment of the Arts, will also attend the show. He explained that it was a pleasure to work with Laitmen and create lyrics for her music.

“We wanted to create an opera, which would appeal in slightly different ways to both kids and adults,” Gioia said. “The kids watched it as an entertaining fairy tale, very exciting. Underneath that is the story about parenting children.”

“The Three Feathers” will be performed at 7 p.m. August 12 and 13 at Steamboat Springs Middle School.

Both productions include cast members from Opera Steamboat’s Opera Artist Institute, Maxwell explained. This is a program to help young artists gain experience in the industry, and 40% of participants this year are people of color. 

Maxwell emphasized that Opera Steamboat is seeking to make the arts more accessible — whether it be by providing opportunities for up-and-coming artists, or bringing the arts to communities outside of Steamboat.

“We’ve had concerts with our young artists in Hayden, and then we also have an upcoming concert in Oak Creek,” Maxwell said. “We want it to be where (people don’t have) to come to Steamboat to access the art, but we come to them.”

“Our mission statement is to enrich the well being of our community through innovative educational and collaborative musical arts programs,” she added.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.