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Opera Steamboat offers free live concert at Yampa River Botanic Park

Operatic tenor Ben Gulley will headline a pair of free live concerts at the Yampa River Botanic Park on Aug. 12 and 13 hosted by Opera Steamboat.
Opera Steamboat/Courtesy

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The last time opera singer Ben Gulley performed in front of an audience was Feb. 16. After a six-month break, Opera Steamboat is bringing Gulley to the Yampa River Botanic Park for a pair of concerts next week featuring Steamboat Symphony Orchestra players. 

In a world where in-person events and live music are now rare due to a global pandemic, Gully is thrilled to be able to sing in front of actual faces rather than screens.

“I’m so excited,” he said. “It’s like water in the desert.”

Gulley and a quartet of musicians are playing free concerts at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13 on the Yampa River Botanic Park green. The first show is sold out, but there is still space to register for the free show Aug. 13. 

“We could have chosen to put a high ticket price on this event because of the limits to capacity,” said Andres Cladera, the general and artistic director at Opera Steamboat. “But we wanted to open it up to our entire community to really reinforce the fact that opera is for everybody, and everybody is welcome to enjoy Ben’s beautiful singing.”

Opera Steamboat is asking for donations, which can be made at operasteamboat.org/support.

Those attending will be divided into 22 pods that are separated by 6 feet. Each pod will be limited to household units of four people. Masks are required throughout the evening. 

If you go

What: Concert in the Park with Ben
When: Aug. 12 & 13, 7 p.m.
Where: Yampa River Botanic Park, 1000 Pamela Lane
Tickets: Free with registration

Gulley has been to Steamboat Springs before, playing the Prince in “Rusalka” during Opera Steamboat’s 2019 season. Cladera will accompany Gulley on the piano, with Anna Roder on violin, Teresa Steffen on viola and Elissa Greene on the cello. 

Gulley also will treat the audience to some pop songs with accompaniment on his ukelele. Cladera said there will also be some musical theater. He hopes live music can provide a beacon of hope and a reminder that life will someday return to normal.

“People are really craving that feeling to hear live music and feel the expression of the musician or singer,” Cladera said. “It’s going to be a wonderful experience.”

Gulley is looking forward to performing in front of people, again, too, since he’s been limited to singing to a screen for a few months.

“I don’t know if I’m paraphrasing … but I keep hearing the phrase, ‘Music will always find a way to be heard.’ It really does. That’s kind of a beautiful trait,” he said. “As beautiful as the livestreams are, it doesn’t replace that feeling of seeing with the eyes, breathing that mountain air together and hearing the sounds, not from the speakers in your living room, but outside from an actual instrument. I don’t think anything can replace the real thing.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.


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