Central City Opera
A previous article highlighting the 2011 Central City Opera season appeared in the spring of 2011. This year, for the 2012 season, the operas include the Turn of the Screw, Oklahoma, and La Bohème. On Friday, July 13, my husband and I took the chance to see the last two afore mentioned productions in one day.
We left Fort Collins in time to attend Oklahoma’s Opera Notes in the Williams Stables across the street from the Tabor Opera House. Opera Notes take place about 40 minutes before the show times of 2:30 and 8 p.m.
Director Ken Cazan presented information about the opera, staging, and performers. The script, developed from the book, Green Grow the Lilacs, fits the category of “book musical” rather than opera. Unlike a completely sung opera, a book musical integrates songs and dances within the story to provide drama that evokes genuine emotions and maybe even laughter. Cazan’s talk included some Oklahoma history and information about the 1943 time period when the original play opened. He also explained the problems of set design for the small stage, which in this production holds up to 40 performers at a time.
Besides the wonderful leads of Maureen McKay (Laurey) and Matthew Worth (Curly), the very handsome Paul LaRosa (Jud Fry) convinced the audience of his evilness with predator type movements, glowering facial expressions, and his masculinity. Loud sound effects accentuated the realistic fight scenes. Curt Olds (Will Parker), Joyce Castle (Ado Annie), and Gene Scheer (Ali Hakim) kept the audience laughing.
To add stage space, the show opened with Curly singing from the back of the audience as he slowly made his way down the aisle. Other performers followed the same pattern throughout the production (entering from the audience). Casting for this show proved outstanding. It is hard to single out any one great performer because each played their part exceptionally well.
Superb voices, great acting, and, best of all, well choreographed, high energy dance numbers made for one of the best Oklahoma productions I’ve ever attended. Perhaps my enjoyment related to my love for the movie, which this production seemed to follow.
After a leisurely dinner at Century Casino’s Mid City Grill, we attended Opera Notes for La Bohème. The director explained how the 1930s setting and stage design, rather than the often elaborate production placed in the 1840s, spared the opera company the high costs of costumes and sets.
The stage setting, in a matter of three hours, changed from summer in Oklahoma territory to a winter snowstorm in a poor, reconstruction period of war torn Paris. At one time, a bevy of children filled the stage. Again, performers, voices and acting expressed the characters emotions in this drama of love and loss exceptionally well.
Both productions are worth the trip to Central City. However, on Sunday, August 5, and Tuesday, August 7, special performances of Oklahoma will take place at the Newman Center on the campus of Denver University. For more information, please log onto http://www.centralcityopera.org. Hopefully tickets are still available.
Seats in the Tabor Opera House list names of past donors, patrons, and performers. At intermission, we checked the names on our seats. My husband occupied one named for Henry M. Teller, one of the most famous men to ever live in Central City. My chair boasted the name of Harrietta Mabee, of whom I’ve found no information.