Central City: Sample Opera in Small Bites

Opera is one of those things — those things you wish you knew more about but don’t.

Some (I?) wish we knew more about our town’s sports team, or the latest episode of the hit show everyone talks about at the office each morning. I might wish I knew, but am not willing to put in the effort.

I do know about opera, but many do not. Fortunately, Colorado’s acclaimed Central City Opera has made opera user-friendly, with its progressive ways of introducing it to new audiences. The 2011 summer season, for example, offered a “small-bite approach,” somewhat akin to the latest rage of tapas (small plates) dining. This gorgeous grande dame of an opera house presents short operas, one, two or three at a time, to those who aren’t quite ready to saddle up for a long ride of a two- or three-hour operatic journey.

Central City Opera's THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS (2011)

The drive from central Denver to the old silver mining town of Central City — now better known to many as a gambling site — takes about an hour and a half. The opera house, a National Historic Landmark dating from 1878, is still intact and beautifully so, with its ornate fixtures, frescoed ceiling and walls, and marvelous acoustics. The opera attracts top-flight talent from around the world and always offers a varied, exciting fare to its summer festival attendees. The Central City Opera only presents in the summertime, but does offer other educational, social and community events during the rest of the year.

Another “small bite” of opera is presented by The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, a rigorous and elite 10-week program designed to professionally develop young singers. The program selects some 30 participants from more than 800 applicants each year. Integrating daily training in diction and movement and individual coaching, along with rehearsals and performances, the program offers its Short Works/Lunch and a Song on several afternoons in the summer season. Highlighting beloved operatic scenes, the short works are 30-minute performances shown before regularly scheduled matinees of the Summer Festival season. They are an excellent way to see some of the opera stars of tomorrow.

With its 2011 season, the innovative Central City Opera debuted various programs, such as Jazz Brunches, a Chamber Music Series and family events such as Central City Days. Always striving to introduce the joys of opera to the uninitiated (young and/or old,) the Central City Opera even brought its summer signature opera, “Carmen,” to the Denver area at the Comfort Dental Amphitheatre in Englewood.

The 2012 lineup, opening June 30, consists of “Oklahoma,” “The Turn of the Screw” and “La Boheme,” keeping in line with the festival’s tradition of presenting one opera classic, one American piece and one newer, lesser-known piece.

The Central City Opera is dedicated to making opera friendly and comfortable for diverse audiences and populations. This can be your father’s opera house, but it just might be your opera house, or your kids’ opera house, as well.

If You Go

Central City Opera House
124 Eureka St.
Central City, Colorado 80427

Individual tickets range from $30 to $105 based on seating. Ticket subscriptions for multiple shows start at $42. Tickets may be purchased through the Opera House website, by calling 303-292-6700 or at the box office in Denver at 400 S. Colorado Blvd., Suite 525.