Colorado cast combines modernity and Mozart in Loveland opera

Performers from across Colorado travel to Loveland for “Così fan tutte”

Casey Van Divier
caseyvandivier@yahoo.com
Posted 2/20/19

When conductor Adam Torres drives to work, the commute from his home in Broomfield to the Loveland Opera Theatre takes about 50 minutes. But where some may find tedium in driving this commute four …

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Colorado cast combines modernity and Mozart in Loveland opera

Performers from across Colorado travel to Loveland for “Così fan tutte”

Posted

When conductor Adam Torres drives to work, the commute from his home in Broomfield to the Loveland Opera Theatre takes about 50 minutes. But where some may find tedium in driving this commute four days a week, Torres considers it a short trip, given his line of work.

“Later this summer I’ll be doing an opera festival in Vermont, so comparatively, Loveland is just down the road,” he said. “In the grand scheme, driving’s just part of the gig.”

Torres is hardly the only employee of Loveland Opera Theatre who drives nearly an hour or more just to get to work every day. The Rialto Theater at 228 E. Fourth St. is home to cast and crew members from towns all across the state, including six of 51 staff members from Westminster.

The theater, which puts on one opera every year, will be opening its production of Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” on Feb. 22. The cast and crew consist exclusively of Colorado residents, setting Loveland Opera Theatre apart from many of its counterparts.

This is a highlight for Westminster singer Phoenix Gayles, who, having performed in local shows and shows overseas, knows the value of working close to home.

“It just gives the up-and-coming stars a chance to get big things under their belt before they go out into the world, without having the added feature of travel costs,” said Gayles, who plays Fiordiligi in the show.

Her castmate, Arvada resident Anna Piper, agreed. Though this is just the second opera she’s performed in, the camaraderie between the entirely Coloradan cast has made her feel right at home.

“It’s so welcoming. Even as a newcomer last year, it was easy to work alongside the pros and feel equal to them,” Piper said.

For Torres, Gayles and Piper, Colorado represents a somewhat unique hub of smaller opera companies and the numerous opportunities that come with them.

“People would be surprised just how many opera artists we have in Colorado,” said director Tim Kennedy, who moved to Westminster 11 years ago.

“Actually, it’s really not the best place to live if you’re a singer, because the high altitude makes breathing a little harder,” he added, “but I think the artists here love it because of how supportive people are of the arts.”

He added that the state has a particularly high number of small opera companies scattered around the Denver metro area, including Loveland Opera Theatre, Opera Fort Collins and Boulder Opera Company. Many of the performers in Kennedy’s show have not only performed at all of these companies, but have performed at them together.

“When you’re doing local gigs, there are definitely friends you will work with again,” Dana Kinney said. Another Westminster resident, Kinney plays Dorabella in the show.

“It’s always really exciting to be like `wow, this is sounding great in your voice,’” she said. “There’s definitely a support system there.”

Connecting with a modern audience

Having rehearsed 14 hours a week since the beginning of January, each member of the production staff is ready to finally bring their favorite elements of the show to life.

For Torres, one of the highlights of the show is that, though written in 1789, the daily lives of the characters draw some surprising similarities to modern life—from the way the characters gossip about one another to the way they neglect to read terms and conditions.

“It’s amazing how an opera that was written hundreds of years ago can still have significant cultural relevance today,” Torres said. “You know, some things never change.”

Meanwhile, as the show’s director, Kennedy is most anticipating using this classic opera to help a 2019 audience connect with the operatic world.

“It’s very important that we work to make opera accessible for people,” he said. “One of my challenges was finding balance between how I put on the art form, but also reach out to a new audience.”

One way through which Kennedy and the theater achieve this goal is “Così fan tutte for Kids,” a Saturday matinee of the show tailored for children and families. A Loveland Opera Theatre tradition, this version of the opera runs for a shorter period of time, includes a Q&A with the staff and invites children to perform one of the show’s scenes alongside cast members.

After participating in this event last year, Piper reflected on the children’s show as a particularly meaningful moment for her.

“It’s really neat because there are so many kids who take that opportunity to come on stage,” she said. “It’s really cool to see that ignite this love for the theater.”

Regardless of one’s age or experience with opera, cast members all agreed that this production of “Così fan tutte” — which combines classical music, vivid costumes and French impressionist paintings — has something for everyone.

“If you’ve never seen an opera before, this is definitely one of the top ones to introduce you to this world,” Gayles said. “There’s just so much going on and so much to see.”

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