Thursday, June 28, 2012

30th Anniversary Spotlight: Kelly Kaduce Returns!

Anyone fortunate enough to have witnessed Kelly Kaduce’s searing performance as Dvořák’s heroine Rusalka, in the 2011 season, and her heartbreaking "Song to the Moon," will be delighted to know that she will join us as a special guest for the 30th Anniversary Gala. Known throughout the opera world for her lyrically beautiful and intensely dramatic portrayals, Kelly literally becomes her characters on stage.

Married to operatic baritone Lee Gregory, who sang the role of Figaro in Opera Theatre of the Rockies’ production of The Barber of Seville immediately following OC’s Rusalka, Kelly juggles the superhuman demands of a busy operatic career, a new baby and a busy, traveling-and-singing husband! In between airports, rehearsal rooms (and diaper changes), Kelly kindly found a few moments to send us her thoughts on the latest developments in her life and on appearing in the Gala:

“Hello Opera Colorado! I am looking forward to returning this fall to sing with the lovely Cathy Cook on the 30th Anniversary Gala. I have very fond memories of being in Colorado last year to sing Rusalka while I was 6 months pregnant. I returned to the same production several months later in Montreal, but by then my baby was 6 months old! (Colin Lee Gregory was born only a few weeks after Kelly finished Rusalka in Denver.) Much to my relief, the costumes did get to be taken back in again rather than let out as they were to accommodate my growing belly. By the end of the production in Denver, I think the seams were almost ready to split! I couldn't have done one more show without a whole new set of costumes!

You have a very exciting upcoming season including the premiere of The Scarlet Letter! I wish I lived in Colorado so I could partake, but alas, my year is filled with international travel and two role debuts. A few days after the Gala concert in Colorado I am off to Australia to perform Madama Butterfly. I am particularly excited for this trip as it will be my first time Down Under. When I return I am singing Kevin Puts' new opera Silent Night which won the Pulitzer this year! This is a new opera for me and modern music always requires a bit more concentration to learn. I also have the chance to perform my first Liu in Turandot with Minnesota Opera. I will be thinking of you all in Colorado enjoying your fantastic season as I take "rear-end" breaks from the piano bench!

I look forward to seeing you all soon!”

By: Brad Trexell, Director of Artistic Operations

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You probably know more opera than you think...

Have you heard about Opera Colorado’s new education program, POPera? It’s geared towards elementary schools looking to expose their students to opera for the first time… or what the students think is the first time. The main objective of POPera is to make kids realize that even if they have never seen an opera before, they already have heard the music in TV shows, commercials, and movies.

My personal favorite POPera example is the Seinfeld episode when the gang gets tickets to Pagliacci and the opera’s story is played out in real life as Elaine’s boyfriend becomes obsessed with her and follows her to the theater in a clown outfit. Too bad this example wouldn’t fly with 7 year olds… Instead, I chose examples they would identify with immediately: scenes from Pixar’s UP, a Pepsi commercial with Beyonce singing her rendition of the “Habanera,” and, of course, Bugs Bunny.

Photo credit: YouTube

Then, our Young Artists sing the opera piece that the student saw in the clip.

Dustin Peterson, John Allen Nelson, and Chris Besch working with students during POPera at The Logan School

This program has proven to be an important piece to the puzzle for certain schools. Our last performance this season was at Fairview Elementary which has 93% free or reduced lunch rate and where most of the students come from Spanish speaking homes. POPera really helped introduce them to this art form in a way that I don’t think a Hansel & Gretel performance could have done. They were able to see commercials that they have already seen before but view them in a new light; they were able to interact with the singers, breaking the barrier between performer and audience; and they courageously acted and sang in front of their peers. My face hurt from smiling so much that day. The students were so responsive and engaged. We have already booked another POPera performance at Fairview Elementary in May 2013.

If you have some favorite examples of POPera that you would like to share, please leave a comment below.

By: Meghan Benedetto, Manager of Education & Community Programs

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Volunteers make it happen!

This blog post is in honor of everyone whose life includes volunteering for their favorite nonprofit(s).

Thank you simply isn't enough.

Opera Colorado recently honored our volunteers and awarded our annual Volunteer of the Year award. I was inspired to be around so many individuals who choose to support Opera Colorado and the overall performing arts community by giving us their time! Honored is truly an understatement.

This past season our development team introduced a donor relations table in the foyer of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House so that donors and potential donors had a place to go if they had questions regarding a donation or if they wanted to make a first-time donation. The table was consistently worked by volunteers. So was our brand-new merchandise area. Both of these setups were hugely successful and they would not have been so if it wasn't for our amazing volunteers.

And that is just the start of how valuable our volunteers are to Opera Colorado. From light walking to fundraising events to donor benefit events to supporting education programs and tours, the list could honestly go on and on.

Opera Colorado would not be as an amazing opera company as we are without out volunteers.

I recently once again thanked a volunteer who had been especially helpful to the development team this past season. Her response was "I should thank you for giving me the privilege of supporting Opera Colorado."

Enough said.

Thank you to all who volunteer at Opera Colorado. And for those who have considered volunteering but haven't yet for whatever reason, we could sure use your help for our 2013 Season!

Thank you for reading this post. Feel free to connect with me at

Dan Hanley, Director of Development, Opera Colorado

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Traveling to "The Scarlet Letter" design meeting in NJ

It’s Thursday morning the 14th of June at 3:00 a.m., and I’m up and ready to head to DIA. I’m traveling to NJ for the final major set design meeting for our World Premiere production of Lori Laitman’s The Scarlet Letter. I arrive at DIA at 4:15 a.m. for my flight to Newark. Who knew that all you can get is McDonald’s on B Concourse at that hour of the morning! Not a good start to my day…I must have my Starbuck’s!

However, my flight takes off on time. I recline my seat, adjust my Bose noise reducing headphones and I read through the libretto of The Scarlet Letter one more time.

I arrive at the Newark airport to be greeted by our set designer Erhard Rom and by 1:00 p.m. (EST) the complete design team has assembled at Erhard’s home, we’ve had a bite to eat and we get to work stepping through each scene of the opera, determining how the set would be used and what additional props and furniture might be needed. Ideas flow freely and we quickly realize our biggest challenge is creating effective scene changes without disturbing the flow of the music or drama.

Over the course of the afternoon, we set a specific look for each scene, determine how the playing space will be used by the cast and chorus, and how lighting and other effects might be used to heighten the drama of the music and story.

At 4:00 p.m. (EST) Erhard whisks the team back to the train station and me to the airport for a 6:30 p.m. flight back to Denver. After a forced landing in Oklahoma City to refuel the plane and one lane traffic on I70 through the construction zone, I get home at 11:45 p.m. (MST), more than 20 hours after I got up! It’s been a LONG day, but an exciting one. There’s nothing like seeing the birth of a new opera and a great design!

By: Greg Carpenter, General Director

Thursday, June 14, 2012

30th Anniversary Spotlight: Meet Catherine Cook

Mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook, unforgettable as the witch Ježibaba in 2011’s Rusalka, will be one of our special guest artists for the 30th Anniversary Gala on September 22nd, 2012, and will also sing the role of Mistress Hibbons in Opera Colorado’s 2013 professional world premiere of Lori Laitman’s The Scarlet Letter.

She specializes in dramatic and/or comedic featured mezzo roles. Her characters often have more fun in the opera than the tenor or soprano, who are often in the midst of ‘relationship troubles,’ poisonings or mad scenes! Cathy’s characters are often the ones who have placed the curse on the soprano’s love life and caused her mad scene!

As a child, Cathy wanted to be a mother and an actress when she grew up and so far her plan seems to be working out. She is currently the Chair of the Voice department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she has taught for the past 6 years. In addition to teaching Voice, she teaches an ‘Audition Workshop for Singers.’ She frequently appears with major opera companies around the United States, often with San Francisco Opera, where she has performed nearly 50 different roles and is currently recording David Garner's Spoon River Songs. She has made her home in San Francisco for over 20 years with her husband Hadj, and 2 children, Zach, 15, and Sonia, 8.

Having appeared in the premiere production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking at the San Francisco Opera as well as the premiere of Stewart Wallace's The Bonesetter's Daughter, she believes performing the music of living composers is vital to the progression of our art form:

“I am really looking forward to The Scarlet Letter at Opera Colorado, I have always been such a fan of Lori Laitman's songs---being a part of a new piece/production is so exciting. To work with the composer in the creative process is so rewarding, I cannot wait to work with Lori and the amazing cast, conductor and director, and to return to the wonderful Opera Colorado family!”

Welcome back, Cathy!

By: Brad Trexell, Director of Artistic Operations

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Magic Number = 35,647

35,647. Read that again. 35,647. Wow. That’s a big number. You’re intrigued, right? You’re wondering what 35,647 has to do with opera, right? Well, let me tell you...

Apart from the fabulous mainstage productions that Opera Colorado does each season, we have a thriving set of education programs. We’re quite proud of them. Each year, we take opera out into our schools, the community; basically anywhere that we can. Each year we keep track of what we do, where we do it and how many people we’re able to reach. That’s where this number comes in. During the 2011-2012 school year, we reached a total of 35,647 students and adults through our education programs. It’s amazing when you think about it. Go ahead, think about it. I’ll wait.

To us, that’s more than 35,000 individuals who have been exposed to opera, the majority of them for the very first time. It’s a lot of work. It takes a lot of time and resources. So, why we do it? The answer in two words; it’s important. Opera is important. It’s an art form that people need to know about and if the media is doing the teaching, their opinion will be skewed (think ladies in horned helmets and you’ll know what I mean, but that’s a blog for another day). Opera is part of our history. It’s part of our present. It’s an all-encompassing entertainment experience. Like that one? It took me awhile.

35,647. That’s just plain awesome.

By: Cherity Koepke, Director of Education & Community Programs

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Opera 101 - Learning about opera

My how time flies!

In April I celebrated one year as Director of Development here at Opera Colorado. I continue to be in bliss with the opportunity to fundraise for this incredible organization.

When I came on board I knew practically nothing about opera. I had been fortunate enough to attend two Opera Colorado gala's due to a friend being on the board, but regarding the art form of opera I knew nothing.

As I have met hundreds of supporters of Opera Colorado, I realize that I am not alone. Almost every day I speak with someone who feels they know nothing about opera, or feels intimidated being around educated opera folks.

I can relate. And this is what I have done.

In the last year I have bought over 10 books about opera. My favorites are "Opera 101" by Fred Plotkin, "Getting Opera" by Matt Dobkin and "Ticket to the Opera" by Phil Goulding. has all of these available, many used editions that cost very little.

I also went to see a DU student presentation of Faust which I thoroughly enjoyed and added to my education of opera. This summer I'll be seeing Cosi Fan Tutte in St. Louis and La Rondine in Des Moines.

Lastly, there are several blogs out there as well as a lot of great information on Opera America's website:

There is so much to learn. And I need to continually remind myself that learning about opera is a process, not an event. It takes time. For me, it's been totally worth it.

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Creating "The Scarlet Letter"

Many people do not realize the immense amount of detail work required to create a new production of a standard piece of repertoire let alone build a production of a brand new opera that has never been heard. Last Friday, we flew The Scarlet Letter set and costume designers to Denver for a final design meeting.

Set designer Erhard Rom made a full presentation of the set he has created for our production, sharing with us sketches of the set along with preliminary construction drawings. The set consists of two angular walls which pivot to create the closed, repressed environment of a Puritan meeting house or open space for outdoor scenes. With the set design solidified, we can now take the construction drawings and begin to bid out the set construction to ensure that it comes within our established budget. If not, value engineering takes place.

Costume designer Terese Wadden shared with us her well thought out costume designs as well. We wanted costumes that hinted at Puritan society but did not become a caricature of Puritans sitting around the Thanksgiving table. Terese’s designs take their inspiration from the traditional austerity of Amish and Mennonite dress, with women in simple black or grey dresses and men in traditional black suits and broad brimmed hats.

It is truly exciting to see this World Premiere production begin to come together after more than a year of planning and discussions with Lori Laitman the composer, Beth Greenberg the director, and our wonderful design team.

By: Greg Carpenter, General Director