Steamboat’s Emerald City Opera celebrates 10th anniversary |

Steamboat’s Emerald City Opera celebrates 10th anniversary

Nicole Inglis

Morgan Smith rehearses a scene along with Keri Rusthoi and Tamara Ryan at the Depot Art Center for an upcoming performance. The Emerald City Opera promotes professional opera in Northwest Colorado and is currently hosting the Opera Artist Institute.

— When Keri Rusthoi was 10 years old, "The Marriage of Figaro" was the very first opera she laid eyes on.

Now a professional soprano, Rusthoi's dream of staging the Mozart opera is coming true.

For the 10th anniversary of the Emerald City Opera, which she founded in 2002, Rusthoi and several professional singers from across the country will stage the comedic opera in full — with costumes, choreography and English supertitles to translate the lilting Italian arias.

Ten years ago, Rusthoi said she had zero idea where the opera company would be these days in Steamboat Springs, or that it would be successful at all.

"I love it, the community loves it and it brings something special to our town," she said. "There are very few towns our size in the world that have a professional opera company. It's a miracle, really, and I would never want to lose that momentum."

And the opera company is showing no signs of slowing down for its 10th birthday.

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This Friday, the singers taking part in the Opera Artist Institute will perform selected opera scenes at 7 p.m. at the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs.

"Figaro" will be performed Aug. 17 and 19 at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp's Julie Harris Theater.

A 10th anniversary concert also will take place next week at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Strings Music Pavilion.

Kicking off the 2012 All Arts Festival weekend, the concert will feature Broadway and opera favorites as well a world premiere.

"An 'All Arts Festival’ is a natural fit for opera," Rusthoi said. "It's done nothing but help us and support our growth. Opera as a medium requires the most collaboration among the art forms. It's theater, it's art, it's singing, it's dancing.

"It's the most expensive hobby on the planet."

This year, New York Metropolitan Opera singer Keith Miller is returning to Steamboat for his fifth year in Emerald City Opera.

The former University of Colorado and professional football player said he relishes the opportunity to perform the title role in "The Marriage of Figaro" in the beauty and the safe artistic environment of Steamboat Springs.

He said that as long as opera is happening, it doesn't matter if it's New York City or Strawberry Park.

"Opera is very rare," Miller said. "Opera is expensive, and there's so many reasons why it can't be done. But there's a need for it, and people understand what happens here is important. As a culture, 200 years ago, this would not be uncommon. You're carrying the torch of that culture."

Also returning this year is Sandra Piques-Eddy, who starred in "Carmen" in 2010.

"It's Mozart in the mountains with friends," she said simply about the reason for her return. Piques-Eddy has starred in Met productions as well as in prominent companies across the country. "I think the music is a gem. Audience members are going to love it whether they've seen opera before or if they're just getting into it."

As for the next 10 years, Rusthoi said she will be looking to build on the strength of this year's productions.

"We've stretched ourselves this 10th anniversary in a lot of ways," Rusthoi said. "I feel like we might do a little bit of breathing room next year. We've got some fun and different things planned for next year."

But among the Opera Artist Institute developing young singers, the concerts and the full stage production of the first opera she ever saw, it's all come full circle for Rusthoi.

"To be able to do 'Figaro' for our 10th is very, very satisfying."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

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