¤ Fourth annual Gambler's Ball to benefit Emerald City Opera
¤ 9 p.m. Sunday to 1 a.m. Monday
¤ Sheraton Steamboat Resort Grand Ballroom
¤ $70; tickets available at Steamboat Sheraton Resort, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., All That Jazz and online at www.emeraldcityop...>
Keri Rusthoi has been waiting four years to use a Monte Carlo theme for the Emerald City Opera's annual New Year's Eve Gambler's Ball.
"The reason why I wanted to do Monte Carlo is because there haven't been a whole lot of fabulous opportunities to dress up in this town. Tuxes and ball gowns was the original idea," said Rusthoi, the artistic director for Emerald City Opera. "And one of the reasons why Monte Carlo is so cool is because in Monte Carlo, the building the casino is in is the same building as the opera house."
Sunday's event will feature roulette, craps, blackjack and Texas hold 'em poker. There also will be a costume contest.
"The best-dressed lady with elbow-length gloves and a tiara will win two tickets to the Outstanding Artists Recital Series Concert on Feb. 7," Rusthoi said. "And whomever wins the most money at the end of the night will win a prize as well."
Each attendee, or gambler, is given $100 in gaming chips with their purchase of a $70 ticket to the event.
"You can buy more chips if you lose badly," Rusthoi said. "And a new thing we are doing this year is having a big tree with a bunch of numbered ornaments."
Ornaments can be purchased for $25, and each purchase guarantees a prize.
And while all the action is going on at the craps tables, an appetizer buffet should satisfy appetites, and there will be dessert and a champagne toast at the stroke of midnight.
Emerald City Opera has a lot to celebrate this year, Rusthoi said, particularly in light of a grant it received from the National Endowment for the Arts.
"We were fully funded at our grant request specifically for the purpose of bringing opera to an area that has no opera exposure - which is Northwest Colorado," Rusthoi said. "They remarked on the high artistic quality of what we produce, and there are opera aficionados that sit on this grant panel."
The other exciting news is that Adam Flatt has been named principal conductor. He will be responsible for artistic direction and will be part of the production team for the company's full-staged operas and will conduct performances each summer.
"Being a conductor of singers is very, very difficult. Not only is he a great vocal conductor, but he's a great orchestra conductor as well," Rusthoi said. "That is a hard combination to find."
Flatt has the personality to work with all levels of singers.
"We needed someone who can work with the great singers in the world and has to be able to work with and bring the best out of amateurs," Rusthoi said. "We have ranchers who just love to sing and show up to rehearsal with cow dung on their boots and hay in their hair, but have beautiful voices."
Emerald City Opera will perform "Madame Butterfly" next summer.
"It is one of the top three greatest operas ever written," Rusthoi said. "It will make you cry. It makes me cry every single time."