Bass-baritone singer Derrick Ballard with Steamboat Springs resident Michelle Hess in Emerald City Opera's 2006 production of "Letters for Mozart." Ballard returns to Steamboat for the first time since that production with a recital at 7 p.m. today.

Art Dana/courtesy

Bass-baritone singer Derrick Ballard with Steamboat Springs resident Michelle Hess in Emerald City Opera's 2006 production of "Letters for Mozart." Ballard returns to Steamboat for the first time since that production with a recital at 7 p.m. today.

Opera star returns for recital

Derrick Ballard to perform in 3rd Emerald City production

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If you go

What: Bass-baritone opera singer Derrick Ballard, performing as part of Emerald City Opera's Outstanding Artists Recital Series

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Home of Jeff and Jean Wolf, 32120 Routt County Road 14C, Lake Catamount

Cost: $20 for adults, $10 for students; tickets available at the door, or in advance at All That Jazz

Call: Emerald City Opera at 879-1996 or All That Jazz at 879-4422

— Colorado native Derrick Ballard always knew he wanted music to be a part of his life.

The summer before he started college, Ballard - who had a deep baritone singing voice - saw the opera "Faust." That work features a bass-baritone part. Ballard was hooked.

Since then, he has made a career out of singing operatic works, performing in two productions with the Steamboat Springs-based Emerald City Opera and taking a full-time position with the Staatstheater Kassel in Germany.

Tonight, Ballard returns to Colorado to perform some of his favorite opera, musical theater and art songs in an Outstanding Artists Recital presented by Emerald City Opera. The concert starts at 7 p.m. at the Lake Catamount home of Jeff and Jean Wolf. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and are available in advance at All That Jazz or at the concert door.

The concert will be the first time Ballard has been in Steamboat since his performance in Emerald City Opera's 2006 production of "Letters for Mozart." Ballard also appeared in the company's 2005 production of "The Merry Widow." He said he's looking forward to a trip back to the Yampa Valley.

"Steamboat is so beautiful, and the people there are so nice. I just really enjoy my time there," Ballard said. "It's a very relaxing and also very musical experience."

Ballard said he plans to make a connection with his audience by explaining song selections, especially those sung in languages that aren't English. The concert program includes excerpts from "Old American Songs" by Aaron Copland, as well as songs from musical theater and a nod to Ballard's German residence with "Swan Song" by Franz Schubert.

"You don't want to do a whole program of things that are slow, and you don't want to do a whole program of things that are fast," Ballard said about his song selection. "One of the most important things is making a connection with your audience," because the more they know about the pieces, the more they can understand, he said.

Keri Rusthoi, founder and artistic director for Emerald City Opera, said she is looking forward to working with Ballard again.

"I just had so much fun when he was part of 'Merry Widow' - he was just so hilarious," Rusthoi said. "And in Steamboat, opera is a hard sell, so it's great to have light and fun stuff."

Tickets can be reserved by e-mail and paid for with a credit card through the Emerald City Opera office. Tickets at the door are available for cash or check only.

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