Steamboat Living: 5 minutes with … Opera Steamboat Artistic Director Andres Cladera | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Living: 5 minutes with … Opera Steamboat Artistic Director Andres Cladera

Formerly known as Emerald City Opera, Opera Steamboat celebrates its 15th anniversary and its third season under director Andres Cladera in 2017.

An opera singer since age 7 in Uruguay, Cladera casts productions, directs such education programs as the Opera Artist Institute, which this year expects 35 graduates, and assists in production management, fundraising and public relations. With conducting experience with Opera Colorado, Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, Edgewood Symphony and more, he holds a Masters in Orchestral Conducting from Carnegie Mellon University and received 2007's Outstanding Young Conductor award from Choral Directors of America. We caught up with him for his take on singing in Steamboat Springs.

When did you first visit Steamboat?

My first visit here was 15 years ago. I was visiting Paonia, where my friend’s dad has a small winery, and we visited Steamboat and Strawberry Park Hot Springs on the way. While soaking, I said I'd love to do an opera in the springs sometime — a dream that came true last year when we presented "Dido and Aeneas" at the springs during our festival.

What do you like about it?

I love Steamboat's natural setting in the mountains. But its true treasure is the community. It's incredibly welcoming and relaxed, and people really value and support the arts, in particular opera.

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What's your take on Steamboat's cultural scene?

It is certainly expanding and getting the recognition it deserves. Personally, I'm investing a lot of time with the Opera Steamboat team — Beth Blaskovich and Jack Dysart — to create opera that enriches the lives of everyone in the community and attracts people from around the country to experience the unique, innovative creations we present.

What do you like about Opera Steamboat?

I love that we're able to bring stars from all over the country and students from all over the world. Our lead performers have great international reputations in opera. We gather every summer for creative, unique operatic experiences that no one can witness anywhere else. It's created for the Steamboat community exclusively.

How is it different from other operas?

It allows me complete artistic liberty to program and create operas we're really passionate about. We focus on bringing young people and families with their kids to our performances. For the past three years, we've presented a kid’s opera every season: "The Child and the Spells," "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and this year "The Enchanted Pig."

What are you looking forward to this season?

Our main concert: "Cavalleria Rusticana" (Italian traditional opera). To experience the grand aspect of opera, this is the event to see. It will be at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Steamboat Christian Center. It will have a 30-piece orchestra with international stars, soprano Alexandra Lobianco, recently seen at Florida Grand Opera, and tenor Jonathan Burton, recently seen at English National Opera.

What else do you like to do while you're here?

Believe it or not, I play flag football and love to rock climb. As far as skiing, I am ashamed to say I don’t know how, so if anyone wants to teach me, I'm game.