Young opera troupe performs in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Young opera troupe performs in Steamboat

Week-long program seeks to introduce young people to the art form

Kari Dequine Harden/For Steamboat Today

— Capping off a week of performances at three Routt County schools, Opera Colorado's Young Artists will present an Arias & Ensembles concert at 7 p.m. Friday at Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs.

Hosted by Opera Steamboat (formerly Emerald City Opera), the troupe of five up-and-coming opera singers will perform a diverse selection, highlighting operatic and musical theater repertoire.

The setting, without costumes or a stage dressing, will give the audience greater interaction, a sense of the process, additional context about what the pieces are and where they come from and provide a more intimate experience, said Beth Blaskovich, Opera Steamboat's administration and development coordinator.

Following the concert, there will be a Q&A session. The "wonderful group of artists," which also includes a director and pianist, hail from San Francisco to Boston and provide a chance for both opera aficionados and those new to opera to get a sampling of a variety of pieces in different arrangements from the emerging young singers, said Opera Steamboat’s artistic director Andres Cladera.

Blaskovich called the partnership between Opera Colorado and Opera Steamboat perfect, especially with the education component of this week's visit.

"Music and art are such a vital component of education," she said. "And as an arts organization, (it’s) a big part of our mission and responsibility toward the community."

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On Wednesday, the Young Artists performed “The Barber of Seville” for South Routt School District students in Oak Creek, and Thursday and Friday, they performed “The Elixir of Love,” first in Hayden, then in Steamboat.

After the semi-staged and costumed performances, students had the chance to ask the vocalists questions, such as, "How do you sing so loud without a microphone?" or "Is it OK to kiss onstage?"

Cladera said the operas were modified to help the younger audience better understand and connect. The three-hour shows were trimmed to less than an hour in length, performed in English and carefully selected for suitability.

But they also are intended to introduce students to the bigger themes, Cladera said, illustrating the "challenging and different situations human beings go through."

Teachers were also given some "Beginner's Guide to Opera" material and activities ahead of the show, introducing students to the art form.

Blaskovich, responding to the question, “What is opera?” described opera as “stories in song — a storyline put to life with music and vocals."

She noted opera can have an air of intimidation and folklore, but added it is both traditional and contemporary and "suspenseful, provocative, and edgy. It's so much more than we give it credit for."

Last year, Opera Steamboat brought a show to one school, and looking forward, Blaskovich and Cladera said they are eager to expand the number of operas performed and the geographical reach across Northwestern Colorado, and they want more schools to participate.

Cladera called arts education essential and "at the core of what we do."

As to the rebranding of Opera Steamboat from Emerald City Opera, Blaskovich described the change as one driven by positive growth and a desire to more closely identify the group with its location.

"We are growing and evolving and celebrating our 15th year," she said. "We are proud to be in Steamboat."

Arias & Ensembles takes place at 7 p.m. Friday, March 24 at Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children and students. To reserve tickets, visit emeraldcityopera.com.

If you go:

What: “Arias & Ensembles” concert performed by Opera Colorado’s Young Artists

When: 7 p.m. Friday, March 24

Where: Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave.

Information: Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. For information, visit emeraldcityopera.com.

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