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February 23, 2012


Denver, Colo.- The show-stopping line up of internationally renowned artists has been selected for Central City Opera's (CCO) 2012 Festival, which also marks the organization's 80th anniversary. Running June 30 to Aug. 12, the Festival offers a wide range of selections with something for everyone, including three new productions of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's musical theater classic, Oklahoma!; Puccini's famous opera, La bohème, and Benjamin Britten's ghostly The Turn of the Screw. A full cast list for each of the 2012 productions is located at the end of this release.

Oklahoma! (June 30 - Aug. 11) - The 2012 Festival opens with a new production of the Broadway classic Oklahoma! by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Considered to be the "first great American musical," this piece launched the remarkable songwriting collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Oklahoma! is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, two Academy Awards, a Grammy and a special Tony Award, among many others. Based on the 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs, Oklahoma! ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances after its original opening in 1943. Set at the turn of the 20th century in the Oklahoma territory, Oklahoma! is the cherished love story of Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, an endearing yet independent farm girl. Featuring favorite numbers like "People Will Say We're In Love", "Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'", and "Surrey With the Fringe On Top", this musical has won the hearts of people time and time again. Oklahoma! will be performed in English.

Performing Artists

Christopher Zemliauskas returns to Central City Opera to conduct Oklahoma! Currently the Assistant Musical Director of the Opera Program at CU Boulder, Mr. Zemliauskas was the Associate Conductor and Chorus Master for Central City Opera from 2004-2008. He made his debut as a conductor with the company leading A Little Night Music in 2009 and most recently conducted five performances of Carmen last summer. He has also been on the music staff with Minnesota Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera Colorado, and Indianapolis Opera.

Touted as a detailed actor with a natural stage presence, soprano Maureen McKay* makes her CCO debut as the fun-loving farm girl, Laurey Williams. Ms. McKay has been praised for her performances with opera companies throughout the U.S. and abroad including her recent performances as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel with the Metropolitan Opera, as Blanche in Dialogues des carmélites and Musetta in La bohème with Komische Oper Berlin and Eurydice with Opera Company of Philadelphia. Ms. McKay is also at home with a wide range of roles from opera to musical theater including Laurie in The Tender Land, Johanna in Sweeney Todd and Anne in A Little Night Music. Ms. McKay is joined by baritone Matthew Worth who performs as the male lead of Curly McLain. Worth, who made his Central City Opera debut in 2010 as Jupiter in Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, has been hailed by the New York Times for a voice that is "fully powered and persuasively expressive". Recent performances include the role of Charlie in Jake Heggie's Three Decembers at Chicago Opera Theater, Mercutio in Romeo et Juliette with New Orleans Opera, and Valentin in Gounod's Faust with the Santa Fe Opera. This season, Mr. Worth will make his debuts with Lyric Opera of Chicago Opera Memphis, and Minnesota Opera. Baritone Curt Olds returns as Will Parker after his most recent appearance with the company as John Styx in 2010's Orpheus in the Underworld. A former Studio and Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera, Mr. Olds now enjoys a career in both opera and musical theatre having performed in the original German production of Cats, on Broadway in Riverdance, as well as with Arizona Opera, Edmonton Opera and Hawaii Opera Theatre, to name a few. Making his CCO debut in the role of the villainous Jud Fry, Paul LaRosa* is in his final year as a member of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. A graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center, Mr. LaRosa appeared there in diverse roles from Ford in Verdi's Falstaff to Rambo in Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer. Other performances include Papageno in Die Zauberflöte and Kuligin in Kátya Kabanová with the Lyric Opera of Chicago; and Rambo/ Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Following his most recent role as Lutz in the 2004 production of The Student Prince, Gene Scheer returns to CCO to play the role of Persian peddler Ali Hakim. In addition to his appearances as a performer, Mr. Scheer is acclaimed for his music and lyrics. He has collaborated often with composer Jake Heggie, including the critically acclaimed 2010 Dallas Opera world premiere, Moby-Dick; Three Decembers performed at Central City Opera in 2010; and the lyric drama To Hell and Back, featuring Patti LuPone. Mr. Scheer also worked as librettist with Tobias Picker on the 2005 Metropolitan Opera premiere of An American Tragedy. A composer in his own right, he has written pieces for singers such as Renée Fleming, Sylvia McNair, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Larmore, Denyce Graves and Nathan Gunn.

A CCO veteran, mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle returns to Central City Opera in the role of the feisty Aunt Eller after notable appearances as Madeline in Three Decembers, Augusta in 2006's The Ballad of Baby Doe, Elizabeth in the North American premiere of Britten's Gloriana, and Madama de Croissy in Les Dialogues des carmélites. An extraordinarily versatile artist, Ms. Castle has an extensive repertoire of nearly 140 roles from Strauss and Wagner to Bernstein and Sondheim. She has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Berkshire Opera, Washington National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and many more. Bass-baritone Donald Hartmann* makes his CCO debut as Ado Annie's gun-wielding father, Andrew Carnes. Considered one of the best character singers on the opera stage, some of his recent engagements include Dr. Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Delaware; Sergeant in Pirates of Penzance with Opera Carolina; and Frank in Die Fledermaus with Piedmont Opera. Mezzo-soprano Kaitlyn Costello* makes her professional Central City Opera debut as Ado Annie. A 2011 CCO Apprentice Artist, Ms. Costello has recently performed as Meg Page in Falstaff with the Manhattan School of Music; and Nicklausse in Les Contes d'Hoffmann with Georgia State Productions

Artists in CCO's Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, celebrating 34 years in 2012, round out the remainder of the cast. Mezzo-soprano Erin Greene plays Gertie Cummings, while baritone Nathan Milholin takes on the role of Ike Skidmore. Baritone Andrew Lovato plays the role of Cord Elam, and soprano Alisa Jordheim plays Ellen. Stephen Carroll takes on the role of Fred, soprano Claire Kuttler plays Virginia, mezzo-soprano Monica Soto-Gil plays Kate and soprano Catherine O'Rourke plays Vivian. Company members of Ballet Nouveau Colorado will perform as dancers in this new production of Oklahoma!.

Production Team

The director of last summer's three one acts, Ken Cazan returns to CCO to direct Oklahoma! after his other recent credits with the company of 2010's Three Decembers, A Little Night Music in 2009 and the sold-out West Side Story in 2008. Resident Stage Director for the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, Mr. Cazan is one of America's most sought-after directors, having staged more than 100 productions for more than 40 opera companies. Daniel Pelzig, choreographer and director of CCO's Carmen in 2011 and choreographer of West Side Story in 2008, will choreograph Oklahoma!. Having worked often with companies across the country such as the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera and Houston Grand Opera, Mr. Pelzig is also a director at ABC Television. For theater companies on Broadway, he has choreographed 33 Variations at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and A Year with Frog and Toad at the Cort Theatre. Alan E. Muraoka* makes his CCO debut as the Scenic Designer for Oklahoma!. In his twenty-year career, Mr. Muraoka has designed for theater, opera, television, and film, where he has been up for two Emmy nominations and three Art Director's Guild Award nominations as a production designer and art director. Mr. Muraoka's opera credits include critically acclaimed productions such as Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus and Euridice, an operatic adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, and the American premiere of Antonio Vivaldi's Motezuma. Hailed for her richly evocative and character-enhancing period costumes, Marcy Froelich* also makes her CCO debut as Costume Designer for Oklahoma!. Recent credits include the 2012 Miss America Pageant, Hello my Baby with the Rubicon Theater, and 39 Steps with the Ensemble Theatre Company. David Martin Jacques returns this summer for his 12th festival as Resident Lighting Designer. Mr. Jacques will light all three productions for the 2012 Festival. He has been lauded for his design of more than 300 theater, opera, television, dance and special event productions. Wig/Makeup Designer for all three productions in 2012 is Dave Bova*, making his Central City Opera debut. Mr. Bova's recent work has included Cabaret and Death of a Salesman with The Dallas Theater Center, Sweeney Todd with Barrington Stage, and Annie Get Your Gun with Ravinia.

La bohème (July 7 - Aug. 12) - One of the world's most popular operas, Central City Opera will present an all new production of La bohème for its 2012 Festival's second offering. Giacomo Puccini's famous four-act opera with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa is about struggling young artists and the risks of living life on the edge. Based on Henri Murger's book, Scènes de la vie de bohème, the opera first premiered in Turin in 1896 and quickly gained popularity in Italy, then internationally, and is now one of the most performed operas worldwide. Set in Paris in around 1830 (CCO's new production will be set in the 1930s), La bohème follows the challenges faced by Bohemians, specifically Mimì and Rodolfo, whose love-at-first-sight attraction is stifled by the hopeful but impoverished lives they lead. The heartwarming story that inspired the Tony award-winning musical Rent, La bohème combines the perfect mix of romance, friendship, and the pursuit of love and art. La bohème will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.

Performing Artists

Celebrating his 21st Festival with the company in 2012, CCO Music Director John Baril will serve as conductor of La bohème, having led a wide range of productions during his tenure with the company, including 2010's performances of Three Decembers and this past summer's triple bill of one act operas. Chorus Master for Opera Colorado since 2003, Mr. Baril made his official Opera Colorado conducting debut this month leading Le nozze di Figaro and conducted the young artist performance of The Barber of Seville for the company in February 2010. He made his Opera Delaware debut in May 2010 conducting Tosca and also recently made his Nashville Opera debut leading Don Giovanni. Adam Turner returns to CCO for his second season as the company's Associate Conductor. Mr. Turner will conduct two of the main stage performances and the Family Matinee. Currently Resident Conductor and Chorus Master with Virginia Opera, he has also worked with Portland Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Stadttheater Pforzheim in Germany, and many others.

Tenor Eric Margiore* makes his CCO debut in the leading role of poet Rodolfo. Praised by Opera News for his "brilliance and style, brio and high-octane vocalism," Mr. Margiore is an international contender in the principal Italian bel canto and romantic tenor repertoire. Mr. Margiore has also performed as Rodolfo with the Opera Ischia Festival in Italy. Other appearances include Narraboth in Salome with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Hong Kong; and Le Prince Charmant in Cendrillon with New York City Opera. Playing Rodolfo's love interest, Mimi, soprano Elizabeth Caballero returns to CCO following her 2011 debut as, Micaëla in Carmen. Acclaimed by the San Francisco Chronicle as a "powerful diva in the making," Ms. Caballero is becoming widely recognized for her fearless portrayals of the lyric soprano repertoire. Since her 2008 debut as Mimi with the Palm Beach Opera, Ms. Caballero has played the role with the San Francisco Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Seattle Opera. She has also starred in roles including Frasquita in Carmen with the Metropolitan Opera, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Seattle Opera, and Nedda in I Pagliacci with New York City Opera, to name a few. Baritone Troy Cook* makes his CCO debut as painter and Rodolfo confidant Marcello, a role which he has performed with the Berkshire Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia and Semperoper Dresden in Germany. Some of Mr. Cook's additional roles have included Mr. Flint in Billy Budd and Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the San Francisco Opera, Giacomo in Beatrix Cenci with the Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Morales in Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera. Soprano Deborah Selig returns to play Marcello's lover Musetta, following her CCO debut as Zerlina in 2006's Don Giovanni. Ms. Selig's recent operatic credits include Tessa in Trinity with Santa Fe Opera and Pamina in The Magic Flute, Rose in Street Scene, Mary Warren in The Crucible, and Marion in The Music Man, all with Chautauqua Opera. Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green* makes his CCO debut as Colline, philosopher and friend of Marcello and Rodolfo. A resident artist with Opera Colorado in 2011, Mr. Green was one of five winners nationally of last year's Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and of a 2011 Sara Tucker grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation. Mr. Green made his Met debut performing as part of the Met's 2011 Summer Recital Series. With Opera Colorado, he performed Colline in La bohème and Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola and his upcoming engagements include The Commendatore in the Juilliard production of Don Giovanni and Jake in Porgy and Bess with the Berlin Philharmonic. Bass-baritone Donald Hartmann will perform the roles of Benoit and Alcindoro. The Colorado Children's Chorale will also perform.

Rounding out the remainder of the cast are members of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program including: Chris Carr as Schaunard; Nicholas Nesbitt as Parpignol; Aaron Ingersoll as the Custom-House Officer; Edward Nelson as Sergeant; and Galeano Salas as the Prune Vendor.

Production Team

Grammy-nominated Kevin Newbury* makes his CCO debut as director of La bohème. Mr. Newbury's work has been produced throughout North America and Europe. His production of Virginia for the Wexford Opera Festival won the 2010 Irish Times Theatre award for Best Opera Production. He has directed productions for Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, New York City Opera, L'Opéra De Montréal, and locally for Opera Colorado. Known for his commitment to developing new work, Mr. Newbury has directed many world premieres, five of which have been published or recorded for commercial release. Scenic Designer David Korins* will make his CCO debut with the production. Recipient of the Drama Desk, Lucille Lortell, and Hewes Design awards, as well as the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Design, Korins credits include the world premiere of Life is a Dream with Santa Fe Opera and Chinglish with the Longacre Theatre. Among his designs on Broadway and off are Magic/Bird, Godspell, An Evening with Patti Lupone & Mandy Patinkin, and The Pee-Wee Herman Show. Costume Designer Jessica Jahn* will also be making her CCO debut. Some of her recent projects include: Die Mommie Die! with New World Stages (Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award); La Cenerentola at Glimmerglass Opera; Life is a Dream with Santa Fe Opera; and Die Liebe der Danae at Bard Summerscape. Upcoming projects include Werther and Anna Bolena with Minnesota Opera, as well as Maria Stuarda at Houston Grand Opera.

The Turn of the Screw (July 14 - Aug. 4) - As its final presentation in 2012 and in celebration of the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth in 1913, Central City Opera will feature a new production of Britten's The Turn of the Screw. With a libretto by Myfanwy Piper, the opera is based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. A chamber opera set in an English country house during the mid-nineteenth century, The Turn of the Screw tells the story of a Governess who keeps watch over two children, Miles and Flora, at their home called the Bly House. The story quickly unfolds as the Governess' seemingly simple job becomes a fight to protect the troubled children from the apparitions of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel, the former servant and governess. First premiered in London in 1954 and described as one of the most dramatically appealing English operas, The Turn of the Screw is oftentimes recognized by its twelve-note 'Screw' theme, which precedes each of the opera's sixteen scenes. The Turn of the Screw will be performed in English.

Performing Artists

British maestro and Britten specialist Steuart Bedford returns to CCO as conductor of The Turn of the Screw. Bedford made his CCO debut with the 2005 regional premiere of Paul Bunyan. An orchestral and opera conductor, Mr. Bedford is closely associated with the music of Benjamin Britten and conducted the world premiere of Death in Venice in 1973. Bedford has also conducted Britten's other operas and made commercial recordings including an orchestral suite of music from Death in Venice. His other work in contemporary opera has included conducting the 1996 world premiere in Monte Carlo of Lowell Liebermann's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Colorado native, tenor Vale Rideout, returns to CCO as Peter Quint after his acclaimed performances as Edgardo in CCO's 2009 Lucia di Lammermoor, Sam in Susannah and the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia in 2008, and the Prince in the 2007 production of Cendrillon. A former Central City Opera Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist, Mr. Rideout has since performed throughout the United States and in Europe and will make his debut this season with the New York Philharmonic performing Britten's War Requiem. Most recently, Mr. Rideout won a 2011 Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Classical, for Milwaukee's Florentine Opera Company's production of Elmer Gantry in which he sang the role of Frank Shallard. Irish soprano Sinéad Mulhern* makes her Central City Opera and role debut as the young and relentless Governess. Ms. Mulhern, studied at The Juilliard School in New York and The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, finishing her training as a Young Artist at the Centre de Formation Lyrique at the Opéra National de Paris, and as a Central City Opera Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist in 1994. She has performed many roles internationally including Adina in L'elisir d'amore and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte at the Toulon Festival, Sifare in Mozart's Mitridate at the Theâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin with the Nationale Reisoper in the Netherlands, and Lucio Cinna in Mozart's Lucio Silla in a co-production between Opéra de Lausanne and Opéra de Caen. Mezzo-soprano Maria Zifchak returns to CCO as housekeeper Mrs. Grose, following her 2007 company debut as Madame de la Haltière in Cendrillon, and return engagements of Bianca in The Rape of Lucretia and Mrs. McLean in Susannah in 2008. A frequent performer with the Metropolitan Opera, Ms. Zifchak has recently performed there as Annina in La Traviata, Inez in Trovatore and Kasturbai in Satyagraha. She has also played Genevieve in Pelléas and Mélisande and both the Mother and the Witch in Hänsel and Gretel with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Dorabella in Così fan tutte with Seattle Opera and Arizona Opera. Australian-born soprano Rebecca Nash* makes her debut with Central City Opera as the Governess' predecessor Ms. Jessel, a role she played in her American debut with the Boston Lyric Opera. Ms. Nash made her debut with the London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Barena in Jenufa under Bernard Haitink, and has since returned to join the company for the Fifth Maid in Elektra under Semyon Bychkov. Other credits include Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier with English National Opera, Magda in La rondine for Opera North, and Countess in Le nozze di Figaro at the Sydney Opera House. Ms. Nash is the recipient of Australia's highest honor in singing, the Inaugural Dame Joan Sutherland Singing Award and won first prize at the Herald Sun Aria and Australia Singing Competitions. CCO's Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist soprano Alisa Jordheim performs as Flora.

Production Team

Making his U.S. debut last summer directing CCO's Amadigi di Gaula, British stage director Alessandro Talevi returns to direct a new production of this ghost story. A prize-winning finalist at the 2007 European Opera-Directing Prize in Wiesbaden, Mr. Talevi was also the co-founder and artistic director of Independent Opera at Sadler's Wells in London, producing acclaimed stagings of works such as Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande and Händel's Orlando. Other recent successes have included The Turn of the Screw for Opera North in Leeds, La Cenerentola for Malmö Opera in Sweden, and several productions at the major London conservatories. Set and Costume Designer Madeleine Boyd also returns to CCO following her 2011 debut with her striking production design and costumes for Amadigi di Gaula that helped define and shape the magical and distinct "Harry Potter" inspired set for the production. Other recent designs for Ms. Boyd include The Turn of the Screw with Opera North, Pelléas et Mélisande with Independent Opera at Lillian Bayliss Theatre, and La Cenerentola for Malmö Opera.