February 09, 2009


2009 Festival Features Three Productions with World Renowned Artists
*=Central City Opera Debut

Denver, Colo.— The slate of internationally renowned artists have been selected for Central City Opera’s (CCO) 2009 Festival featuring three productions of works spanning the centuries. Running June 27 to Aug. 2, the Festival features a new production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, the popular Italian bel canto style opera about feuding families in Scotland and young Lucia’s forbidden love; a new production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, the Tony Award winning musical that portrays the romantic lives of couples in Swedish society; and a new production of George Frideric Handel’s Italian opera Rinaldo, a heroic story of battle and love set in the time of the First Crusade. A full cast list for each of the 2009 productions is located at the end of this release.

“In these difficult economic times, we have safeguarded the artistic integrity of our season while making adjustments in other areas of the company,” commented General/Artistic Director Pelham (Pat) Pearce. “While we’re not immune to the issues affecting our world today, we have truly creative people involved who will ensure that the Festival will continue to be the same – an exciting, thoughtful theatrical experience, beautifully sung and played.”

Lucia di Lammermoor (June 27 – Aug. 2) –Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, including the famous “Mad Scene,” premiered in 1835 at Teatro San Carlo in Naples and today remains one of the leading bel canto (“beautiful singing” in Italian) style operas in the standard repertoire. The piece’s Italian libretto is by Salvatore Cammarano after Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel, The Bride of Lammermoor. A dramma tragico (tragic opera) Lucia di Lammermoor follows two feuding families, the Ashtons and the Ravenswoods, in the Lammermuir Hills area of Lowland Scotland and the forbidden love between Lucia, an Ashton, and Edgardo, a Ravenswood. A new production set in 17th century Scotland sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Performing Artists
Central City Opera’s Music Director John Baril conducts this production after leading performances of West Side Story last summer. Having started his work with the company in 1992, Mr. Baril has conducted a wide range of productions during his tenure such as the regional premiere of Adamo’s Little Women; Bizet’s Carmen; and Massenet’s Les contes d’Hoffmann and Cendrillon. Mr. Baril also recently led Don Giovanni with Nashville Opera. Russian soprano Lyubov Petrova* makes her Central City Opera debut as Lucia. Touted by Opera News as “a soprano of ravishing, changeable beauty, blazing high notes and magnetic stage presence” for her Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare at Glimmerglass Opera last summer, Ms. Petrova has received accolades for her performances worldwide from the Metropolitan Opera to Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Italy. She works again under the direction of Catherine Malfitano for this production after their recent collaboration on Rigoletto last March at Washington National Opera. Colorado native, tenor Vale Rideout, returns as Lucia’s forbidden love interest Edgardo after his acclaimed performances as Sam in Susannah and the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia last summer. A former Central City Opera Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist, Mr. Rideout has since performed throughout the United States and in Europe and makes his debut this season with the New York Philharmonic performing Britten’s War Requiem. Baritone Grant Youngblood returns as Lucia’s brother, Enrico, after his performances last summer as Reverend Olin Blitch in Susannah. Other recent engagements for Mr. Youngblood include Amonasro in Aida with Opera Omaha and Scarpia in Tosca with Connecticut Opera. Bass-baritone Richard Bernstein returns as Lucia’s chaplain and tutor, Raimondo, after his debut with the company as Mustafa in L’Italiana in Algeri. Featured in the Grammy Award nominated recording of Eugene Onegin live from the Met, Mr. Bernstein has performed many times with the Metropolitan Opera in productions such as the world premiere of An American Tragedy, A View from the Bridge and standard repertoire such as Die Zauberflöte and La Bohème.

Production Team
Catherine Malfitano, the famed soprano who made her directorial debut with Madama Butterfly (2005) at Central City Opera, and returned in 2007 to stage The Saint of Bleecker Street, will direct this production. Having performed the role of Lucia herself, this will be Ms. Malfitano’s debut directing the Donizetti opera. Recent directing credits include Rigoletto at Washington National Opera and Don Giovanni for the Merola Program at San Francisco Opera. Wilson Chin, who made his company debut collaborating with Ms. Malfitano on the set design for The Saint of Bleecker Street, returns with his designs including ancestral maps of Scotland, detailed forest scenes and beautiful home interiors for this production. Mr. Chin also worked with Ms. Malfitano providing set design for Don Giovanni for San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program and has recently designed Dido and Aeneas for New York Chamber Opera as well. Terese Wadden* has designed the period costumes, complete with Scottish tartan, highlighting its important role in everyday life at the time in her debut with CCO for this production. Ms. Wadden most recently collaborated with Christopher Alden on Elliot Carter’s opera What Next? at Columbia University and designed costumes for the short film "The Getaway," directed by Ellen Novack. The wig/makeup designer for all three productions in 2009 is Alison Mizerski, who returns for her fifth summer in residence with Central City Opera.

A Little Night Music (July 4 - July 31) – A Tony award winner for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score, Sondheim’s music is set almost entirely in waltz time and includes the famous song “Send in the Clowns.” The book by Hugh Wheeler was inspired by the Ingmar Bergmann film "Smiles of a Summer Night." A Little Night Music premiered on Broadway in 1973 and was revived in London both in 1989 and 1995. Set in Sweden at the turn of the century, the musical follows the lives of several couples from all walks of life and their views on life, love and sex are explored with compassion and humor. This work has become part of the repertoire of several opera companies including the New York City Opera, which performed it in 1990, 1991 and 2003, the Houston Grand Opera who performed it in 1999 and Los Angeles Opera with a production in 2004. A new production sung in English.

Performing Artists
Associate Conductor and Chorus Master for Central City Opera since 2005 and previously an assistant conductor in 2004, Christopher Zemliauskas* makes his debut as Principal Conductor with the company leading A Little Night Music. Mr. Zemliauskas is currently the Assistant Musical Director of the Opera Program at CU Boulder and previously worked as Resident Artist Conductor for the Minnesota Opera. Other companies where he has served on the music staff include San Francisco Opera, Opera Colorado and Indianapolis Opera. Baritone Robert Orth returns as the central character of A Little Night Music, Frederik Egerman, after his most recent appearance with the company as Horace Tabor in the 50th anniversary production of The Ballad of Baby Doe (2006). Having appeared with the company many times, some of his previous appearances include Lescaut in Manon (1994) and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus (1991). Highly touted for his portrayal of the role of Richard Nixon in Nixon in China, he performed the role in Denver with Opera Colorado last June. He is joined by Grammy Award winning artist Sylvia McNair who returns to Central City Opera as Desiree Armfeldt, after her debut with the company as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2002. Ms. McNair’s 25 year career spans from opera and oratorio to cabaret and musical theater, taking her from the Metropolitan Opera to the Rainbow Room. A breast cancer survivor, her new biographical one-woman show “Subject to Change” is scheduled to be released soon and she continues to perform as a regular guest vocal and violin soloist in America and Europe. Soprano Sarah Jane McMahon returns as Anne Egerman after her acclaimed performances as Maria in West Side Story and as Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia last summer. A past CCO Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist, Ms. McMahon has since gone on to perform with such opera companies as New York City Opera and Los Angeles Opera (in Parsifal opposite Plácido Domingo), in addition to a wide array of musical theater credits. Mezzo-soprano Myrna Paris returns to Central City Opera as Madame Armfeldt after her most recent appearance with CCO as the Old Lady in Bernstein’s Candide (2000) and previously as Mamma McCourt in The Ballad of Baby Doe (1996), a role she has particularly received acclaim for at opera houses throughout the U.S. such as New York City Opera and Pittsburgh Opera. Ms. Paris has also been touted for her Gilbert & Sullivan and musical theatre roles. Stephanie Nelson returns as Petra after her acclaimed debut with the company last summer as Anita in West Side Story. Ms. Nelson is an accomplished singing, dancing actress who recently performed at the Metropolitan Opera in Iphigenie en Tauride with Placido Domingo, and has also appeared with companies such as Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Kansas City Lyric Opera. Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm is portrayed by baritone Jeffrey Mattsey, who returns after his CCO debut in the title role of Don Giovanni (2006). Having performed often at the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Mattsey has also performed abroad at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and is known for his Gilbert & Sullivan roles. Mezzo-soprano Sarah Kleeman, a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist with CCO in 2007, returns as Countess Charlotte Malcolm in A Little Night Music. Recent credits include Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro with Pacific Repertory Opera and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with Bear Valley Music Festival.

Production Team
Stage director Ken Cazan returns to CCO after his direction of the sold out production of West Side Story last summer and previous credits with the company including L’Incoronazione di Poppea (2006) Paul Bunyan (2005) and Le Jongleur de Notre Dame (2004), to name a few. The Resident Stage Director for the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, Mr. Cazan is also one of America’s most sought after directors, having directed more than 100 productions for more than 40 opera companies. Cameron Anderson, who made her debut with Central City Opera last summer with West Side Story, returns as scenic designer for A Little Night Music. Having designed extensively for both opera and theater, her recent designs include Don Pasquale for Pittsburgh Opera and The Language of Trees for Roundabout Underground Theatre in New York City. Costume designer Alice Marie Kugler Bristow returns for this production after her design work for West Side Story last summer. Having designed for the company many times, Ms. Bristow is also an Assistant Professor of Costume Design at Berry College.

Rinaldo (July 11 - Aug. 1) – The first Italian opera composed specifically for the London stage, Rinaldo was first performed in Her Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket in 1711. A great success, the piece appealed to many Baroque artists due to its inclusion of two castrato roles (now played by mezzo-sopranos or countertenors). The Italian libretto written by Giacomo Rossi is based on episodes of Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberate (“Jerusalem Delivered”). It is a story of love amidst battle during the First Crusade (1096 – 1099) between Almirena, daughter of the General of the Crusade, Goffredo, and the knight, Rinaldo, who are torn apart during battle and must overcome adversity to be together. A new production sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Performing Artists
British conductor Matthew Halls* makes his Central City Opera debut with Rinaldo. Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Baroque ensemble, The King’s Consort, and a regular guest conductor with The English Concert, Portland Baroque Orchestra and Holland Baroque Society, Mr. Halls has established a reputation as one of the leading performers/conductors of the younger generation of Baroque musicians. An accomplished keyboard player, with expertise on harpsichord and organ, he has been a member of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra since 1999 and has played with many of the world’s leading Baroque orchestras. Mezzo-soprano Phyllis Pancella returns as Rinaldo after her acclaimed appearances as Lucretia in last summer’s The Rape of Lucretia and her CCO debut as Nerone in L’Incoronazione di Poppea (2006). Renowned for her artistic versatility and musicianship, Ms. Pancella has an extensive repertoire ranging from the Baroque era to the current century. Recent credits include Dejanira in Handel’s Hercules with Music of the Baroque under Jane Glover, Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito with Opera Boston and Mrs. Noye in Britten’s Noye’s Fludde with Los Angeles Opera. Countertenor David Walker returns as the captain of the Crusade force, Goffredo, after his role as Ottone in L’Incoronazione di Poppea (2006) and Oberon in CCO’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2002). Mr. Walker also performed in Handel’s Hercules with Music of the Baroque under Jane Glover this past fall and other recent credits include Raphael in the North American premiere of Tobias and the Angel with Opera Vivente in Maryland and the Paris premiere of the title role in Elephant Man. Known for his interpretations of Baroque roles, he has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera and Santa Fe Opera, to name a few. Kathleen Kim*, touted as a “tiny dynamo” who “nailed her stratospheric coloratura aria with a precise, penetrating soprano,” by John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune, makes her debut with Central City Opera as the enchantress, Armida. The young Korean American soprano made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera as Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro in the ’07-08 season and returned as Oscar in Un ballo in maschera. She also made her debut this fall with Minnesota Opera as Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and makes her European debut with the Bilbao Opera in Spain as Marie in La Fille du Régiment. Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins returns to CCO as Goffredo’s enemy, Argante. Mr. Hopkins made his debut with the company last summer as Junius in The Rape of Lucretia. He also recently appeared with Houston Grand Opera in his role debut as Marcello in La Bohème, with Arizona Opera as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte and with the Verbier Festival in Switzerland as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. Countertenor Jason Abrams returns as Goffredo’s brother, Eustazio, after his appearance as Arnalta in L’Incoronazione di Poppea (2006). A former Studio Artist in CCO’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, Mr. Abrams joined the roster of New York City Opera this past season in King Arthur and appeared as Nireno in Giulio Cesare with both Lyric Opera of Chicago and Florida Grand Opera. His extensive oratorio experience includes a debut last season at Carnegie Hall singing Messiah with Oratorio Society of New York. Soprano Megan Hart returns to the company as Rinaldo’s love interest, Almirena, after her appearances last year as a Studio Artist in Central City Opera’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, including her performance as The Spirit of the Boy in the acclaimed production of the church parable, Curlew River. A Seattle Opera Young Artist, she will be performing in Hänsel and Gretel, Eugene Onegin and A Midsummer Night's Dream there in 2008-09.

Production Team
Having worked often with Central City Opera, Marc Astafan returns to direct Rinaldo, after his most recent successes in Cendrillon (2007) and Don Giovanni (2006). Mr. Astafan’s recent credits include Die Fledermaus with Opera Providence, Hänsel & Gretel with Nevada Opera and his debut with Connecticut Opera directing Tosca. A frequent collaborator with Mr. Astafan, Caleb Wertenbaker returns as scenic designer for Rinaldo after his work on Cendrillon (2007). Recent credits for Mr. Wertenbaker include Le nozze di Figaro at New England Conservatory, Dust at West Side Theatre in New York City and Amistad at the Spoleto Festival, USA. His design for this new production of Rinaldo set in the Middle East at the time of the First Crusades features such elements as a medieval map scrim, a rolling sea and the mysterious cave of the Sorcerer. Sara Jean Tosetti, who designed the “eye-catching styles” for Central City Opera’s Cendrillon (2007) that were labeled a “coup de theatre” by the Rocky Mountain News, returns to design the costumes for Rinaldo which range from opulent to rough and multi-dimensional. Ms. Tosetti’s recent credits include Manuscript and The Exonerated at the Darryl Roth Theatre, Artifice with Complexions, Inc at the New Victory and several productions at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.

Single Tickets on Sale Now!
Single tickets are now on sale for Central City Opera’s 2009 Festival, ranging from $50 to $99. Subscriptions to see Lucia di Lammermoor and A Little Night Music (with exclusive subscriber-only pricing for Rinaldo) during the 2009 Festival start at just $95 and go up to $183. Bus subscriptions are available, as well as at 15% discount for groups of 10 or more and special discounts for seniors and students. NEW THIS YEAR: Tuesday and Friday night performances start early at 7:30 p.m. with Thursday and Saturday night performances starting at 8:00 p.m. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Central City Opera Box Office at 303-292-6700; 800-851-8175 or go online to www.centralcityopera.org.

(Full cast lists at the end of this release. Set, costume designs, and headshots available upon request.)
Celebrating its 77th year, the Central City Opera House Association is the nation’s fifth-oldest opera company, located just 35 miles west of Denver in one of Colorado’s official National Landmark Historic Districts. The company continues to present artistically excellent professional opera; to offer career-entry training to young singers; to produce education and community service programs; and to preserve and maintain the Opera House and 30 other Victorian-era properties. For more information or to purchase tickets to the Central City Opera, visit www.centralcityopera.org or call 303-292-6700.

Central City Opera 2009 Production Cast Lists
Additional roles TBA *=Central City Opera Debut

Lucia di Lammermoor
Music: Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto: Salvatore Cammarano
Conductor: John Baril
Director: Catherine Malfitano
Scenic Designer: Wilson Chin
Costume Designer: Terese Wadden*
Wig/Makeup Designer: Alison Mizerski

Cast in order of vocal appearance

Enrico: Grant Youngblood
Raimondo: Richard Bernstein
Lucia: Lyubov Petrova*
Edgardo: Vale Rideout

A Little Night Music
Music: Stephen Sondheim
Book: Hugh Wheeler
Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Original choreography: Patricia Birch
Conductor: Christopher Zemliauskas*
Director: Ken Cazan
Scenic Designer: Cameron Anderson
Costume Designer: Alice Bristow
Wig/Makeup Designer: Alison Mizerski

Cast in order of vocal appearance

Madame Armfeldt: Myrna Paris
Henrik Egerman: Matthew Giebel
Anne Egerman: Sarah Jane McMahon
Petra: Stephanie Nelson
Desiree Armfeldt: Sylvia McNair
Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm: Jeffrey Mattsey
Countess Charlotte Malcolm: Sarah Kleeman
Frederik Egerman: Robert Orth

Music: G. F. Handel
Libretto: Giacomo Rossi
Conductor: Matthew Halls*
Director: Marc Astafan
Scenic Designer: Caleb Wertenbaker
Costume Designer: Sara Jean Tosetti
Wig/Makeup Designer: Alison Mizerski

Cast in order of vocal appearance

Rinaldo: Phyllis Pancella
Goffredo: David Walker
Argante: Joshua Hopkins
Armida: Kathleen Kim*
Almirena: Megan Hart
Eustazio: Jason Abrams