CENTRAL CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – The history of opera in Central City, Colorado dates back to the 19th century.
"Back in 1978 is actually when the Opera House was built by Cornish and Welsh miners," explained Pamela Pantos, President & CEO of Central City Opera. "They were riding the Gold Rush. And obviously, those cultures have such a tradition of sung word."
They built the performance venue in the Renaissance Revival style with elaborate details, including a mural on the ceiling, arched windows, and a crescent-shaped balcony. In 1932, philanthropists Anne Evans and Ida Kruse McFarlane led an effort to do an extensive restoration on the building, and Central City Opera was born. 90-years later, Central City Opera is still offering world class performances at the Opera House.
The 2022 summer festival features three mainstage productions, one classic, one modern musical, and one remembrance opera. The festival begins with "The Light in the Piazza", a Tony Award winning musical set in 1950's Italy.
"A beautiful piece. Lots of melodies, and it's also sung in English. So if someone is looking to have just a really wonderful day in Central City, and experience something like that. It's really a wonderful piece again because it's in English," Pantos explained.
The classic "Die Fledermaus" is second up in the festival. Set in Vienna, it's sung in German, and the dialog is in English.
"That's a very funny story. 'Fledermaus' means 'the bat.' And it's really all about a costume party, and the lead character comes dressed as a bat, hence the name," Pantos pointed out.
The third piece is "Two Remain," which is based on two survivor stories from Auschwitz.
"It is composed by Jake Heggie, who is probably the foremost living composer of opera in America. Central City has done several of his pieces, and we're so fortunate that he'll actually be here with us this summer," Pantos explained.
The Central City Opera Board of Directors appointed Pantos as President & CEO in February of this year. A former performer, Pantos has also held executive level positions at several arts organizations. She said that's she's excited to be with Central City Opera as it celebrates its 90th season.
"Working with Artistic Director Pat Pierce. We're setting the next ten years in stone for artistic development to take us to our centennial, which is incredible to be able to say you get to celebrate that," she told CBS4.
Central City Opera provides affordable access to opera. Tickets start at $32.
"We also have other programs," Pantos explained. "Lunch and a Song, which you get a buffet lunch and you get to hear a recital of one of our artists for $30."
There are also accessible pieces for adults and for children put on by the education and outreach team.
"I can announce that this winter, we'll be doing a piece that is very beloved, 'Amal and the Night Visitors.' And those tickets will be appropriately priced so that families can go and enjoy that experience around the holidays," Pantos added.
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