Press Release

2017-18 Season Premieres New American Opera and Presents Beloved Classics

Denver, CO

Opera Colorado has announced their 2017 – 2018 season, which continues to enrich and diversify the scope of its programming with their second world premiere in two years, while also staging enduring works from the classic repertoire.

The three-production season will feature the world premiere of Steal a Pencil for Me, a WWII romance based on a true story, with music by Gerald Cohen and libretto by Deborah Brevoort; Giacomo Puccini’s beloved classic La Bohème; and Giuseppe Verdi’s masterful comic opera Falstaff. In 2017 – 2018 Opera Colorado will also continue to explore performing in diverse venues throughout the community, staging Steal a Pencil for Me at the Elaine Wolf Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, MACC at the JCC.

“We’re thrilled to be continuing our mission to support new American work by staging the world premiere of Steal a Pencil for Me—right on the heels of our world premiere of The Scarlet Letter in May 2016—and sharing with audiences a richly complex and moving depiction of this true story,” said Greg Carpenter, General Director. “We’re equally excited about the classic works we will be presenting next season. La Bohème holds a special place in our company’s history because we first staged it during our inaugural season featuring the legendary Placido Domingo. This will also mark the first time we present Falstaff in over 25 years, so we look forward to introducing younger audiences to Verdi’s incomparable satirical opera.”

  • Opera Colorado opens its season with the traditional Grand Opera production of Puccini's timeless La Bohème. American soprano Anya Matanovic and tenor Dominick Chenes star as the leading couple, Mimì and Rodolfo, in this poignant tale of love and loss among young artists in the vibrant bohemian Latin Quarter of 19th-century Paris. Ever since its 1896 premiere in Turin, Italy, La Bohème remains a worldwide favorite that appeals to both opera enthusiasts and new audiences. (November 2017, Ellie Caulkins Opera House)
  • The world premiere of Steal a Pencil for Me, a touching and unexpected love story about a Dutch man, the woman he loves, and his estranged wife, as together they struggle to survive in a Holocaust concentration camp. Surrounded by torture, disease, starvation, and death, the secret lovers exchange passionate letters written with stolen pencil stubs, keeping their hopes and hearts alive in a time of darkness. (January 2018, Elaine Wolf Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center)
  • The three-production season concludes with Falstaff, Verdi's last opera and one of only two comic operas he created in his lifetime. A brilliant adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV, Verdi's witty and insightful comedy tells the tale of Falstaff, a rotund knight played by Icelandic baritone Olafur Sigurdarson, who has run out of money and seeks to get rich quickly by attempting to seduce two married women with wealthy husbands. (May 2018, Ellie Caulkins Opera House)

“I’m invigorated by the company’s innovative energy and promising trajectory as I mark my second full season,” said Ari Pelto, Opera Colorado’s inaugural Music Director. “After working closely with Gerald Cohen and Deborah Brevoort to develop Steal a Pencil for Me for a semi-staged reading in 2013, I’m excited to bring to life this remarkable, touching work that shows the power of love and the beauty of everyday humanity during trying times.”

“I knew Jaap and Ina Polak for nearly 30 years as their cantor, and their dramatic and moving story is very close to my heart,” said Steal a Pencil for Me composer Gerald Cohen. “My parents were WWII refugees, and for a long time I contemplated creating an opera set during the Holocaust. As Jaap and Ina opened up about their wartime experience, I realized they had an extraordinary story that needed to be told. I am so thrilled to have Opera Colorado presenting the world premiere production of this opera, including the opportunity to work on it again with the superb music director Ari Pelto.”

This season marks Opera Colorado’s second full three-production season since the completion of its successful restructuring campaign in 2013. Highlights from the company's recent seasons include the world premiere of The Scarlet Letter, a new American opera composed by Lori Laitman, with libretto by David Mason in May 2016; the company's inventive new production of La Fanciulla del West, reimagined in Colorado during the Pike's Peak gold rush; and the Colorado premiere of As One conceived and composed by Laura Kaminsky with the libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, to be presented in March 2017.

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Lead Cast for Steal a Pencil for Me. (L-R): Inna Dukach, Gideon Dabi, Adriana Zabala. Courtesy Opera Colorado.

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