Clas­si­cal in the moun­tains

Cen­tral City Opera, Aspen Mu­sic Fest, Santa Fe Opera heat up in the sum­mer

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Ray Mark Ri­naldi

A mix of fa­mil­iar and rare in Cen­tral City. A flashy farewell in Vail. A big-pre­miere mo­ment in Santa Fe. The re­gion’s clas­si­cal sum­mer has shaped up quite nicely.

While Den­ver’s in-town en­sem­bles have all but given up on draw­ing au­di­ences in the warm-weather months, there’s plenty of world­class op­tions just a car ride away.

Here’s my list of best bets for 2017

“Lu­cia di Lam­mer­moor,” Santa Fe Opera, July 1-July 31.

Opera Colorado had a hard time draw­ing cus­tomers to its ‘Lu­cia” this spring be­cause opera fans knew Santa Fe was likely to do it big­ger and bolder this sum­mer. This one fea­tures so­prano Brenda Rae, who stole the show at Santa Fe’s 2014 pre­sen­ta­tion of “The Im­pre­sario.” She’s full of the po­tent charisma needed to keep Donizetti’s badass anti-hero­ine in­ter­est­ing un­til the deadly end. Info: 800-280-4654 or santafe­opera.org.

Fac­ulty con­certs, July 2, 9, 23, Aug. 6 and Sept. 3. Rocky Ridge Mu­sic Cen­ter

It’s im­pos­si­ble to over­state just how per­fect the Rocky Ridge Mu­sic Cen­ter’s Mu­sic in the Moun­tains Con­cert Series can be. The set­ting, in the hilly out­skirts of Estes Park, is mag­i­cal, and the con­certs them­selves are

high-qual­ity and su­per in­ti­mate. There are a slew of stu­dent and fac­ulty per­for­mances this sum­mer, with a com­plete sched­ule avail­able on the cen­ter’s web­site. The stu­dents shows are full of fresh faces and the fac­ulty events give the teach­ers, who are spend­ing their sum­mer train­ing clas­si­cal’s next gen, a chance to do their best work in front of the pub­lic. These con­certs are a deal at $25 and any­one un­der 12 gets in for free and there’s a re­cep­tion for ev­ery­one after the show. Info at 970-586-4031 or rock­yridge.org.

“Car­men,” Cen­tral City Opera, July 8-Aug. 6

This is par­tic­u­larly well-cu­rated year at Cen­tral City, a mix of crowd-pleasers and off-beat gems, all worth the hike up the hill. “Car­men” kicks it off just right with so­prano Emily Pul­ley singing the lead role in a pro­duc­tion directed by Jose Maria Con­demi. Ex­pect an in­ti­mate, and sen­sual, take on one of opera’s all-time fa­vorites. Info: 303-2926700 or cen­tral­ci­ty­opera.org.

The Philadel­phia Orches­tra, with Ye­fim Bronf­man, July 15, Bravo! Vail Mu­sic Fes­ti­val

The Philadel­phia Orches­tra re­turn’s for its an­nual week in Colorado and this time busy con­duc­tor Yan­nick Nézet-Séguin man­ages to join his mu­si­cians for three con­certs in mid-July. They are all good choices, but this one, with Bronf­man on Prokofiev’s Pi­ano Con­certo No. 2 stands out. No doubt, the pro­grammed “1812 Over­ture” will take things won­der­fully over­the-top by the end of the evening. Info: 970-827-5700 or bravo­vail.org.

“The (R)evo­lu­tion of Steve Jobs” Santa Fe Opera, July 22-Aug. 15.

Santa Fe’s take on the late, Amer­i­can high-tech hero’s life and legacy is the most-an­tic­i­pated pre­miere of 2017, not just in this part of the coun­try, but in the en­tire world. Com­poser Ma­son Bates has a broad def­i­ni­tion of opera in his head and it will spill across var­i­ous gen­res as this ex­per­i­ment un­folds on stage. Colorado’s Mark Camp­bell con­trib­utes the li­bretto. This is what opera is -- right now -- and it’s right nearby. Well, sorta close, any­way. Info: 800-280-4654 or santafe­opera.org

“The Burn­ing Fiery Fur­nace” and “Ca­bildo,” Cen­tral City Opera, July 26-Aug. 2

Cen­tral City main­tains its artis­tic cred­i­bil­ity by sand­wich­ing these two rarely-heard ti­tles in be­tween the warhorses that keep it in busi­ness. Ben­jamin Brit­ten’s “The Burn­ing Fiery Fur­nace” is a dark, one-act and one of his best works. “Ca­bildo” is com­poser Amy Beach’s only opera and a wel­come con­tem­po­rary turn in a tra­di­tional line-up. These are ca­sual con­certs pre­sented in in­ter­est­ing, and al­ter­na­tive, venues. Info: 303-292-6700 or cen­tral­ci­ty­opera.org.

Master Class with Renée Flem­ing, July 27, Aspen Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

Aspen’s master classes are al­ways a high­light of sum­mer: dan­ger­ous out­ing where re­spected pros give tips to emerg­ing singers -- in front of a live au­di­ence. This ver­sion ups the drama by putting the big­gest name in Amer­i­can opera in the teacher’s seat. It’s a gim­mick, of sorts, but a re­ally fun one that sets the series apart in 2017. Info: 970 925 9042 or as­pen­mu­sicfes­ti­val.com.

“A Mae­stro’s Farewell,” July 28, Bravo! Vail Mu­sic Fes­ti­val

Depart­ing con­duc­tor Alan Gil­bert is say­ing good­bye to the New York Phil­har­monic in a big way this sum­mer, clos­ing the orches­tra’s an­nual Vail res­i­dency with the mother of all mu­si­cal num­bers, Beethoven’s Ninth. If it’s not a sen­ti­men­tal mo­ment, it will cer­tainly be a smash­ing night of clas­si­cal sound-mak­ing. Pi­anist Inon Bar­natan joins early for Beethoven’s Pi­ano Con­certo No. 2 Info: 970-827-5700 or bravo­vail.org.

Jonathan Biss, Beethoven Sonatas, Aug. 1, Aspen Mu­sic Fes­ti­val

Aspen has a slew of stars com­ing through this sum­mer, but this mix of Biss and Beethoven is the one to catch. The pi­anist has a unique way of con­vey­ing the com­poser — gen­tle, pas­sion­ate and pow­er­ful — and this event gives him a chance to con­nect the dots on a va­ri­ety of pieces (Sonatas 3, 15, 20, 27 and 28 to be pre­cise). If you like the show, you can re­turn to Aspen Aug. 8 to hear part two. (Sonatas 2, 7, 16, 19 and 31) . Info: 970-925-9042 or as­pen­mu­sicfes­ti­val.com.

Pro­vided by Rocky Ridge Mu­sic Cen­ter

The Rocky Ridge Mu­sic Cen­ter con­certs, held on the out­skirts of Estes Park, are full of fresh faces, like these young mu­si­cians. Both stu­dents and fac­ulty give per­for­mances all sum­mer.

Pro­vided by the Aspen Mu­sic Fes­ti­val

Amer­ica’s fa­vorite so­prano, Renee Flem­ing, gives a Master Class at the Aspen Mu­sic Fes­ti­val this sum­mer.

Ken Howard, pro­vided by the Santa Fe Opera

Santa Fe Opera’s “Lu­cia” fea­tures so­prano Brenda Rae, who stole the show at Santa Fe’s 2014 pre­sen­ta­tion of “The Im­pre­sario,” above.

Pro­vided by Cen­tral City Opera

Cen­tral City Opera will stage “Car­men” from July 8-Aug. 6

Zach Ma­hone, pro­vided by Bravo! Vail

An aerial view of the Ger­ald R. Ford Am­phithe­atre, home base for the Bravo! Vail mu­sic fes­ti­val.

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