What: CU NOW presents the first act of Lori Laitman’s new opera “Ludlow” in workshop
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. June 3
Where: ATLAS Black Box Theater on the University of Colorado campus (18th St. and Colorado Ave.)
Info: 303-492-8008 or cupresents.org
As a performer, University of Colorado sophomore Courtney Pomeroy has tried to channel composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Giacomo Puccini in an attempt to get into character. But until now, they have never talked back.
This weekend, Pomeroy is performing in a special workshop production of the first act of “Ludlow” — a new opera based on Colorado poet laureate David Mason’s 2007 verse novel about Colorado’s tragic massacre of 1914, during the coal mining wars.
Pomeroy and the other student performers have been working with composer Lori Laitman for the show, a production of CU’s New Opera Works program.
“There is no other rehearsal process they go through during the academic year that’s like this,” said Heather Beasley, managing director of CU NOW. “Usually, the composers are dead so that’s not an option.”
Beasley said since Laitman is still developing the show, students are getting an opportunity to see and be part of that process.
“They’re getting the chance to create a role where they can’t listen to other recordings of those roles,” Beasley said. “They’re not inheriting the roles, but creating them for the first time. That’s really rare, especially for students.”
Pomeroy said in addition to working with a new show, the rare workshop performances give students a new kind of feedback — a direct critique from the audience. The three weekend productions will last about 45 minutes and include a feedback session following the performance, allowing the audience to interact with the singers and composers.
“We get a lot of feedback from professors and faculty in the music school and people involved with the shows — but not from the audience,” Pomeroy said. “I’m excited to get feedback from the people that we’re performing for, rather than the people who are involved in the process and have that inside scoop.”
CU master’s student Julie Silver said she is also looking forward to the workshop experience, which she expects will test her abilities as a performer.
“As we get feedback, we could be making changes to the show and as a performer, that’s a bit unnerving,” Silvers said. “As an actor you want everything to be the same. You want consistency. But it could be good to keep us on our toes.”
This is the school’s third year bringing a workshop experience to students through the CU NOW program, but it’s the first time students in the program have preformed a new show, Beasley said.
Over the past two years of workshop productions, Beasley said audience feedback has been constructive.
“The audience is more respectful because they’re talking to actual people,” Beasley said. “They know they’re in a room with people who are still working, and feel like their criticism is valued.”
Silver said she is hoping the workshops will create community between the performers and the audience, making opera a more personal experience.
“Opera is often misunderstood and seen as an elitist art,” Silver said. “If we can get feedback about what they liked and didn’t like and what they understand and don’t understand, then it makes the process so much more human and that’s what this should be.”