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Boulder Opera kicks off season 11 with ‘Eras of Opera,’ an evolution of the art

Performances on July 29-30 at Boulder Bandshell give a glimpse of historic works and modern offerings

From Left, Nathan Synder, Michelle Diggs Thompson and Karl Buttermann perform during Boulder Opera Company’s production of “Il Trovatore.” Boulder Opera Company kicks off its 11th season with Opera in the Park 2022’s “Eras of Opera” at Boulder Bandshell on July 29 and 30. (AlexiFoto/Courtesy photo)(AlexiFoto/Courtesy photo)
From Left, Nathan Synder, Michelle Diggs Thompson and Karl Buttermann perform during Boulder Opera Company’s production of “Il Trovatore.” Boulder Opera Company kicks off its 11th season with Opera in the Park 2022’s “Eras of Opera” at Boulder Bandshell on July 29 and 30. (AlexiFoto/Courtesy photo)(AlexiFoto/Courtesy photo)
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Boulder Opera Company returns to the Boulder Bandshell July 29-30 with a show that spotlights the evolution of the art form that originated in Italy in the 16th century.

Nathan Snyder, center, plays Manrico in Boulder Opera Company's production of "Il Trovatore" at Dairy Arts Center in March 2022. Boulder Opera Company kicks off its 11th season with Opera in the Park 2022's "Eras of Opera" at Boulder Bandshell on July 29 and 30. (AlexiFoto/Courtesy photo)
Nathan Snyder, center, plays Manrico in Boulder Opera Company’s production of “Il Trovatore” at Dairy Arts Center in March of 2022. Boulder Opera Company kicks off its 11th season with Opera in the Park 2022’s “Eras of Opera” at Boulder Bandshell on July 29-30. (AlexiFoto/Courtesy photo)

Boulder Opera in the Park’s “Eras of Opera” showcases a fast-paced production featuring scenes from memorable operas of yesteryear all the way up to today, with a contemporary work by Jake Heggie — whose first opera “Dead Man Walking,” based on the book of the same name by Helen Prejean — premiered in 2000.

“We’re hoping to introduce the audience to a wider range than the standard repertoire,” said Michael Travis Risner, stage director of “Eras of Opera.” “How many people have ever seen an opera by Handel, or Vivaldi, or John Adams or Jake Heggie? There’s so much more out there than Puccini and Mozart.”

From left, Julianne Perkins, Jenna Clark and David Silvano rehearse for Boulder Opera Company's "L'enfant et les sortilèges" (The Child and the Spells: A Lyric Fantasy in Two Parts) at Dairy Arts Center in Boulder on Tuesday. The opera, part of the nonprofit's family series, runs Friday-Sunday at the Dairy Arts Center. (Jordan Bass/For Friday Mag)
From left, Julianne Perkins, Jenna Clark and David Silvano rehearse for Boulder Opera Company’s “L’enfant et les sortilèges” (The Child and the Spells: A Lyric Fantasy in Two Parts) at Dairy Arts Center in Boulder in December of 2021. (Jordan Bass/For Friday Mag)

The cast includes close to 10 talented singers, both Boulder Opera Company veterans and those new to the company.

“It’s giving me a chance to work with a wide range of performers — some of whom I’ve never met and others I’ve known for nearly two decades,” Risner said.

The varied show is sure to resonate with opera purists and also appeal to those new to the art form.

“It shows the evolution of opera through the ages with some great familiar pieces and some newer pieces,” said Dianela Acosta, Boulder Opera Company’s founder and executive artistic director. I think everyone is going to have a favorite piece and will come out learning some new opera favorite.”

Acosta — originally from Spain — will also lend her vocal skills to the production.

“We are going to perform some Mozart duets, classic Handel arias, a duet by Bellini, arias and scenes from the romantic period, the exquisite sextet from ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ and our great finale in ‘One Day More’ from ‘Les Misérables,’” Acosta said.

Dianela Acosta stars as "Carmen" in Boulder Opera's "A Taste of Carmen" that will be performed on Friday and Saturday at Caffè Sole.
Dianela Acosta stars as “Carmen” in a previous production of Boulder Opera’s “A Taste of Carmen.”

Among this year’s cast is Dawna Rae Warren, a coloratura soprano who performed for the first time with Boulder Opera Company as a member of the chorus in the March production of “Il Trovatore.”

Her junior year in high school, Warren played Cosette in “Les Misérables.” After the show, a teacher she admired encouraged her to further pursue the art form, and she never looked back.

“After that, I began applying for colleges to study voice and opera,” Warren said. “I didn’t even see my first opera until halfway through my first semester at Baldwin Wallace — it was a field trip to see ‘Othello’ in Pittsburgh. I dived blindly into the world of opera, and it turned out to be the perfect fit.”

Warren — who is currently in the Artist Diploma program at University of Colorado Boulder — also enjoys dipping into Baroque music, jazz and musical theater.

In the upcoming concerts, she will perform in a series of snippets from operas including “La Ci Darem” from “Don Giovanni,” the quintet from “Carmen,” “Quel Guardo il Cavaliere” from “Don Pasquale” and “One Day More” from “Les Misérables.”

Dawna Rae Warren performs in "The Tale of Serse" with "The In Series: Opera and More" in 2019. She is part of the cast of Boulder Opera Company's Opera in the Park 2022's "Eras of Opera" at the Boulder Bandshell. (Angelisa Gillyard/Courtesy photo)
Dawna Rae Warren performs in “The Tale of Serse” with “The In Series: Opera and More” in 2019. She is part of the cast of Boulder Opera Company’s Opera in the Park 2022’s “Eras of Opera” at the Boulder Bandshell. (Angelisa Gillyard/Courtesy photo)

“In my opinion, performing scenes and excerpts from operas is much harder than performing in a full opera,” Warren said. “In a full opera, you have the support of the entire plot to give your scene and character context, you have costumes, you have a conductor and full orchestra and you get to take the audience on a full journey with your character’s development. In a performance like this, you have to create your atmosphere, mood and context out of thin air, in just a few minutes. Where you might’ve had a half-hour or so in your character’s shoes in a full production before your scene, in a concert like this, you have to get yourself to that moment before you sing.”

For Warren, it’s all about tapping into the essence of a character and letting that unfold on stage.

“I’m always really impressed when I see concert performances and I can tell that the performers have done all that work,” Warren said. “Someone can sing beautifully with excellent technique and accuracy, but this character work is what makes the difference between a performance that was good and a performance that was cathartic and moving.”

Tickets for “Eras of Opera” are $10 and $5 for folks ages 17 and under. Both performances start at 7 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy. A fenced beer garden will offer adult refreshments.

Dawna Rae Warren, right, performs in "La Casa de Bernarda Alba," by Griffin Candey, with Cleveland Opera Theater in June 2022. She will perform in Boulder Opera Company's Opera in the Park 2022's "Eras of Opera" on July 29 and 30. (Korey Smerk/Courtesy photo)
Dawna Rae Warren, right, performs in “La Casa de Bernarda Alba,” by Griffin Candey, with Cleveland Opera Theater in June of 2022. She will perform in Boulder Opera Company’s Opera in the Park 2022’s “Eras of Opera” on July 29-30. (Korey Smerk/Courtesy photo)

“The Boulder Bandshell is always a fun and challenging place to sing,” Risner said. “It necessitates sound amplification — which is generally not utilized in classical singing — so that creates a host of challenges to the singers and the tech crew to get things just right. It is also a sizable stage, and it is our hope to incorporate at least some basic staging of the selections to make things more interesting to the audience.”

After these summer shows wrap, fans can look forward to a fairy tale coming to life at Dairy Arts Center Dec. 9-18.

“Coming up in December is our family-friendly shows of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ directed by Brandon Tyler Padgett,” Acosta said. “His vision is about creating an atmosphere of an enchanted forest and overall message of hope.”

To learn more, visit BoulderOperaCompany.com.

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