It’s the last day – the day we head back to Denver from the 2016 Greater Colorado tour. The day consists of us leaving Carbondale and taking the road through Independence Pass. It’s the second day the pass has been open for the year and something I want the Young Artists to experience before they end their residency with Opera Colorado.
The road is not for the faint of heart in places and I regularly check on Danielle, who is squeaking in the back seat. There are other noises too, oohs and aahs abound. At the first stop, which is on the side of a cliff and overlooks a cavern with a river below, Charles comments that this has been fairly terrifying so far. Its starts snowing like mad so we get back in the cars and continue the ascent.
There’s no way to describe the beauty of this place. It looks like something out of a carefully crafted big-budget movie and not even that does it justice. Ben is snapping pictures as fast as his shutter finger can go. Emily hasn’t stopped smiling since we began the drive and Alaina just keeps chanting, “Jeeze” repeatedly. Charles and Will are following in the Denali behind us and as long as they stay on the road, I’ll assume they’re OK.
We reach the summit and it’s like being at the top of the world. It’s almost completely quiet up here even though there are other vehicles and people present. The sounds just sort of melt away and all you can do is look and experience it. There are other creatures present too. Some tiny little birds that I can’t believe live up this high and…dogs. There are quite a few and to all of our astonishment, Charles speaks to them, but then walks on by. It must be altitude sickness. We all keep a close eye on him.
A few of the more adventurous in the group decide to walk out on the snow to get a better view. Will hangs back as do Alaina, Danielle and me who have not chosen our foot attire wisely. Emily and Ben go with Charles, mainly just to make sure he comes back in one piece. They get some amazing pictures. When everyone is back in one place, we snap a group picture next to the sign to commemorate the day. It’s the final group picture we’ll likely take before the program ends on May 31st.
The snow moves in again, so we jump back in the cars and begin the descent. We drive right under an avalanche area and then enter a gorgeous valley. Ben has chosen and epic soundtrack for the drive and it adds to the experience. From there, we make our way back through Buena Vista, where we stop for lunch, and then over Kenosha Pass and into Conifer. We hit a pretty wicked storm coming into Denver and the end of the drive is less than relaxing. When I pull up to the house to drop everyone off, I’m glad to be back and I think they all feel the same.
The rental is unloaded. Luggage is grabbed – and that’s it. Tour is over, just like that. With no fanfare, no triumphal march, no resounding chorus. We made it safely back and that’s something to be thankful for. We also brought opera to 8 different communities, taught students from 3 schools and one theater company and traveled over 1,000 miles. We’re tired; tired of sleeping in unfamiliar beds, eating in restaurants and being in a car for hours on end. Touring isn’t easy. It takes a lot out of you. And you know what readers? It’s absolutely worth it. To do what we do is an honor. To do what you love and share that with people? It’s a privilege.
So I want to end this blog not with tales of our antics on this final day, but with a sincere thank you. Thank you to every person who has followed our journey and read the blogs. I’ve received so many comments to let me know that you were enjoying it and wanted more. Thank you to everyone who came to see our performances or participated in our workshops. Thank you for all for the heartfelt compliments, for the enthusiastic responses and the invitations for us to return. Thank you for supporting the Young Artists all season and encouraging us to keep going; to keep singing. Thank you for loving opera as much as we do and helping us to keep this amazing art form alive and thriving.
At our last Q&A I was asked if I thought that Colorado was unique because of the deep-rooted history it has with opera. I think it plays a role, absolutely, but I think the reason we see such success with things like this tour is because of YOU. The people of Colorado are a special group. They give their heart and soul to the things they believe in. How lucky for us all that opera is one of those things.
Until next year readers – all my best to you.