BEHIND THE CURTAIN: Navigating the Storm
By Greg Carpenter
The dates of Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16, 2020 will be forever memorable in the history of Opera Colorado. Following two separate COVID-19 public health orders issued by Mayor Michael Hancock and Governor Jared Polis, we made the difficult decisions of cancelling our annual Gala and Tosca, the final production of our 2019/20 Season. Two years of creative planning went into our production of Tosca, and hundreds of hours of work was devoted to our Gala by our Chairs Robin and Eric Yaeger, our passionate Gala Committee and dedicated staff.
We have weathered the emotional disappointment of these cancellations and are now navigating our second week of remote work. Now, our priority shifts from crisis management to our wonderful Tosca team, including our artists, orchestra, chorus, and production personnel. With three weeks until our cast and production team arrived in Denver, flights were already booked, hotel rooms secured, costumes received, and all plans were in place to begin rehearsals. The cancellation of our Gala and production of Tosca will have a negative impact on Opera Colorado’s financial well-being. However, we have not forgotten that the livelihood of our artists, orchestra, chorus, and production team is heavily dependent upon their employment with Opera Colorado and we are diligently working to support them during this challenging time.
I am an eternal optimist. While the situation we currently face is fluid and full of uncertainty, I am confident that we will emerge to produce immersive live opera experiences that surprise and delight our audience for years to come. While the disappointment of a season cut short lingers, the promise of an amazing 2020-21 Season is on the horizon. With all of the commitment and dedication our team can muster, we continue planning our productions of The Shining, Cavalleria Rusticana and Carmen. And of course, we will continue to bring the music and drama of live opera to our Front Range Community through educational programs for patrons and students alike.
Over the past week, many of our patrons have contacted us to express their concern for Opera Colorado and offer their help in any way possible. I want to take this opportunity to thank you, our loyal and passionate supporters, for expressing concern and for your generosity.
I also want to thank the hundreds of Tosca ticket buyers who have so generously donated all or a portion of the value of their tickets. We are deeply grateful for your understanding and support during this time of adversity.
Finally, even for the most seasoned professionals in our industry, this past week has been stressful. I try to de-stress at the end of a long day in my kitchen. The best stress relief I’ve found is the pleasure of working with my incredible staff—a group who never panicked or let the stress of the situation overwhelm them. In a spirit of collaboration, they developed communications, focused on urgent tasks, ran financial impact scenarios, always putting our patrons, artists, orchestra, chorus, and crew first. In the face of immense uncertainty, they did it all with a sense of confidence and genuine optimism.
Thank you for your support, understanding, and your fervent commitment to Opera Colorado. Now, more than ever, your patronage is so greatly appreciated by me and everyone at Opera Colorado.
I always try to find a silver lining in challenging events. The conversations I have had with many of our board members, patrons and staff reveal that “shelter in place” has everyone reading more (catching up on the stack of The New Yorker that has been piling up), meeting up for virtual cocktails, and spending more time in the kitchen cooking and baking. For those of you who know me, I love cooking and have studied at the École de Cuisine Alain Ducasse in Paris. I developed my love of baking from my mother, who baked bread and Küchen every Saturday morning for 40+ years. So, I thought I would share with you my favorite recipe for Apricot Ginger Scones. For me, being in the kitchen is the ultimate way to de-stress, relax and be creative.
APRICOT GINGER SCONES
3 cups of all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
½ cup finely diced dried apricots
½ cup finely diced crystalized ginger
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and butter a baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Blend butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips, stand mixer, or food processor, until the mixture is crumbly. Add the buttermilk and mix just until the dough begins to form a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and gently knead in the apricots and ginger. Pat the dough into a circle about ¾-1 inch thick. Brush the top of the dough with the cream and sprinkle with the sugar. Cut the round into eight pie-shaped wedges. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until puffy and golden – about 15-18 minutes.
Enjoy for breakfast or afternoon tea served with butter, clotted cream, or lemon curd.
This first Behind the Curtain blog is just one of many new initiatives designed to keep you informed and entertained during the upcoming weeks of social distancing. Make sure you look for our new Opera Explained Series and other engaging content. Over the next few weeks, we’re working to develop new and exciting ways to share special live performances of our Artists in Residence. Stay tuned!
To view Opera Colorado’s official COVID-19 Response, click here.