BEHIND THE CURTAIN: Togetherness
By Greg Carpenter
Now that the intensity and urgency of cancelling performances and events have passed, I find myself reflecting upon the past six weeks of activity. While working remotely presents many challenges in a business known for collaboration and connectivity, the Opera Colorado team has made the best of this difficult situation. The support of our Board of Directors and patrons is a major source of positive energy and helps us enthusiastically focus on the future.
Before COVID-19 and the wave of subsequent cancellations, this week would have been filled with final rehearsals and the opening night performance of Puccini’s Tosca. We miss the excitement of our student audience enjoying the final dress rehearsal; we miss the bubbling anticipation of our opening night audience; we miss interacting with our wonderful artists, production team, chorus and orchestra, and the genuine sense of family we feel when we are together. Most importantly, we miss the connection to our patrons – the animated conversations and the sharing of a musical/dramatic experience that lift our spirits and transcend our daily lives. For now, the Met HD nightly opera streams and other streaming services will have to fill the void. However, nothing truly takes the place of being at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House for a live Opera Colorado performance.
Next season is filled with great music and drama, and the grand spectacle that draws us to opera in the first place. Several of our favorite artists are returning: Kelly Kaduce, Malcolm Mackenzie, Catherine Cook, Suzannah Biller, and Joseph Gaines. We will welcome new artists like Arthur Woodley, Edward Parks, Michelle deYoung, Kate Aldrich, Nmon Ford, and Roberto de Biasio. Opera takes shape through the collaborative fusion of music, storytelling, acting, dance, and scenic art; it is the coming together of great artists, each bringing their individual art forms to life, merging and shaping them into the most transformational experience imaginable. We look forward to our new season with much anticipation and joy, as well as the act of gathering together as a community to experience all of the passion and beauty that is opera.
As I reflect upon togetherness and our cancelled production of Tosca, I am drawn to my travels in Tuscany with our Music Director Ari Pelto and his wife and son, Wendy and Alessio. During this time of isolation and uncertainty, I crave experiencing great live opera and spectacular vistas, enjoying amazing food and wine, and savoring hours of shared friendship. So, I thought I would share with you my recipe for a delicious Tuscan Roast Chicken. It is perfect for a weekday dinner or light Sunday supper, and in the true Italian spirit, sharing with friends and family.
TUSCAN ROAST CHICKEN
1 4lb. whole roasting chicken (backbone removed)
1 large onion
5-6 sprigs of thyme
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 ½ tsp. fennel pollen
5 oz. baby arugula
2 tbs. toasted pine nuts
sea salt flakes
Preparation: Remove the backbone and flatten the chicken (spatchcock). Pat the skin dry with a paper towel. Running your hand underneath the skin, create a pocket between the skin and meat of the breasts and legs. Place a sprig of thyme and the minced garlic in each of the pockets. Rub the surface of the skin with olive oil and sprinkle the fennel pollen evenly over the skin. Place the flattened whole chicken in a pan, cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4-6 hours.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut the onion in large pieces and place in the bottom of your roasting pan. Add a couple of sprigs of thyme and the white wine. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and place the flattened chicken on top of the onions and thyme. Slice the lemon and distribute the slices evenly over the surface of the chicken. Roast the chicken for approximately 1 and ¼ hours or until the skin is crispy and a meat thermometer inserted in the breast meat reads about 180 degrees.
Remove the roasted chicken from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for about 15 minutes. Place the baby arugula in a large bowel. Drizzle about 2 tbs. of the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan over the arugula. Spread the arugula evenly on a serving platter. Carve the roast chicken and place it on top of the arugula. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and finish with a pinch of sea salt flakes.
Greg Carpenter is Opera Colorado’s General & Artistic Director