Get to Know the Artists of OC Amplified

At the end of October, we announced a new programming initiative, Opera Colorado Amplified, bringing both in-person and digital performances to audiences in lieu of our 2020-21 mainstage season. OC Amplified is designed to expand our reach and raise voices in our community and beyond. This month, we got in touch with three of the world-renowned artists that will join us in the new year for this innovative series and asked them a few questions.


Nmon Ford
Catherine Cook
Cecilia Violetta López


Nmon FordNmon Ford, baritone

The Promise of Living
Digital Premiere in March 2021

The Promise of Living is a multicultural program of opera and song featuring Laquita Mitchell, Nmon Ford, and Israel Gursky.

What excites you most about The Promise of Living?

I’m most excited about using recorded media for the project. Having done a lot of recording (film, TV, web, podcasts, audio), I’ve come to enjoy it as much as live performance—more so, in some cases. With access to a full studio and other production resources, I’m looking forward to diving back into this creative world.

Is there a particular piece or selection you are most looking forward to, and why?

I really want to talk about this one selection, but I’m going to hold off on sharing the details because spoilers! I will say, though, that it’s something nobody would expect to either be my favorite thing on the program to perform, or on the program at all.

What has life been like during the COVID-19 pandemic, both as an artist and personally?

Creatively, procrastination kicked in like crazy during the first few months, probably because there seemed to be no end in sight. A huge project I’d written and co-produced was postponed indefinitely. Nevertheless, I pulled myself out of the slump by dividing my creative projects into small, easily accomplished segments until I got my mojo back. Personally, I’ve been blessed to maintain my quality of life, as have most of my family and friends.

Catherine CookCatherine Cook, mezzo-soprano

April in Paris
Digital Premiere in April 2021

 “In the face of such isolation, sadness and loss, music is the one thing that can connect us as a community and world.”

 

Tell us a little about the program. What can audiences expect?

I am so looking forward to returning to Opera Colorado to perform this concert! The title April in Paris was inspired by Lee Hoiby’s one-act opera Bon Appetit!, based on an actual episode of Julia Child’s cooking show The French Chef. I will be performing the one-woman show as Julia, making a chocolate cake while singing! It will be filmed like a real episode of the TV show, directed by the brilliant David Lefkowich.

What excites you most about April in Paris?

Playing Julia is pure joy. I’ve performed this piece many times, and I love to cook in real life, so it’s a natural fit for me!

Is there a particular piece or selection you are most looking forward to, and why?

In keeping with the TV episode theme, there will be 2 other TV “episodes” in addition to Bon Appetit!, and will include songs by Poulenc, Bernstein, Bolcom, Sondheim, and other surprises!

What has life been like during the COVID-19 pandemic, both as an artist and personally?

Life during the pandemic has been tough in many ways, but there is always so much to be thankful for. I’ve been grateful for my family and friends, more than ever. In addition to singing, I teach voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and have been inspired by the resilience and strength of my students.

In the face of such isolation, sadness and loss, music is the one thing that can connect us as a community and world. I am so thankful for companies like Opera Colorado who are keeping the music going and continuing to create such innovative and inspiring programming during these times.

Cecilia Violetta LopezCecilia Violetta López, soprano

Fiestas Patrias con Opera Colorado
May 2021

“I am especially grateful to our audiences for their support.  They made us feel needed and appreciated again.”

 

Tell us a little about the program. What can audiences expect?

First of all, I’m thrilled to be working with Opera Colorado once again. Fiestas Patrias con Opera Colorado is a concert where we will be a celebrating Mexico’s triumph at the Batalla de Puebla (Cinco de Mayo) and Denver’s Latinx community through music and Mexico’s rich culture and traditions.  I’m especially excited for this performance because Luis Ledesma, Nathan Salazar, and I will be sharing with the community music that we grew up with.  We have brainstormed repertoire by several Hispanic composers and plan to include some of our favorite opera tunes and duets.

What excites you most about Fiestas Patrias con Opera Colorado?

I may be an opera singer now, but I grew up singing with mariachi bands in Idaho and Mexico. I’m eager to share that side of me with our Opera Colorado patrons.

Is there a particular piece or selection you are most looking forward to, and why?

I’m excited to be singing alongside Luis Ledesma. I have heard great things about him from other colleagues in the industry and this will be the first time we will be collaborating. Being able to perform with the mariachi and Luis, as well as a duet from an opera is something I’m very much looking forward to. As if singing with Luis wasn’t enough, having Nathan Salazar accompany us on the piano, to boot? What a treat for me!  Both gentlemen are incredible musicians and fellow Latinos!

What has life been like during the COVID-19 pandemic, both as an artist and personally?

COVID-19 has really affected all of us, hasn’t it?  For me, my livelihood was directly affected.  All of my contracts this year were cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.  I’m the type of person that likes to stay busy with work. Having all of my work disappear made me feel very helpless.

Because I’m the type of person doesn’t like to sit around, I decided to make opportunities for myself. I started planning and performing virtual and live (COVID-friendly) recitals with Nathan Salazar, the same pianist who will be playing for us at Fiestas Patrias con Opera Colorado. Those performances couldn’t have come to fruition without the sponsorship of the opera companies and theatres who believed in us and our product.  I am truly grateful to the companies who engaged us to perform during these times of uncertainty, and I am especially grateful to our audiences for their support.  They made us feel needed and appreciated again.  Boy, what a great feeling it was to hear an applause from a live audience at the Wilson Theatre in Rupert, Idaho, and Nampa, Idaho (recital sponsored by Opera Idaho)!

On a personal level, the pandemic allowed for so much free time that I decided to move from Las Vegas, Nevada, my home for almost 20 years, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I absolutely love it.  I took up paddle boarding, enrolled in school, and have been having a great time making new friends and staying busy with music projects with Nathan Salazar.

Full details for Opera Colorado Amplified will be announced in January 2021.

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