March Tour Blog – Day 1

The Opera Colorado Young Artists caravan on tour in the mountains. Photo: Opera Colorado/Cherity Koepke

By Cherity Koepke

Good morning, readers! I’m back and the blogs are back, too!

For those of you who are new: this is the blog I write while we’re on tour, taking opera all across Colorado. It’s a chance to see what life on the road is like. The good, the bad, and the otherwise. I’ll be blogging this week as we travel to Telluride and Gunnison.

We’ve got a log day ahead, so I’ll start by giving you a rundown of this year’s players. We have the 2017-2018 Young ArtistsNicole Keeling, Vanessa Naghdi, Katie Beck, Nathan Ward, Heath Martin, Nicholas Kreider, and Andrew Hiers—coach accompanist Jordan Ortman, and me, your tour guide and blogger, Cherity Koepke. We’re all part of this amazing organization, Opera Colorado.

That tells you our names, but not really much else about us. Not to worry. By the time I’m done blogging for the season, you’ll know all the little character traits and habits that make us unique. Well, really more them than me. (Blogger’s prerogative.) So, let’s get started, shall we? Today we’re driving to Telluride to get ready for a performance of Cinderella tomorrow, so it’s a long day on the road—spending a lot of time together in the car. Well, make that cars. We have three. Being a group of nine this season, we can no longer fit into two vehicles. It’s not just bodies. Those bodies all have stuff. Plus, our sets, costumes, props, music, gear, snacks… We’re now an honest to goodness caravan, or as the group calls us, a sea of ships. (I think that’s what they said. I wasn’t really listening.)

But—I digress. Let me help you get to know them a little more by telling you what I’ve learned about each of them during our travels…

The Opera Colorado Young Artists take a cookie break on the road. Photo: Opera Colorado/Cherity Koepke

All of them like cookies and dogs, including Nathan (meaning Nathan loves these things too, not that Nathan is, in fact, a dog). Nathan loves dogs. Adores them really. He made a friend today. Things became intimate between them pretty quickly. It got a little uncomfortable for the rest of us. Nathan also likes running, meeting new people and being a sailor. (He calls himself that.)

Katie—she likes to drive, loves to look at the scenery, and really loves to frolic. I mean REALLY loves it. We make stops to frolic whenever we can and that makes Katie happy. She also likes to rock climb, especially when assisted by our strong man and king of the mountain, Andrew.

Andrew enjoys the scenery too, and sleeping. He’s a man of simple tastes like pizza, drip coffee, and puns. He dislikes cheese, but likes to drive barefoot. I also learned today that he makes noises in the bathtub. I did not learn this firsthand—I want to make that clear. He also gets hangry, so regular feedings are important.

Heath is a gentleman who enjoys ranch dressing, dislikes olives with a vehemence I haven’t witnessed before, and believes in being fully stocked with snacks for the car. We think he bought ham at the last pit stop. He also likes to growl in the backseat.

Vanessa likes all things fuzzy and furry (she has this fabulous coat that she wears and looks like she’s being hugged by a teddy bear), shopping, and taking pictures of beautiful Colorado. She doesn’t like getting snow down her teddy bear coat, or in her shoes. It’s OK though, because Nick came to the rescue and carried her. (Read more about Nick the helper a bit further in the blog.) She also has the most contagious laugh and is a really dedicated wildlife spotter.

Nicole is always up for sightseeing, especially if it involves shopping. She squeaks when she really gets to giggling, wears snow boots with an eye for fashion and not for actually keeping the snow off one’s feet, and seriously dislikes getting food in her hair.

Jordan is a happy traveler as long as you feed him on a regular basis, much like our Andrew. He brings snacks…or, well, what he deems snacks. He asked us if we wanted a carrot stick. I said yes and held out my hand. Know what I got? One carrot. Not a stick portion of a carrot—a full, life-sized carrot.  You also have to make sure he has regular access to coffee. This is important to note, readers. IMPORTANT. The man really enjoys his coffee.

And then there’s Nick. Nick is everyone’s helper. He’s the designated rock watcher, DJ for the drive, conversation director, and snow rescuer. He is always ready to lend a hand, pitch in, and throw a well-timed zinger at his colleagues. Additionally, he has a giggle that sounds like the Pillsbury Doughboy when you poke him in the belly. (Again, I mean when you poke the Pillsbury Doughboy in the belly, not Nick.)

The Opera Colorado Young Artists on tour in Telluride, CO. Photo: Opera Colorado/Cherity Koepke

You feel like you know them a bit better now, don’t you?

We trudge our way to Telluride. Making more pit stops than we planned thanks to the Denali and the seemingly small bladders of several in our group. Hydration is important. What’s up with the Denali, you ask? Well, our car, which we also call the Yeti, is being very touchy. It’s decided to flash its oil temperature light at random. (It figures that our car is being a diva.) After stopping to get it checked and not finding anything amiss, we continue on. We stop for lunch in Buena Vista and, of course, coffee. Refueled for the road, we continue on, only stopping when the bladders call.

Arriving at our destination, we meet our contact Chris and quickly get into gear setting up for tomorrow’s performance. This is our first time in this theater and it’s exciting. I always love to see the sets of our Touring Productions on a stage. After getting set up, spiking the set, getting props and costumes ready, handling the lighting and piano placement, we take a break for dinner and talk with our host a bit. Everyone’s happy—Nathan is chatting with Chris; Nick the helper is feeding Heath, who has avoided olives; Nicole, Vanessa and Katie are “eww-ing” at Nick feeding Heath; Andrew is sans cheese and no longer hangry; and Jordan has food, so he’s good. It’s all going well, until Nicole gets food in her hair. We manage to turn the mood around by eating carrot cake. Dinner done, we make the drive to Ridgeway where we’re staying. Living in the city, you forget what night actually looks like. It gets really dark out here, readers. We saw a lot of deer on the way up, so thank goodness I have Vanessa as my wildlife spotter.

Arriving at the hotel, I get us checked in, we divide up into rooms and everyone settles in for the night. We’re up early tomorrow to get ready for the performance. Ah… tour.

That’s all for Day 1—a snapshot, if you will. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll continue following us on our journey.

See you tomorrow readers,


Cherity Koepke is Opera Colorado’s Director of Education & Community Programs and the Director of the Young Artist Program. To learn more about some of Opera Colorado’s many education and community opportunities, click here. To learn more about this year’s Young Artists, click here.

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