Uncover Love’s True Name
Music by Giacomo Puccini & Franco Alfano
Libretto by Giuseppe Adami & Renato Simoni
Premiered April 25, 1926, La Scala (Milan, Italy)
Opera Colorado closes its 40th Anniversary Season on a high note with a breathtaking production of Turandot. Puccini’s fantastical tale features a magnificent chorus and the iconic tenor aria, “Nessun dorma.” Those who wish to marry the fearsome and beautiful Princess Turandot must win a deadly game of riddles. Though she has sworn never to marry, the clever Prince Calàf has a riddle of his own, which may open the door to love.
May 6, 9, 12, 14 | 2023
The Ellie Caulkins Opera House at Denver Performing Arts Complex
Performed in Italian, with English and Spanish subtitles at every seat.
Saturday, May 6: SOLD OUT
Tuesday, May 9: SOLD OUT
Friday, May 12: SOLD OUT
Sunday, May 14: SOLD OUT
Estimated Length: 2 hours, and 37 minutes
*Join us one hour prior to each performance at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House for a free and insightful pre-performance.
THE RIDDLE OF TURANDOT
We held our first Turandot community engagement event on Monday, February 13. Watch the panel discussion and learn more about how Opera Colorado is addressing issues about AAPI representation in this opera here>>
This production of Turandot is owned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and was originally created by Bliss Hebert and Allen Charles Klein for Florida Grand Opera, The Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and San Francisco Opera.
Costumes originally designed for and created by the Santa Fe Opera.
The 40th Anniversary Season is generously sponsored by Marcia & Dick Robinson.
The Orchestra for Turandot is sponsored by The Divine Family.
Dramatic soprano, Kara Shay Thomson, has built an expansive stage career by creating characters that push the limits both musically and dramatically. Ms. Thomson’s major roles include the iconic Puccini heroines, Turandot and Tosca. Additional dramatic roles include the title role in Strauss’ Salome, Fidelio (Leonore), Cavalleria rusticana (Santuzza), and Don Giovanni (Donna Anna). Kara Shay is well known for taking on rarely performed dramatic roles including Erwartung (The Woman), Les Troyens (Cassandre), Bluebeard’s Castle (Judith), Tiefland (Marta), Der Freishütz (Agäthe), the title role in Vanessa, Aleko (Zemfira), Die tote Stadt (Marietta), The Consul (Magda), the title role in Blitzstein’s Regina, and as Balkis in Odyssey Opera’s live recording of the US premiere of Gounod’s La Reine de Saba. Company appearances include Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Virginia Opera, Utah Opera, Portland Opera, Atlanta Opera, Dayton Opera, Opera Omaha, Kentucky Opera and Sarasota Opera.
Tenor Jonathan Burton is engaged to sing the most demanding roles in the tenor repertoire including Tosca (Cavaradossi), Turandot (Calàf), Fanciulla del West (Dick Johnson), and Aida (Radames). He regularly receives rave reviews for his “…bright, heroic tone, [and] clarion power…” For his performance in Tosca (Cavaradossi) with Opera Omaha, one reviewer said: “Tenor Jonathan Burton was revelatory as the painter and revolutionary sympathizer. His voice never faltered through the demands of the role and his tortured humanity was palpable.” Recently, Burton joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for the first time for their production of Turandot (Calàf) and also performed the role with Maryland Lyric Opera. He also sang in Carmen (Don José) for Palm Beach Opera and covered the title role in Tristan und Isolde for Santa Fe Opera.
American soprano, Janai Brugger, the 2012 winner of Operalia and of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, made her television debut last season when she sang a specially written requiem composed by Laura Karpman for an episode of HBO’s renowned Lovecraft Country. She returned to Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra and revived one of her favorite roles in Die Zauberflote (Pamina) for performances at Palm Beach Opera’s first Outdoor Opera Festival. More recently, she appeared in Carmen (Micaëla) at Cincinnati Opera and returned to Dutch National Opera for their acclaimed Missa in tempore Belli (Haydn), conducted by Lorenzo Viotti and directed by Barbora Horáková. She also appeared in Porgy and Bess (Clara) in the Metropolitan Opera’s celebrated new production and previously in Dutch National Opera’s 2019 production. She sang in Idomeneo (Ilia) at Lyric Opera of Chicago and she appeared in Le nozze di Figaro (Susanna) at Cincinnati Opera. In her artistic home at Los Angeles Opera, she sang in La clemenza di Tito (Servilia), a role she previously sang at Dutch National Opera. Miss Brugger traveled to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for revival performances in Die Zauberflöte (Pamina) and sang in Turandot (Liù) at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Commanding bass Young Bok Kim has recently dazzled audiences and critics as the title role in Verdi’s Attila, Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Timur (Turandot), Bonze (Madama Butterfly), Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), and Barbarossa in Verdi’s rarely-performed La battaglia di Legnano, all with Sarasota Opera. He will return to Sarasota in 2024 to sing Raimondo (Lucia di Lammermoor).
Mr. Kim made his New York City Opera debut as Colline (La bohème) and went on to sing many other roles with the company, including Zuniga (Carmen), Sarastro and most notably Bonze in their 2008 production of Madama Butterfly, which received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class — Classical Musical / Dance Program. Mr. Kim has also sung with Kentucky Opera, Dallas Opera, Utah Opera, Opera North, Opera New Jersey, Opera Boston, Nashville Opera, Nevada Opera, El Paso Opera, Opera Delaware, Baltimore Concert Opera, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and Teatro Grattacielo, among others.
A native of Korea, Mr. Kim appears frequently on Korean stages, appearing as Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte) with National Opera of Korea and the Seoul Metropolitan Opera, Raimondo and Sarastro with National Opera of Korea, Nino’s Ghost (Semiramide) with City Opera of Seoul, Abbot (Curlew River) with Seoul Metropolitan Opera, and Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with City Opera of Seoul and Kim Sun International Opera.
Praised for his “arrestingly vibrant” and “robust” baritone, Craig Verm has brought his riveting dramatic portrayals to stages around the world. In the 2021-2022 Season, Mr. Verm made a return to one of his signature roles, the title role of Don Giovanni, with San Antonio Opera. In 2022, returns to Madison Opera in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld (Jupiter). Recently, he received high praise for his performances of the title role in Billy Budd for Des Moines Metro Opera. John van Rhein of the Chicago Tribune said, “The strong baritone voice, strapping physique and winning stage presence of Craig Verm created a sympathetic Billy,” and Opera Today said Verm “was every moment the star vocal and theatrical presence that galvanized the performance.” In the 2017-2018 Season, Verm made an impressive debut as a last-minute substitute in the title role of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for The Dallas Opera. His performances received critical acclaim for “succeeding in the daunting assignment…with his own credible realization of the iconic character.” In the 2019-2020 Season, Mr. Verm continued his long-standing relationship with Pittsburgh Opera, opening their season in Don Giovanni, followed by performances in Florencia en el Amazonas (Riolobo). Further performances in the season included his debut at the Barbican Centre in Joby Talbot’s Everest (Doug Hansen), a role he created in performances with The Dallas Opera, Orpheus in the Underworld (Jupiter) with Madison Opera, and La bohème (Marcello) with Opera Naples.
Called “outstanding” and “hilarious” by critics, tenor Alex Mansoori has been hailed as “solid and convincing” and “smartly characterized” by The New York Times. Specializing in character tenor roles, Mr. Mansoori’s varied repertoire runs the gamut from Handel and Mozart to Bernstein and Sondheim. In the 2021-2022 Season, Mr. Mansoori performed with Opera Naples in West Side Story (Action). He also appeared recently with the Naples Philharmonic as the tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah. A favorite on Florida stages, he recently appeared with Opera Tampa in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffman. In the 2017-2018 Season, Mr. Mansoori returned to Opera Naples in his role debut in Puccini’s iconic Madama Butterfly (Goro) and makes his company and role debut in Falstaff (Dr. Caius) for Opera Colorado. He also made his Opera Tampa debut in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Don Basilio and Don Curzio). In the summer of 2018, Mr. Mansoori made his debut at The Tanglewood Festival in multiple roles in Bernstein’s Candide. The production was originally presented with Orlando Philharmonic under director Alison Moritz and will be heard at Tanglewood with the Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra The Knights. In the 2018-19 Season, Mr. Mansoori made his Dallas Opera debut in Falstaff (Bardolfo), joining an all-star cast led by Riccardo Frizza. He also returned to Opera Orlando for his role debuts in Pagliacci (Beppe) and in Les contes d’Hoffmann (Four Servants).
Praised by Opera News as a “vocally charismatic” performer with a “golden tenor,” Martin Bakari‘s recent engagements include the title role in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird (Atlanta Opera, Arizona Opera, Pittsburgh Opera), the tenor soloist in Carmina Burana (Cecilia Chorus of New York – Carnegie Hall), Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro (Seattle Opera and Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival), Goro in Madama Butterfly (Dallas Opera), Prince Claus in Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus (Chicago Opera Theater), Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville (Intermountain Opera Bozeman), The Cartography Project (Washington National Opera and the Kennedy Center), and a United Kingdom recital tour with Mirror Visions Ensemble. Internationally, he has also appeared at major venues in Munich, Hamburg, Dresden, Frankfurt, Cologne, Tel Aviv, and Bari. In the 2022-23 season, Mr. Bakari sings the tenor soloist in the premiere of Paul Moravec’s A Nation of Others (Oratorio Society of New York – Carnegie Hall), Charlie Parker in Yardbird (New Orleans Opera and Dayton Opera), Frederic in Pirates of Penzance (Virginia Opera), the tenor soloist in Messiah (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra), Pong in Turandot (Opera Colorado), Jalil/Wakil/Guard in the premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Seattle Opera), the tenor soloist in Carmina Burana (Symphony San Jose), a concert of arias and songs (Harlem Chamber Players), and recitals of Paul Laurence Dunbar songs (Seattle Opera) and German Lieder with pianist Byron Schenkman (Benaroya Hall – Seattle). Mr. Bakari’s 2023-24 season includes Mime in Das Rheingold (Seattle Opera), Dr. Caius in Falstaff and Wilson (cover) in the premiere of Jake Heggie’s Intelligence (Houston Grand Opera), and the tenor soloist in Messiah (Oratorio Society of New York – Carnegie Hall). A 2018 George London Competition award winner, Mr. Bakari’s recording of Grigory Smirnov’s Dowson Songs (Naxos) was featured by Opera News as a “Critic’s Choice” album. Mr. Bakari is an alumnus of the Juilliard School, Boston University, and Tanglewood Music Center.
A highly energetic, vibrant, and extremely versatile singer and actor, tenor Joseph Gaines has been described as “such an exuberant performer you couldn’t help but smile” (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune). He created the role of Dan Leno in Opera Philadelphia’s world premiere of Elizabeth Cree by the Pulitzer Prize-winning duo of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell; Opera News wrote that the role “offered a field day to light tenor Joseph Gaines, who met the challenge with vocal skill and superb physicality.” Gaines has been a soloist with The Metropolitan Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera, Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, and many others. As a concert soloist, he has been featured with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Detroit Symphony, The Charlotte Symphony, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and many period and chamber ensembles as well. Solo appearances this season include Messiah with the Longmont Symphony, La púrpura de la rosa with Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, and also as Freddie Mercury in a Queen tribute concert with the Larimer Chorale. Gaines studied singing at both the University of Houston and the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Leipzig.
Appointed in 2015 as Opera Colorado’s first-ever music director, Ari Pelto’s “breathtaking wizardry in the pit” (The Denver Post) has been widely celebrated, with Pelto in demand at opera houses and concert halls throughout the United States. At the age of 24, Pelto was appointed Assistant Conductor at the Spoleto Festival and he has since gone on to conduct worldwide. International engagements include performances with Bochumer Philharmoniker and opera productions at New National Theatre of Tokyo and the Teatro Nacional Sucre in Quito, Ecuador. In 2004 he made his highly-praised debut with New York City Opera, conducting La Traviata, after which he became a regular, returning for productions of Madama Butterfly, La bohème, and Carmen. Recent successes include Eugene Onegin at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Lucia di Lammermoor at Virginia Opera, and La Voix Humaine at Chicago Opera Theater.
Iranian pianist and conductor, Sahar Nouri, returns to Opera Colorado for a sixth season, serving as the company’s chorus master, assistant conductor, and pianist coach. Ms. Nouri is the newly appointed music director of the Lamont Opera Theatre at Denver University. While being based in Denver, she continues to serve as guest coach/faculty with various organizations including San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Opera North Carolina, Opera Steamboat and more.
Previously, Ms. Nouri has been a member of the music staff at Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Utah Opera, Aspen Opera Center, Opera Parallèle, and Opera in the Heights. Her repertoire includes numerous classic operas as well as many world premieres such as: Prince of Players (Carlisle Floyd), O Columbia! (Gregory Spears), Steal a Pencil for Me (Gerald Cohen), and Today It Rains (Laura Kaminsky). A multi-lingual, Nouri has done studies in the Czech Republic, Italy, and Austria, and is frequently in demand as a language coach and recitalist.
With her quirky, irreverent style, Aria Umezawa’s work evokes wonder and challenges the long-established traditions of opera and classical music. The stage director, producer, and writer is a co-founder of Amplified Opera, the independent, equity-seeking opera company and current Disruptor-in-Residence at the Canadian Opera Company. Aria was the Artistic Director of Opera 5 from 2012 to 2017. Aria completed two years as an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, a position she earned after her San Francisco debut as a Merola Apprentice Stage Director. Aria has directed Christmas with SOL3 MIO with San Francisco Opera, Thomas’s Hamlet with West Edge Opera, and Poulenc’s La voix humaine with Against the Grain Theatre, the Canadian premieres of Milton Granger’s Talk Opera and Darren Russo’s Storybook (commissioned by Opera 5), and the North American premiere of Cavalli’s Artemisia with Boston’s Helios Opera. An advocate for safe, equitable practices in the opera and performing arts industries, Aria is in demand as a presenter and educator. In 2018, she developed Safe to Run: Bystander Intervention Training for the Rehearsal Room with Opera McGill and the San Francisco Opera Center and has run the workshop at opera companies across North America. That same year she was a speaker on the Gender Equity in Opera panel at the inaugural Opera.ca Opera Changing Worlds Education Summit. With OPERA America, Aria has presented on Anti-Harassment Policies and Stage Intimacy Techniques (2019) and Building a Healthier Company Culture for Artists (2020) and has contributed as a panelist on Managing the Challenges of the Inherited Repertoire (2020) and Breaking Down Gatekeeping (2021). She was an artistic consultant on a new co-production of Madama Butterfly with Opera in the Heights and Pacific Opera Projects.
The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
- 14 2023