Uncover Love’s True Name
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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 and English supertitles above the stage.
Estimated Length: 3 hours, and 15 minutes
*Join us one hour prior to each performance at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House for a free and insightful pre-performance.
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The 40th Anniversary Season is generously sponsored by Marcia & Dick Robinson.
Sets courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Costumes courtesy of Santa Fe Opera.
Dramatic soprano, Kara Shay Thomson continues to build her expansive stage career by creating characters that push the limits both musically and dramatically. This season, Ms. Thomson returns to the role of Leonore in Beethoven’s Fidelio with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She will also be a soloist at the Newport Music Festival, join Lyric Opera of Chicago for its production of Cavalleria Rusticana and reprise the role of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Dayton Opera.
During the 2018-19 season, Ms. Thomson made her debut in the role of Balkis in Goundod’s La Reine de Salba with Opera Odyssey. She followed with Turandot with Sarasota Opera and her debut of Salome with Dayton Opera. Ms. Thomson also performed in several concerts at the Newport Music Festival including Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder.
In the 2017-18 season, Ms. Thomson debuted 2 new roles beginning with Marta in the rarely performed work, Tiefland, by Eugene d’Albert for Sarasota Opera, and Turandot for Dayton Opera. She also made her company debut as Tosca for Arizona Opera and returned to Dayton Opera again as Magda Sorel in The Consul.
Ms. Thomson’s 2016-17 engagements included joining Lyric Opera of Chicago for its production of Berlioz’ Les Troyens, Agäthe in Virginia Opera’s production of Der Freishütz and Tosca with Intermountain Opera.
Recent engagements include Tosca with Sarasota Opera, Kentucky Opera, Dayton Opera, Atlanta Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Portland Opera, and Utah Opera. She has performed Leonore in Beethoven’s Fidelio and the role of Santuzza with Kentucky Opera and Sarasota Opera, Judith in Bluebeard’s Castle with New Millenium Orchestra of Chicago and Opera Omaha. Ms. Thomson gained critical acclaim for her portrayal of Magda Sorel in Menotti’s The Consul for Florida Grand Opera.
Other recent successes include performing The Woman in Schoenberg’s Erwartung with New York City Opera; the title role in Barber’s Vanessa with Sarasota Opera; Tosca with Central City Opera and Santa Fe Opera; Zemfira in Rachmaninoff’s Alekowith the Cincinnati May Festival; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni; Marietta in Die tote Stadt with Washington, DC’s Summer Opera Theatre Company and both the Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia and Miss Jessel in Turn of the Screw with Chicago Opera Theater.
Concert highlights include soprano soloist in Mahler’s 8th Symphony with Berkshire Choral International, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with National Chorale at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, Dvořák’s Te Deum with Cincinnati May Festival, Vier letzte Lieder with Amherst Symphony, and Rachmaninoff’s The Bells at Ravinia Festival.
Tenor Jonathan Burton is engaged to sing the most demanding roles in the tenor repertoire including Cavaradossi in Tosca, Calàf in Turandot, Dick Johnson in Fanciulla del West, and Radames in Aida. He regularly receives rave reviews for his “…bright, heroic tone, [and] clarion power…” For his performance as 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.”
In the current season, Burton joins the roster of The Metropolitan Opera for the first time for their production of Turandot, sings Don Jose in Carmen for Palm Beach Opera, will be heard as Calàf with Maryland Lyric Opera, and will cover the title role in Tristan und Isolde for The Santa Fe Opera. Expected performances in 2020 and 2021 included his German debut as Radames for Deutsche Oper am Rhein and his London debut as Cavaradossi with English National Opera. Additionally, he was to have been heard as Calàf with Saint Louis Symphony alongside Christine Goerke.
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 as Pamina in Die Zauberflote for performances at Palm Beach Opera’s first Outdoor Opera Festival. More recently, she appeared as Micaëla in Carmen 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 the role of Clara in Porgy and Bess in the Metropolitan Opera’s celebrated new production and previously in Dutch National Opera’s 2019 production. She sang the role of Ilia in Idomeneo at Lyric Opera of Chicago and she appeared as Susanna Le nozze di Figaro at Cincinnati Opera. In her artistic home at Los Angeles Opera, she sang the role of Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito, a role she previously sang at Dutch National Opera. Miss Brugger travelled to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for revival performances of Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and sang the role of Liù in Turandot at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Harold Wilson’s 2021-22 season features a return to the Metropolitan Opera for multiple productions, including Boris Godunov, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, The Rake’s Progress, and Elektra, in which he sings the Guardian. In the 2019-20 season, he returned to the Metropolitan Opera to sing as the Doctor in Macbeth and cover Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier. With Opera Colorado, he sang Basilio in The Barber of Seville, Ashby in La fanciulla del West, and Ramfis in Aida. Other past performances include Fasolt in Das Rheingold with Arizona Opera; Dayton Opera as both Timur in Turandot and Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville; Mustafa in L’italiana in Algieri with Sarasota Opera, Oroe in Semiramide with Baltimore Concert Opera and Opera Delaware; Ernesto in Il Pirata with the Caramoor Festival; Polonio in Opera Delaware’s anticipated production of Amleto. Additionally, as a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin for five seasons, he sang over 30 roles with the company!
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, he will return to Madison Opera for the role of Jupiter in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. 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 as Don Giovanni, followed by performances of Riolobo in Florencia en el Amazonas. Further performances in the season included his debut at the Barbican Centre as Doug Hansen in Joby Talbot’s Everest, a role he created in performances with The Dallas Opera, Jupiter in Orpheus in the Underworld with Madison Opera, and Marcello in La bohème 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 the role of Action in West Side Story. He also appeared recently with the Naples Philharmonic as the tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah. A favorite on Florida stages, he will soon appear 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 as Goro in Puccini’s iconic Madama Butterfly and makes his company and role debut as Dr. Caius in Falstaff for Opera Colorado. He also made his Opera Tampa debut in the dual roles of Don Basilio and Don Curzio in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. 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 as Bardolfo in Falstaff, joining an all-star cast led by Riccardo Frizza. He also returned to Opera Orlando for his role debuts as Beppe in Pagliacci and the Four Servants in Les contes d’Hoffmann.
Praised by Opera News as a “vocally charismatic” performer with a “golden tenor”, Martin Bakari continues to distinguish himself as a dynamic artist in a wide array of musical and theatrical genres. A 2018 George London Competition award winner, Mr. Bakari’s 2021-22 season includes the tenor soloist in Carmina Burana at Carnegie Hall with the Cecilia Chorus of New York, Prince Claus in Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus with Chicago Opera Theater, Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville with Intermountain Opera Bozeman, Sportin’ Life in Porgy & Bess at Nashville Opera (COVID19), Goro in Madama Butterfly at Dallas Opera, a United Kingdom recital tour with Mirror Visions Ensemble, Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro at Seattle Opera, and The Cartography Project with the Kennedy Center and Washington National Opera. He also joins the Metropolitan Opera roster covering Mingo in Porgy & Bess. Mr. Bakari’s 2022-23 season includes Charlie Parker in Yardbird at New Orleans Opera and Dayton Opera, Pong in Turandot at Opera Colorado, and a recital at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.
Other recent engagements include Charlie Parker in Yardbird at Pittsburgh Opera, Atlanta Opera, and Arizona Opera, Ferrando in Cosí fan tutte at Syracuse Opera, Triquet in Eugene Onegin at Seattle Opera, Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass with Mr. Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Peter the Honeyman in Porgy & Bess at Seattle Opera and Fort Worth Opera, Mingo in Porgy & Bess at Lyric Opera Kansas City (COVID19) and Atlanta Opera, Tamino in The Magic Flute at Opéra Louisiane, David in John Adams’ I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky at the Cincinnati May Festival (COVID19), Beppe in a virtual production of Pagliacci with Raylynmor Opera, Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony and a double bill of David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field and The Little Match Girl Passion at Portland Opera, La traviata and Le nozze di Figaro at Cincinnati Opera, The Summer King at Pittsburgh Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre, Murasaki’s Moon and Morning Star with On Site Opera, The Long Walk at Utah Opera and Pittsburgh Opera, The Source with LA Opera and Beth Morrison Projects, Messiah with Symphoria, Ellen Reid’s dreams of the new world with PROTOTYPE Festival and Trinity Wall Street, and a Gershwin concert with Brooklyn Art Song Society. Mr. Bakari also premiered and recorded Grigory Smirnov’s song cycle Dowson Songs (Naxos Records) which was featured by Opera News as a “Critic’s Choice” recording.
Since 2016, Mr. Bakari has joined NY Harlem Productions for tours of Porgy & Bess as both Sportin’ Life and Mingo, which have marked his German debuts at Semperoper Dresden, Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutsches Theater München, Alte Oper Frankfurt, and the Kölner Philharmonie, his Israeli debuts in Haifa and Tel Aviv, and his Italian debut at Bari’s Teatro Petruzzelli.
As an Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera from 2014 to 2016, Mr. Bakari sang in productions of HMS Pinafore, Salome, Orpheus in the Underworld, La bohème, Roméo et Juliette, and Der fliegende Holländer. Other 2016 performances included Roméo et Juliette at Opera Carolina, Carmina Burana with the New Hampshire Philharmonic, Porgy & Bess with Opera Noire of NY, and Le nozze di Figaro, Daniel Catán’s Il postino, and Philip Glass’ The Witches of Venice at Opera Saratoga.
Other notable new music credits include the leading tenor roles of Wissam in Tobin Stokes’ Fallujah at the Kennedy Center, Hazel Motes in the premiere of Anthony Gatto’s Wise Blood with Walker Art Center (New Focus Recordings), Marcellus in James Dashow’s Archimedes (Neuma Records), and Lorenzo in William Bolcom’s Lucrezia, Grivet in Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin, Katz in Stephen Paulus’ The Postman Always Rings Twice, and a national tour of Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass (Blue Engine Records/Sony).
Chosen by James Levine to sing in a Tanglewood production of Ariadne auf Naxos, Mr. Bakari spent two summers as a Tanglewood Fellow during which he also sang John Harbison’s Full Moon in March and Milhaud’s L’Enlèvement d’Europe and L’Abandon d’Ariane directed by Mark Morris. Of his performance in Full Moon in March, The New York Times wrote, “Bakari mastered completely the high-tension and occasionally melodic vocal writing”.
In addition to the George London Competition, Mr. Bakari has received major awards from the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition, Orpheus Vocal Competition, Tanglewood, the Juilliard School, and Boston University. He has since been engaged by Palm Beach Opera and has also appeared with Madison Opera, Opera North, Eugene Opera, Opera Ebony, Little Opera Theatre of NY, Pine Mountain Music Festival, and the American Opera Project.
Mr. Bakari is an alumnus of the master’s degree program at Juilliard, the B.M. and Opera Institute programs at Boston University, and the study-abroad program at London’s Royal College of Music. In addition to the numerous opera and musical theatre roles he performed while in Boston, he was an active concert soloist with performances including Elijah at Symphony Hall and a solo concert of Italian arias with the Salem Philharmonic Orchestra.
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 fourth 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.
Aria Umezawa is an artist-innovator who is focused on changing the culture of opera and opera creation. She recently completed an Adler Fellowship with San Francisco Opera (SFO)– the first stage director to be awarded the fellowship in fifteen years. She was the first Canadian stage director to participate in the Merola Opera Program in 2016, where she directed the Grand Finale to critical acclaim. She is the Co-Founder of Amplified Opera, an organization that places equity-seeking artists at the centre of public discourse.
In 2018, Aria developed “Safe to Run: Bystander Intervention Training for the Rehearsal Room” with Opera McGill and the San Francisco Opera Center. She has run the workshop at opera companies across North America. She presented on the topic of Anti-Harassment Policies and Stage Intimacy Techniques at the OPERA America Conference in June 2019 and presented at the 2020 OPERA America Artistic Administrators Forum on Building a Healthier Company Culture for Artists. She was engaged as an artistic consultant on a new production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly co-produced by Opera in the Heights and Pacific Opera Projects. In 2018, she was a speaker on the Gender Equity in Opera panel at the inaugural Opera.ca Opera Changing Worlds Education Summit. Aria’s writing on the practice of whitewash casting in opera was published in “The Globe and Mail” in 2015.
Since 2019, Aria has been on the coaching staff at Opera McGill as their Opera Innovation Consultant, where she works with the Master’s students to produce their own opera projects. During her time at San Francisco Opera she worked with their SFO+ Initiative, which brought experts in Design Thinking to the organization to improve audience engagement. In 2018, she led a team in devising UX Activations to the War Memorial Opera House.
Aria is also the co-founder of the independent opera company, Opera 5, and served as its Artistic Director until 2017. Her work in bringing new audiences to opera prompted a feature on Flare.com entitled Screw the Status Quo: Meet the Millennial Who Made Opera Cool. Selected directing credits include: La voix humaine (Against the Grain Theatre), Christmas With SOL3 MIO (San Francisco Opera); Hamlet (West Edge Opera); and an immersive interpretation of Die Fledermaus (Opera 5).
The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
- 14 2023