PREMIERED MARCH 4, 2021
This program is no longer available. Thank you for your interest in our Opera Colorado Amplified programming.
Opera Colorado presents an encore presentation of Tom Cipullo’s Josephine and an original, multimedia program in this digital double-bill.
The one-act opera Josephine casts a spotlight on jazz-age icon and civil rights activist Josephine Baker. Laquita Mitchell reprises her role in this intimate portrayal, previously presented at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art in 2019.
Then, embark on a journey through American history that highlights the challenges, opportunities, and successes of the Black experience with The Promise of Living. Laquita Mitchell and Nmon Ford are the creators and stars of this multimedia program featuring Israel Gursky, Denver’s own Davis Contemporary Dance Company, poetry, and music by Copland, De Falla, Price, and more. Explore enslavement and exodus, war and rebellion, and the promise of the American dream—the promise of living—in this unique digital concert.
Music by: Tom Cipullo, Aaron Copland, Manuel de Falla, Florence Price, and more
Language: Performed in Spanish and English
Estimated Length: Approximately 90 minutes
DISCLAIMER: Josephine contains the use of strong language. Viewer discretion is advised.
Produced in partnership with:
Soprano Laquita Mitchell consistently earns acclaim on eminent international opera and concert stages, leading performances with Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Opéra Comique in Paris, New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra, among many others. This season, she performed Violetta in La Traviata with Edmonton Opera and reprises the role of Bess in Porgy and Bess with Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Grange Park Opera in the UK. Upcoming engagements include a reprisal of her performance of Paul Moravec’s Sanctuary Road, a piece she previously performed at its world-premiere at Carnegie Hall with Oratorio Society of New York, and a role debut as Aida in Aida.
Panamanian-American baritone, Nmon Ford, steps into new territory in 2020 by performing the title role Orpheus: a house music opera, written by the artist, which has a Spring run scheduled at London’s Young Vic Theatre directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. At Dallas Symphony Orchestra he sings performances of A Sea Symphony under the baton of Robert Spano. No stranger to London, Nmon won exceptional reviews when he appeared as Crown in Porgy & Bess last season in a new production which transfers this season to the Metropolitan Opera; Nmon returns to the role in Vienna, Austria, next year. Other roles recent appearances include Jochanaan in Salome with Patricia Racette at Pittsburgh Opera, Don Pizzaro in Fidelio with Christine Goerke at Cincinnati Opera and in concert with Atlanta Symphony, Iago in Otello with Russell Thomas in the title role.
Earlier in his career Mr Ford sang often at Hamburg State Opera in Germany and appeared as Scarpia in Tosca, Luna in Il Trovatore, the title role in Billy Budd, The Traveler in Death in Venice, and Thoas in Iphigenie en Tauride under the baton of Simone Young. Other roles in the artist’s operatic repertoire include Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde, Telramund in Lohengrin, Amonasro in Aida, Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera, Posa in Don Carlo, Pere Germont in La Traviata and the title role in Rigoletto.
Often appearing on the concert platform with the great orchestras of the world, Nmon Ford is a popular choice for the principal baritone part in Bernstein’s Songfest which he recently sang with two different BBC orchestras in the UK–in Scotland and at the Barbican Centre in London. At the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Centre in 2018, he took the part of the Celebrant in Bernstein’s Mass which won him great accolades and outstanding reviews. Further concert repertoire comprises Shostakovich’s Thirteenth Symphony (Babi Yar), Carmina Burana, the Requiem of Brahms and of Faure, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Kindertotenlieder,
and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
His recordings include two Grammy-award winning discs: Naxos’ Songs of
Innocence and Experience, and Teldarc’s Transmigrations. With Atlanta Symphony under conductor Robert Spano, he recorded Jennifer Higdon’s Dooryard Bloom, written for him. Nmon received critical acclaim at Spoleto Festival in the title role Don Giovanni (c: Emmanuel Villaume); he appeared as Riolobo at Cincinnati Opera and at Utah Opera, and at Michigan Opera Theater as Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles; further roles include Amfortas in Parsifal at Los Angeles Opera in Robert Wilson’s production (c: Kent Nagano) where he covered Plácido Domingo; Luna in Il trovatore at Virginia Opera where he also sang Iago in Otello; in the title role of Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth in a new production at Chicago Opera Theatre and at Long Beach Opera; Belcore in L’elisir d’amore at San Francisco Opera (c: Maurizio Barbacini) and at Opera Memphis he sang the role of Amonasro in Aida.
In Hungary, he sang Escamillo in Carmen at the Szeged Open-Air Festival, and he performed at Opéra National de Bordeaux as Jochanaan in a new production of Salome. The artist’s engagements in Italy include his debut at Teatro delle Muse Ancona in the title role The Emperor Jones (c: Bruno Bartoletti) and in the title role in Don Giovanni, a role he also sang in Pier Luigi Pizzi’s production at Teatro Comunale di Bologna; additionally, he appeared at Sferisterio Festival in new productions of Attila and Juditha Triumphans, and as Escamillo in Carmen in both Padova and Rovigo.
His awards include First Place in the Wagner Division of the Liederkranz Foundation of New York Competition, as well as major prizes from the Gerda Lissner Foundation and the George London Foundation. He earned his Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees in music from the University of Southern California, where he graduated with honors for both degrees.
Conductor Israel Gursky has been making a name for himself both in Europe and in the US. Born in Tel Aviv and trained in New York, he has made his professional conducting debut in 2007, leading critically-acclaimed performances of Don Giovanni at the Washington National Opera. Since then, he has guest-conducted with Los Angeles Opera (Le Nozze di Figaro, The Fly), Teatro de Bellas Artes and the Cervantino Festival (Catán’s Il Postino), Wolf Trap Opera (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Opera Maine (La Bohème, Hänsel und Gretel, Roméo et Juliette), Opera Birmingham (Faust, Madama Butterfly, Die Zauberflöte), Manhattan School of Music (Così fan tutte), University of Michigan (Albert Herring), Yale School of Music (Die Zauberflöte) and returned to the Washington National Opera for performances of Tosca, Don Pasquale, Falstaff and Così fan tutte.
Between 2014 and 2017 he was Kapellmeister of Theater Regensburg in Germany, where he has conducted over 120 performances of operas including Rigoletto, Madama Butterfly, Martha, Hans Heiling, Cosi fan tutte, Iphigénie en Tauride and Die Zauberflöte among many others.
Since the 2017-18 season he has been Kapellmeister of Theater Bremen where this fall he returns to conduct Un ballo in maschera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, L’étoile and the New Years’s Gala.
A frequent collaborator with Plácido Domingo, he has since 2009 conducted many of Mr. Domingo’s concerts throughout the world, as well as many concerts featuring winners of Operalia competition.
Maestro Gursky began his association as principal conductor of NYC’s Teatro Grattacielo in 2012 with Montemezzi’s La Nave, followed by Alfano’s Sakùntala, Giordano’s Siberia, Gnecchi’s Cassandra, Zandonai’s Il grillo del focolare, and the 20th Anniversary gala of the company.
He is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music, Stony Brook University and the Rubin Academy of Music, and has trained at the Tanglewood Music Center, Merola Opera Program and the Verbier Festival. He has studied conducting with Otto-Werner Müller, Kenneth Kiesler and David Gilbert, piano with Arie Vardi and Gilbert Kalish, and accompanying with Thomas Muraco and Dalton Baldwin.
Dance That Feeds Your Soul
Davis Contemporary Dance Company (Davis Dance) has been formed for charitable purposes with the intent of furthering dance education, and the art of concert dance. Davis Dance is a multicultural, world-class arts organization, whose mission is to enrich the lives of many through the powerful language of dance. Rooted in the disciplines of Contemporary Jazz Dance, but not limited by one style. Davis Dance will touch any audience at its core and elevate it to greater heights.
Our mission is to bring a greater awareness of dance to many diverse audiences, especially those who’ve never been exposed to the beauty of dance. Davis Dance will always be accessible to all people, over looking all economic and social standings. We will continue to broaden people’s horizons to dance, by using live performances, master classes, children’s workshops, lecture demonstrations, and collaborations with other great artists.