Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is America’s first great tragic novel. Published in 1850, the work immediately caught the country’s attention and has never lost its grip. The story could easily be played out today: how individuals react to and survive severely repressive communities saturated with religious dogma. The Scarlet Letter looks at individuals who hold fast to their personal beliefs and secrets, to protect themselves and others; how their mistaken actions result from fears of being judged and disliked; and how people either make peace with their decisions, or live out lives of tortured conflict because of them. We invite you to join us for this world premiere in celebration of new American Opera.
“To create one of the best-known characters from American literature will be a thrilling opportunity. Especially as she is delineated through the deft lyricism of Lori Laitman’s score…a sheer luxury!” – ELIZABETH FUTRAL, SOPRANO
Sung in English with English and Spanish subtitles at every seat.
The Scarlet Letter is sponsored by Ken and Donna Barrow, Dave and Pam Duke, Noël and Thomas Congdon, National Endowment for the Arts and Opera America. Magnolia Hotel is the official sponsor of The Scarlet Letter.
Lori Laitman | Composer
Composer Lori Laitman has been described as “one of the most talented and intriguing of living composers” by Fanfare Magazine. To date, she hascomposed three operas, an oratorio, choral works, and over 250 songs, setting texts by classical and contemporary poets, including the lost voices of those who perished in the Holocaust. A magna cum laude Yale graduate with a Master of Music from Yale’s School of Music, Laitman’s music has been featured on Thomas Hampson’s Song of America radio series and website and in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. Her songs are widely performed internationally and throughout the USA, and her recordings have garnered exceptional praise. The Three Feathers, Laitman’s one-act children’s opera with librettist Dana Gioia, was commissioned by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, and premiered October 2014 in a production directed by Beth Greenberg. Laitman continues her work with poet David Mason, and they are currently developing Ludlow, a new opera based on Mason’s verse novel about the 1914 Colorado mining town disaster.
David Mason | Librettist
Born and raised in Bellingham, Washington, David Mason’s award-winning collections of poetry include The Buried Houses (1991), The Country I Remember (1996), Arrivals (2004), the verse novel Ludlow (2007), and Sea Salt: Poems of a Decade: 2004 – 2014. He has also published a memoir, two collections of essays, and several anthologies. His work appears in Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. As a librettist, Mason collaborated with Lori Laitman on her opera The Scarlet Letter and on an opera adaptation of Ludlow, for which Mason received the 2009 Thatcher Hoffman Smith Creativity in Motion Prize. He wrote the libretto for her oratorio, Vedem, and for Tom Cipullo’s opera, After Life. He has also been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Greece. Mason teaches at Colorado College and was appointed the Colorado poet laureate in 2010.
Ari Pelto | Music Director designee and Conductor
In May 2015, Opera Colorado appointed Ari Pelto as the first Music Director in its history. He will serve as Music Director designee beginning July 1, 2015 and take the helm as Music Director beginning July 1, 2016. Pelto is in demand at elite opera houses, ballets, symphonies, and conservatories throughout the United States. After his highly praised 2004 début at New York City Opera with Verdi’s La Traviata, Pelto was engaged as a regular guest there, returning for Madama Butterfly, Jennifer Griffith’s The Dream President, La bohème, and Carmen. Recent highlights include La bohème with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony; The Cunning Little Vixen at Chautauqua; Rusalka and La bohème at Boston Lyric Opera; Romeo et Juliet at Minnesota Opera; The Magic Flute, Figaro, and Hansel and Gretel at Portland Opera; as well as Carmen and Hansel and Gretel at Utah Opera. He has also been a regular guest conductor of the Atlanta Ballet. In 2012, he collaborated with Twyla Tharp on the premiere of her new ballet, The Princess and the Goblin. Pelto has conducted operas of Mozart and Stravinsky at the Curtis Institute of Music, Gluck and Mozart at the Juilliard School, Puccini and Massenet at San Francisco Conservatory, and Stephen Paulus and Raffaello de Banfield at the Manhattan School of Music. At the Oberlin Conservatory, he has led works of Mahler, Mozart, and Poulenc, and at New York University, works of Sibelius, Brahms, Dvořák, and Martinu. He has also conducted in Italy, Germany, and Bulgaria. Pelto studied violin performance at Oberlin and conducting at Indiana University.
Beth Greenberg* | Director
Beth Greenberg is renowned for her work with the New York City Opera. For the Lincoln Center company she directed original mainstage productions of Tales of Hoffmann and Turandot, as well as many revivals including Der Rosenkavalier, Tosca, La Traviata, Intermezzo, and La bohème. Across the East River, aboard an historic oil tanker moored in Red Hook, Brooklyn, she recently directed a site-specific production of Puccini’s Il Tabarro. Beth Greenberg has earned a solid reputation for her collaborations with contemporary composers. She works on all phases of a new show’s development, from early libretto and workshop readings to fully-staged productions. Recent world premieres include The Three Feathers children’s opera by Lori Laitman and librettist Dana Gioia and The Red Silk Thread by Stella Sung. She’s also currently involved with many operas in development, including Steal a Pencil for Me by Gerald Cohen and Deborah Brevoort, Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman, and The Enchanted Organ by Gordon Beeferman. Her original productions have been seen worldwide with Carmen in Tokyo and Tosca in Lima, Peru. In America she has staged Aida for Utah Festival Opera; Lucia di Lammermoor and Don Pasquale for the Pittsburgh Opera Center; Eugene Onegin for Opera Delaware; Rigoletto for the Crested Butte Music Festival in Colorado; and Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, and Barber for The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice. She was awarded a Fulbright to Germany where she apprenticed with Gotz Friedrich at Berlin’s Deutsche Oper. As an educator she has been a Mentor Director for the SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers) Foundation, and has taught master classes at SongFest and Mannes.
Elizabeth Futral | Hester Prynne
American soprano Elizabeth Futral has established herself as one of the world’s leading sopranos. With her stunning vocalism and vast dramatic range, she has embraced a repertoire that ranges from the Baroque to world premieres. During the 2015/2016 season Ms. Futral appears as the Beggar Woman in a new production of Sweeney Todd at the San Francisco Opera, the title role in the Merry Widow for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Scarlet Letter for Opera Colorado. The previous season found her singing her first Mimi in La bohèmewith Opera Birmingham, and Miss Hedgehog in Tobias Picker’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox with Opera San Antonio and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Concert performances included the gala opening of the Tobin Center in San Antonio, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Mahler Symphony No. 4 with the Roanoke Symphony, Strauss’ Four Last Songs and Mahler 4 with the Charleston Symphony, and the Mozart Requiem and Exultate, jubilate with the Colorado Symphony led by Pinchas Zukerman. She also performed in recital at Louisiana State University and Washington & Lee University.
Dominic Armstrong* | Arthur Dimmesdale
Dominic Armstrong has quickly established himself internationally as an artist of superb and distinguished musicality and characterization. He is a winner of the 2013 George London Foundation Vocal Competition. This season, Armstrong debuts with the New York Philharmonic in performances of Britten’s Spring Symphony, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert. Additionally, he essays his first performance of Cavaradossi in Tosca with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, sings the First Jew in Salome with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia, appears in holiday concerts with the Oregon Symphony, in recital with the Brooklyn Art Song Society, in Mozart’s Requiem with the Lansing Symphony, with both the Symphony in C and Princeton Symphony for Britten’s Serenade and in recital with Christine Brewer and Craig Rutenberg. Armstrong has received numerous prizes and awards, including placement as a Grand Finalists in the 2008 National Council Auditions with the Metropolitan Opera, and with the George London Foundation, the Sullivan Awards, Opera Index, the Gerda Lissner Vocal Competition and the Liederkranz Art Song Competition (2009 winner). He holds degrees from Truman State University, The Juilliard School and Curtis Institute.
Malcolm MacKenzie* | Roger Chillingworth
Having a “rich vocal range full of inviting nuance,” Malcolm MacKenzie is quickly capturing attention in dramatic baritone repertoire. Current engagements include Germont in La traviata with Virginia Opera; and Schaunard in La bohème with San Diego Opera. Recent engagements have included a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Dancaïre in Carmen; the title role in Simon Boccanegra with Kentucky Opera; Belcore in L’Elisir d’amore and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with San Diego Opera; Iago in Otello and Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West with Nashville Opera; Count di Luna in Il trovatore with Arizona Opera; and Alfio/Tonio in Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci with Arizona Opera. Other performances have included La traviata with Glimmerglass Opera; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Sacramento Opera; the baritone soloist for Horatio Parker’s Hora Novissima with the Pacific Master Chorale; and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Reno Philharmonic.
Daniel Belcher | Governor Bellingham
Winner of a 2010 Grammy Award, baritone Daniel Belcher has performed in many of the world’s music capitals and returns to Opera Colorado following his appearance in 2013 as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. With a 50-role repertoire, Belcher has championed roles from the Baroque to those composed expressly for him. He came to international attention in 2004 creating the role of Prior Walter in Peter Eötvös’ Angels in America for the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Belcher most recently created the role of Robert Kennedy in Robin de Raaff’s Waiting for Miss Monroe for his debut at The Netherlands Opera and Holland Festival. In the 2013-14 season, Belcher makes his debut with the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm, Sweden in Kaija Saariaho’s Sombre. He will also return to Lyric Opera of Kansas City in the role of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, to Opera Omaha as Dandini in La Cenerentola and to Utah Opera as Ping in Turandot, and he will perform in recital at Houston’s Zilkha Hall, among other venues. He received a Robert Jacobson Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation, a Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation for his work with Wolf Trap Opera and the Sullivan Foundation Award. He received the Apprentice Artist Award from the Santa Fe Opera and the Young Artist Award and Outstanding Studio Artist Award from Central City Opera.
Margaret Gawrysiak* | Mistress Hibbons
Margaret Gawrysiak, mezzo-soprano, recently performed Vera Boronel in The Consul with Seattle Opera; Ježibaba in Rusalka with North Carolina Opera; Frugola in Il tabarro with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica with Crested Butte Music Festival; Dame Quickly in Falstaff, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd with Wolf Trap Opera; Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, Gertrude/Witch in Hansel and Gretel, Marzelline in Le nozze di Figaro with Virginia Opera; and Zita in Gianni Schicchi at the Castleton Festival. Current engagements for Margaret include Marquise in La file du Régiment with Arizona Opera; and Mrs. De Rocher in Dead Man Walking with Dayton Opera. As a graduate of Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program she was featured as Dinah in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Olga in Eugene Onegin, and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.