When a group of leading local citizens decided to found a major opera company in the early 1980s, they hired the gifted longtime Met resident stage director Nathaniel Merrill – Time magazine said his “productions are among the best that the company has ever mounted” – as the general director. But they also began with a problem: the performing space at Boettcher Hall was circular.
Drawing on his Met connections, Merrill brought Placido Domingo, James McCracken and Catherine Malfitano to the opening season in 1983 and – along with his wife, choral director/vocal coach Louise Sherman – put Opera Colorado firmly on the map during his 15-year tenure. The staging situation was solved in 2005 with the construction of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, which features backlit monitors at every seat to provide translations. The “Ellie,” as it’s known locally, is part of the Denver Performing Arts Complex, second only in size worldwide to New York’s Lincoln Center.
The typical season consists of three operas in a fall/winter/spring sequence. Most are taken from the traditional repertoire (often with innovative staging), with Nixon in China in 2008 a notable exception.
The company boasts one of the nation’s most ambitious education and community outreach programs, with workshops, lectures, tours – primarily by its Young Artist Program – and much more. Generation OC, a new program, introduces students to the workings of an opera company and concludes with the students producing a marketing plan aimed at their peers. Opera Colorado’s bilingual chamber opera La Curandera received OPERA America’s Diversity Award in 2007.
Opera Colorado Information
- Public Transportation: Good (accessible by RTD Light Rail)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: Three productions per season with multiple performances of each
- Ticket Prices: $30–$160, with prices varying by date, time and performance selected. Join E-Mail Club to find out about special ticket offers
- Group Discounts: Groups of 10 or more get a 20% discount and don’t pay ticketing fees
- Subscriptions: Three-opera subscriptions are $87–$399, depending on seat and date selection. Subscriber benefits include ticket exchanges and 15% discount on additional single tickets
- Membership: Donations from $50–$50,000 and up are welcome. Donor benefits include program recognition, dress rehearsal tickets, and invites to special events, depending on donation amount.