Editor's note: Director's Chair is a column where Kris Sabel, who is in charge of cultural programming for the Vail Valley Foundation, gives his expert take on shows not to be missed at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.
This week, the Vilar Performing Arts Center is pleased to present two evenings of opera with Great Moments in Opera on Wednesday and Puccini's masterpiece Madama Butterfly on Thursday.
For those who are reading this article and thinking "opera is not for me - what else have you got?" give me just a few moments to explain why, if you've been on the fence about opera, Wednesday night is your night to try it.
Great Moments is an opera Gala featuring music from some of the most beloved operas performed today. Think "greatest hits of opera," with works from: the Barber of Seville, Tosca, The Marriage of Figaro, La Traviata, and Turnadot as well as a special tribute to Pavarotti. This program is one that will satisfy opera fans, but will also serve as a great introduction to those who may be new to the art form.
The concert features the orchestra, chorus and soloists of Teatro Lirico D'Europa who are returning for their eighth season of performing for our community. For this Gala evening the orchestra will be onstage with singers performing opera's most beloved arias, duets and ensembles in front of them.
The entire evening is made up of hits but I am particularly looking forward to highlights from Puccini's Tosca. This will be like seeing a reader's digest version of the entire opera as the company will perform the most well-known pieces, including: "Vissi d'arte" ("I lived for art" ) one of the great soprano arias of all time, two of the tenors major arias "E lucevan le stelle" ("And the stars shone") and the duet "Qual'occhio al mondo" ("What eyes in the world") between Tosca and Cavadossi, and the moving end of the first act as the chorus sings the beautiful evening prayer "Te deum" and Scarpia's maniacal counter point exclaiming 'Tosca, you make me forget even God!'
Don't worry if you are not familiar with the story of the opera or don't speak Italian, this music is so stirring and moving you can just sit back and let it wash over you, but if you want to follow along the company will project supertitle translations above the stage.
Each year this Gala program features different music and something new this year that I am looking forward to is a tribute to Pavarotti. This section of the concert will feature three canzones (Italian songs), popular songs that the illustrious tenor made famous including "O solo mio" and, of course, no tribute to Pavarotti would be complete without singing the encore he closed every concert with: "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's Turandot.
On Thursday we continue our celebration of Opera for Everyone with one of the most popular and accessible operas of the modern era, Madama Butterfly, Puccini's tale of tragic love set in Japan. Opera America lists this as the most performed opera in the world. For those who want to know more about the opera I will host Opera 101 on Wednesday evening at 5:15 p.m. in the May Gallery, prior to the Great Moments concert. You don't need to attend Wednesday's concert to participate in Opera 101. I will review the story of the opera and provide insight to enhance your enjoyment and understanding of the full performance.
These two evenings provide a great opportunity to explore and experience opera. And thanks in large part to our donor community, we're able to offer the experience at a more accessible price. Great Moments in Opera is $50 for adults, and $25 for students, making it the perfect chance to introduce opera to the next generation of arts lovers.
I'll see you at the show!