A tragic love triangle in Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek CO, Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado
Editor’s note: Director’s Chair is a weekly 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.
Next week the Vilar Performing Arts Center has two wonderful treats for both opera lovers and novices alike. Teatro Lirico D’ Europa will be in town to present “Great Moments in Opera,” as well as a full scale production of Verdi’s “Aida” ” one of the most popular operas of all time.
There are very few companies touring opera in this day and age. Yet Teatro Lirico, touring since 1988, is embarking on its 10th U.S. season, with more than 80 performances of full-scale operas presented in theatres across the country.
This is their fifth visit to the Vilar Center, with past performances including “Tosca,” “Carmen,” “La Boheme” and “La Traviata.” What makes these tours so amazing is that they travel with an orchestra of 45, a chorus of 40 and seasoned soloists chosen from auditions around the world.
I must admit it is a challenge to fit a company of this size into the Vilar Center, but that challenge is part of what makes the performance so invigorating. It’s like having an opera performed in your home. Seldom do you have the opportunity to see opera in such an intimate setting. The major opera houses in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and even Denver are typically about six times larger than the Vilar. Yet most of these operas were written to be performed in much smaller spaces.
For those who are opera curious but have not taken the plunge, I can think of no better introduction to the art form than “Great Moments in Opera” on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The evening is comprised of overtures, arias, duets and ensemble numbers from the most beloved operas of all time. The evening’s program includes numbers from Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” Bizet’s “Carmen,” Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” “Turandot” and “La Boheme.”
Each of these selections are ‘greatest hits’ in their own right, and the beauty of this format is that each member of the audience may have a different favorite. Those of you who think you know nothing about opera will be surprised when you realize how much of this music you recognize from the movies, TV commercials or Bugs Bunny cartoons. One aria sure to bring the house down is Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s “Turnadot.” Considered one of the most beautiful arias ever written, Pavarotti often choose this as his concert encore.
If after “Great Moments in Opera” you find you want more, we have it ” a full production of Verdi’s “Aida” performed Monday night at 6:30 p.m.
First performed in 1871, “Aida” is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire. It appears high on Opera America’s list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America.
The story centers around an intimate and tragic love triangle that puts modern day soap operas to shame. It’s the tale of Aida, once an Ethiopian princess, who is now enslaved by Amneris, the Pharaoh’s daughter. Amneris is deeply in love with Radames, a young, idealistic military commander, who in turn is besotted with Aida. Their tragic tale is set against the backdrop of the Pyramids of Egypt, and productions are often over-the-top in terms of scenic design and the use of live animals onstage. Though you won’t see any live elephants at the Vilar on Monday night ” you will hear Verdi’s timeless operatic score, presented by some of the best touring opera performers in the world today.
For those who want a little more background on “Aida,” we will present Opera 101 on Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Vilar Performing Arts Center lobby. This 30-minute discussion will give more background on Verdi, the story of the opera and will offer some insight into what to listen and look for in Monday’s production.
Audiences have loved the past performances by Teatro Lirico D’Europa at the Vilar; I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to see them for this return engagement.