Pure opera in Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

Pure opera in Beaver Creek

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

Giorgio Lalov would never mess with a classic opera like “Tosca.”

Sure, some companies insist on updating the setting from 19th-century Rome to, say, modern Germany.

Lalov isn’t into that.

“I never modernize,” the artistic director of Teatro Lirico D’Europa said. “I hate that. If everybody start doing that, composers like [Giacomo] Puccini would turn in his grave.”

Intent on keeping it real, the European opera company will present a traditional version of “Tosca” this week in Beaver Creek.

Those who go should pack some tissues.

“Tosca” is a tragic love story about a singer who suspects her man is cheating, hooks up with her archenemy, then discovers that her archenemy had been lying to her about a life-or-death matter. Sound like an episode of “Laguna Beach”?

It has just as much drama, plus a stabbing and execution scene.

The opera may be more than a century old, but the love story is still relevant in modern times, Lalov said.

“You change the model of the car but the relationship between human beings is still the same,” he said.

Lalov knew what he was looking for in a heroine.

“First of all, she had to be a beautiful girl AND have a great voice,” he said. “Sometimes, even in metropolitan opera, you see a wonderful voice that will perform Tosca and then you see a lady that is 300 pounds, see what I’m saying? Then next to her, Cavaradossi, the tenor, is skinny and short. For me, it’s unacceptable.”

To find an acceptable Tosca, Lalov auditioned more than 100 singers in Moscow, Europe and New York.

He found her in the Big Apple: A Russian native with a “soft, soft, soft voice” ” a blonde named Elena Razgueva who barely knows a word of English, but has been speaking to American audiences.

Because most cast members had performed “Tosca” before, they rehearsed for just 10 days in a Bulgarian theater before hitting the road. The tour started in the Washington DC area in January and concludes in Atlanta, Ga. in March.

To compliment the singers, the company will perform with a 35-piece orchestra and 20 chorus members. Unwilling to cut the composition to adapt it to a small orchestra, Lalov insists on staying true to the original piece.

As he tours the country, he enjoys spreading arias to places like Beaver Creek that lack opera companies of their own.

Edwards resident Esta Venter adores opera.

“It’s soul food,” she said. “There’s so little around.”

So when she heard the opera company was poised to sweep into town, she decided to see “Tosca.”

“It’s the eternal love triangle,” she said. “The love and the tragedy. It’s kind of everyday life, you know? It’s kind of classical country music. There’s always the hero and the victim and the one who suffers. All of it, I really just love.”

To spread the love, Venter has been encouraging customers at the cashmere boutique in Beaver Creek where she works to sample opera. Even if they’re reluctant to try “Tosca,” she urges them to attend “Great Moments in Opera,” a sort of greatest hits compilation the company will perform Monday night.

“They can go and experience that because most people think, ‘Oh, it’s a whole evening. I can’t bear it but [Great Moments] gives them the variety,” Venter said. “It gives them an introduction into how beautiful opera is.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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