Trio of opera at Vilar
Editor’s note: Director’s Corner 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 at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek.BEAVER CREEK – This week the Vilar Center has two wonderful treats for both opera lovers and novices alike, and these are my choices for shows not to be missed. Teatro Lirico D’ Europa will be in town to present “Great Moments in Opera,” as well as a full scale production of Bizet’s beloved “Carmen.” There are very few companies touring opera in this day and age. Yet Teatro Lirico, touring since 1988, is embarking on its eighth U.S. tour with over 80 performances across the country of various full scale operas. This is their third visit to the Vilar Center; last season they presented “La Bohème,” and the year before, “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 including New York, Prague, St. Petersburg, and Kiev. They now present a full season of operas at the Majestic theater in Boston, and have their own subscription audience. 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. Seldom do you have the opportunity to see opera in such an intimate setting. When I go to the Met in New York City, the best seats I can afford are even farther away than the back row of the Vilar Center. Yet most of the operas we see today were written to be performed in much smaller settings than the typical opera houses of major cities. While I realize opera is not for everyone, I can’t think of a better introduction to the art than “Great Moments in Opera.” The evening is comprised of 18 arias, duets and ensemble numbers from eight different operas including “Don Giovani,” “Barber of Seville,” “La Bohème” and “La Traviata.” While all of these selections are greatest hits in their own right, two arias in particular are sure to stop the show – the famous “Queen of the Night” aria from “The Magic Flute,” and “Nessun Dorma” from “Turandot.” Pavoratti often sang “Nessun Dorma” as an encore at his concerts, and it is considered one of the most beautiful arias ever written. And I don’t believe there is an opera in history more popular or successful than Bizet’s “Carmen.” The operatic classic, set in Seville in the mid 19th century, tells the tale of the soldier Don Jose who falls in love with the beautiful Carmen, a free spirited gypsy. The impassioned love he feels for her turns to obsession, and leads to a crime of passion. This enduring tale of forbidden love is sure to move everyone in the audience. For those who can’t get enough – and those who want to know more – I will be hosting Opera 101 on “Carmen” at the Vilar Center on Monday at 6:30 p.m. This casual forum gives me the opportunity to share background information on the composer and the opera prior to the performance. We’ll also listen to a few selections and talk about those. This has become an annual tradition – and a labor of love for me. Just give me the chance, and I thrive on the opportunity to help grow interest in and share a love for the arts. To add to the excitement surrounding the opera, the Vilar Center Guild is hosting a post-performance dinner at the Beaver Creek Club on Tuesday night following “Great Moments in Opera.”Hope to see you at the opera.