Two opera ‘treats’ coming to Beaver Creek |

Two opera ‘treats’ coming to Beaver Creek

Kris Sabel
Vail CO, Colorado
AE Kris Sabel 12-28-06 KH

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 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 “Tosca,” Puccini’s most dramatic work.

There are very few companies touring opera in this day and age. Yet Teatro Lirico, touring since 1988, is embarking on its ninth U.S. tour with more than 80 performances across the country of various full-scale operas. This is the group’s fourth visit to the Vilar Center; past performances have included “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 five to six times larger than the Vilar Center. Yet most of these operas were written and originally performed in much smaller settings.

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.” The evening includes 18 arias, duets and ensemble numbers from “The Barber of Seville,” “Madama Butterfly,” “Tosca” and “La Traviata.” All of these beloved moments are performed by international soloist backed by an onstage, 45-piece orchestra.

While each of these selections is a songbook of ‘greatest hits’ in its own right, two of my favorite moments in opera will be included. The first is the hopeful yet tragic “Un bel di Vedremeo” from “Madama Butterfly.” This aria has been used in countless commercials and films, and I will never forget the poignant and creepy moment of life imitating art when Glenn Close plays it for Michael Douglas in the film “Fatal Attraction.” My second favorite is Germont’s aria “Di Provenza il Mar” from “La Traviata,” in which he implores his son to come home. It’s a passionate and beautiful moment between father and son.

If after “Great Moments in Opera” you find you want more, and we have it ” a full production of Puccini’s tempestuous tale of cruelty and deception, “Tosca.” Glorious, luscious music and a thrilling, unexpected story line have made “Tosca” a favorite ever since its first performance more than 100 years ago. The most famous tenors and sopranos in contemporary opera history have coveted the principal roles for the breathtaking arias and challenging acting that bring to life the high drama of love torn apart by intrigue and jealousy. In the story, Floria Tosca, a famous prima donna, must give herself to treacherous police chief Scarpia to save her lover from execution. But Scarpia double-crosses Tosca in a shocking ending that will make you gasp with horror!

Audiences have loved the past performances by Teatro Lirico at the Vilar Center; I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to see them for this return engagement.

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