Hermann Baumer, Barry Banks and More Set for Crested Butte Music Festival's 2014 OPERA IN PARADISE, Now thru 7/27

Hermann Baumer, Barry Banks and More Set for Crested Butte Music Festival's 2014 OPERA IN PARADISE, Now thru 7/27

The 18th annual Crested Butte Music Festival (CBMF) announces a superb lineup of performances and world-class artists for Opera In Paradise, running from today, July 12 - 27, 2014. Opera lovers will experience the power and passion of opera in intimate settings from Home Soirées in beautiful mountain residences to fully staged productions of Puccini's Suor Angelica and Verdi's Rigoletto at Center for the Arts Crested Butte.

Acclaimed Maestro Hermann Bäumer, world-renowned tenor and artist-in-residence Barry Banks, and up-and-coming opera stars taking part in CBMF's Marcello Giordani Young Artist Program (MGYAP) are among the many featured musicians.

"Over the past 10 years, the festival has gone from being a small fish in the big opera sea to being a well-respected program that is landing top-notch talent. During Opera In Paradise, opera lovers can feast on 16 performances, master classes, and meet-the-artists events," says Festival Director Alexander Scheirle.

For the first time, CBMF will present two main stage operas during Opera In Paradise.

Giacomo Puccini's exquisite one-act opera Suor Angelica will be presented on July 12 and 13. Suor Angelica is the story of a noble-born woman who has been forced to abandon her illegitimate son and enter a convent after being disowned by her family. There, she undergoes a miraculous transition into a state of grace, movingly depicted by Puccini's soaring score.

Soprano Kerri Marcinko makes her CBMF debut in the title role, along with rising mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak as her aunt. The women of the Marcello Giordani Young Artists Program, led by soprano Boya Wei as Sister Genovieffa, portray the convent sisters. Joshua Borths, a graduate of the festival's training program, directs this poignant meditation on what can both enslave and free us.

Next on stage is Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece Rigoletto, which portrays the tragic downfall of a court jester whose beloved daughter, Gilda, has fallen for the lecherous Duke of Mantua. Presented on July 23, 25 and 27, Rigoletto is set to a musical score that is both beautifully melodic and intensely dramatic. The cast, all from the roster of the Metropolitan Opera, includes baritone Hyung Yun as Rigoletto, Jennifer Zetlan as his loving daughter Gilda, Gregory Schmidt as the Duke of Mantua, and Matthew Burns as the paid assassin, Sparafucile. Director Beth Greenberg makes her CBMF debut in this gripping, intensely human drama.

On July 11, CBMF is hosting a free talk, "Everything You Wanted To Know About Puccini and Verdi But Were Afraid To Ask." Maestro Hermann Bäumer, Directors Joshua Borths and Beth Greenberg and CBMF Director of Artistic Administration Mark Moorman will provide an entertaining insider view into the life and influences of the talented composers. Following the talk, the audience can join the speakers for dinner at a local restaurant to continue the discussion.

Hermann Bäumer is this year's opera conductor. Since 2011, Bäumer has been chief conductor of Philharmonic State Orchestra of Mainz and general music director of Mainz State Theater in Germany. Prior to this, he became known for his for innovative work with the Osnabrück Orchestra, including performances in Tehran, Iran, making it the first Western orchestra to perform there since 1979.

Barry Banks, one of the world's leading tenors is this year's CBMF opera artist-in-residence. Banks is known for his magnificent voice and exuberant personality and has starred on stages across the world such as the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro Alla Scala, Milan, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera and the Paris Opera, among others.