Central City Opera Presents THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Now thru 8/10

Central City Opera Presents THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Now thru 8/10

Audiences of all ages can hum along to their favorite songs like "Edelweiss," "My Favorite Things" "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and title song "The Sound of Music" when Central City Opera (CCO) brings to Denver one of the most popular Broadway productions of all time, The Sound of Music. Rodgers and Hammerstein II's Tony Award winning musical, which was also an Academy Award winning movie, is Central City Opera's final production for the 2014 Festival. The Sound of Music will be performed at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex for seven performances only from today, August 2 through August 10. Directed by Ken Cazan, who also directed CCO's critically acclaimed production of Dead Man Walking this summer, The Sound of Music will be performed in English with a full live orchestra. Single tickets range from $30 to $106.

Based on Maria von Trapp's memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria is a sweet young nun-in-training whose love of freedom makes it obvious to her superiors that she is not quite suited for religious life. She is sent off to be the governess to Captain von Trapp's seven troublesome children, and unlike past governess', Maria becomes friends with the children due to their mutual love of music. Even the strict Captain begins to admire Maria and, eventually, the Captain and Maria fall in love and are married. All seems right in the world of the von Trapps until the Nazis invade their homeland of Austria and the whole family is forced to flee over the Alps to escape.

Says Cazan, "I deeply admire the Captain's convictions to fight fascism...He chooses to demonstrate to his children that there are moments when one has to stand up for one's beliefs, even though the penalty may be severe. I believe that he could not have done this without the support of Maria...Maria was a hearty, "peasant" woman with strong religious convictions. In using those strengths to support the Captain, she empowers him and the children to move forward...to defy what was rapidly becoming the most heinous and infamous war machine in the history of civilization."

The original Broadway production opened in 1959, and the show has enjoyed numerous productions and revivals since then. It was adapted as a 1965 film musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer and won five Academy Awards. In December of 2013, NBC presented The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood in the first live musical broadcast on television in 56 years, which drew huge ratings with more than 18 million viewers. Many songs from the musical have become classics including "Edelweiss," "My Favorite Things," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Do-Re-Mi," "The Sound of Music," "The Lonely Goatherd" and many more.

Rising conductor Craig Kier* makes his CCO debut this year. He made is Glimmerglass Festival debut this past summer conducting Weill's Lost in the Stars, and also recently made his debut at the Royal Opera House leading performances of The Music Man. Mr. Kier is the Associate Conductor and Assistant Chorus Master for the Houston Grand Opera, where he serves as cover conductor and a member of the coaching faculty of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. He has also conducted with the Santa Fe Opera, Atlanta Ballet, Houston Ballet, The Atlanta Opera, Seattle Opera and the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Locally, Mr. Kier previously served on the music staff of Opera Colorado and spent six years on the faculty of the Opera Theatre of the Rockies Vocal Arts Symposium. Recent credits include Die Fledermaus with the Houston Grand Opera, Il barbiere di Sivigila with the Atlanta Opera and La boheme with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

British Soprano Katherine Manley returns to CCO to perform as Maria, a role she performed to great acclaim with Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 2011/12. Ms. Manley made her U.S. and CCO debuts as Oriana in the 2011 CCO production of Amadigi di Gaula. As one who "has all the makings of a star, including a commanding stage presence and a fresh, spellbinding voice," as stated by Kyle MacMillan of The Denver Post, Ms. Manley's roles have included Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia at Angers/Nantes Opera, Virtu in L'Incoronazione di Poppea for Glyndebourne Touring Opera, and Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Garsington Opera. Most recently, Ms. Manley performed Euridice in La descente d'Orphée with Wigmore Hall, Soprano in Natural History with Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele, Soprano Soloist in Memoryhouse with The Barbican, and Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady with Théâtre du Châtelet.

Baritone Troy Cook returns to CCO to perform the role of patriarch, Captain Georg von Trapp, after his performances as Gaylord Ravenal in last year's acclaimed Show Boat. In 2012, he made his CCO debut as Marcello in La bohème, a role he has performed often including with Opera Company of Philadelphia and Semperoper Dresden in Germany. Some of Mr. Cook's additional roles have included Mr. Flint in Billy Budd and Figaro in The Barber of Seville with the San Francisco Opera, Giacomo in Beatrix Cenci with the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Morales in Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera, Father Palmer in Silent Night with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Lord Cecil in Maria Stuarda with the Washington Concert Opera. His recent credits include Paolo in Simon Boccanegra with Kentucky Opera, Riccardo in I puritani with the Boston Lyric Opera, and Marquis de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

London-based American-born soprano Lucy Schaufer* makes her CCO debut in the role of the baroness, Elsa Schraeder. She has performed all over the world in roles including Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with New Zealand Opera, Ma Moss in The Tender Land with Opéra de Lyon, Soloist in Upon Silence with Settembre Musica Festival, Milan and Turin, Page in Salome, Blumenmadchen in Parsifal and Suzuki in Madama Butterly with the Metropolitan Opera, and many more. This past spring, Ms. Schaufer recorded her first solo album, "Carpentersville," which was co-produced with ABC Classics in Australia. Recent credits include Jenny in Higglety Pigglety Pop with the Aldeburgh Festival, the Barbican, Der Trommler in Der Kaiser von Atlantis with Opéra de Lyon, and Margaret Johnson in the European premiere of The Light in the Piazza with The Curve, Leicester.

Tenor Ian O'Brien returns to CCO for the role of Rolf, Liesl's love interest, after performing the role of Ambrogio last year in The Barber of Seville. He was previously a CCO Bonfils-Stanton Studio Artist and in 2013 he was the recipient of the company's John & Ginney Starkey Award. Mr. O'Brien was also an Opera Tampa Young Artist. Recent credits include Beppe in I Pagliacci, St. Brioche in The Merry Widow, and Gobin in La Rondine with Opera Tampa.

A 2014 CCO Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist, soprano Julie Tabash* makes her debut with the company as the lovesick eldest daughter of the Von Trapp family, Liesl. Ms. Tabash was a member of the Florentine Opera Studio for the 2013-14 season and her recent roles include Despina in Così Fan Tutte, Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music, and solo performances for both musical theater reviews and concerts featuring the music of Giuseppe Verdi with the Pine Mountain Music Festival in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The role of the lovable and strong Mother Abbess will be played by mezzo-soprano Maria Zifchak, who returns this summer following her role as housekeeper Mrs. Grose in 2012's The Turn of the Screw. Ms. Zifchak also sang the role of Mrs. Patrick De Rocher in this year's Dead Man Walking. Ms. Zifchak made her CCO company debut as Madame de la Haltière in Cendrillon in 2007, and returned as Bianca in The Rape of Lucretia and Mrs. McLean in Susannah in 2008. A frequent performer with the Metropolitan Opera, Ms. Zifchak has performed there as Annina in La Traviata, Inez in Il Trovatore and Kasturbai in Satyagraha. She has also played Genevieve in Pelléas and Mélisande and both the Mother and the Witch in Hänsel and Gretel with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Dorabella in Così fan tutte with Seattle Opera and Arizona Opera. Most recently, Ms. Zifchak sang the role of Brian's Mother in Two Boys and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with The Metropolitan Opera, and Ruth in Pirates of Penzance with Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

Baritone Robert Orth makes his return to CCO to perform the role of the fun-loving and mischievous "Uncle" Max Detweiler, following his acclaimed performances in the role of Frederik Egerman in CCO's 2009 production of A Little Night Music. He also previously performed with the company as Horace Tabor in the 50th anniversary production of The Ballad of Baby Doe in 2006. A company veteran, several previous appearances include Lescaut in Manon (1994) and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus (1991). Mr. Orth was highly touted for his portrayal of the role of Richard Nixon in Nixon in China, which he performed with Opera Colorado. Also performing the role of Owen Hart in this summer's CCO production of Dead Man Walking, other recent credits include Simon Powers in Death and the Powers with the Dallas Opera, Howie Albert in Champion with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Stubb in Moby-Dick with the San Francisco Opera.

The additional Von Trapp children will be played by members of the Colorado Children's Chorale (celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014): Grant Bradow as Friedrich von Trapp; Margaret Pilkington as Louisa von Trapp; Grace Pouliot as Brigitta von Trapp; Cooper Causey as Kurt von Trapp; Kaylee Rooks as Marta von Trapp; and, Lucy Crile as Gretl von Trapp.

Members of Central City Opera's Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program round out the remainder of the cast: Katherine Weber as Ursula; Evan Bravos as Herr Zeller; Timothy J. Bruno as Baron Elberfeld; Kelsey Ankerson Park as Baroness Elberfeld and Chant Leader; Isaac Bray as Admiral von Schreiber; Phoenix Gayles as A New Postulant; Tatiana Ogan as Sister Berthe; Leah Bobbey as Sister Margaretta; and, Samantha Gossard as Sister Sophia.

The director of last summer's Our Town, Oklahoma! in 2012, and 2011's three one-acts, Ken Cazan returns to CCO to direct Sound of Music (and Dead Man Walking) in 2014 after his other recent credits with the company of 2010's Three Decembers, A Little Night Music in 2009 and the sold-out West Side Story in 2008. As the Chair of Vocal Performing Arts and Opera and the Resident Stage Director for the Flora A. Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, Mr. Cazan is one of America's most sought-after directors, having staged more than 150 productions of opera, musical theater, and plays in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

David Martin Jacques returns this summer for his 14th festival as Resident Lighting Designer. He has been lauded for his design of more than 300 theatre, opera, television, dance and special event productions. Recent work includes Tristan und Isolde for Teatro la Fenise, The Fall of the House of Usher for Chicago Opera Theatre and A Midsummer Night's Dream with Teatro dell'Opera Roma. Wig/Makeup Designer Dave Bova returns to CCO for the third year. Mr. Bova's recent work has included Two Gentlemen of Verona with The Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Fallow with People's Light and Theatre and Red with the George Street Playhouse. Legendary fashion designer, Bill Blass, designed the costumes that will be worn by the Von Trapp children.

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