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Opera Lafayette Goes West For LIVE/AUDIENCE Performances

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Cattle, barns, mountains, and bales of hay serve as a real-life backdrop to an 18th-century French opera adapted to the 19th-century American West.

Opera Lafayette has announced upcoming performances of The Blacksmith (Le Maréchal ferrant) on October 9, 10, and 11, 2020 at the Reddert Ranch outside Mancos, Colorado.

Originally scheduled for the Mancos Opera House, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the performances are now taking place outdoors at the ranch, in front of the historic Menefee Barn and Blacksmith Shop on Echo Basin Rd. Bales of hay in the meadow in front of the barn will designate the areas where each group can sit safely distanced from other audience members and at least 25 feet from the performers.

The performances will begin at 5:00 p.m. each evening and end at sunset. Opera Lafayette plans to perform the production in New York City and Washington, DC when permitted and safe. A filmed version of the Macos production will be available for streaming in later fall. More details to follow.

Composed by Françoise-André Danican Philidor in 1861, this modern premiere of The Blacksmith marks the first time Opera Lafayette translates an 18th-century French opéra comique to be sung and spoken in English. Recapturing the humor and immediacy of the original, the company has adapted the story to the late 19th-century American west, The translation is by Nick Olcott with the adaptation by Olcott and Ryan Brown, Opera Lafayette's founder and artistic director, from the French libretto by Françoise-Antoine Quétant. Opéra comique originally integrated French vaudeville songs, allowing for audience sing-alongs. Brown has woven American folk songs from the Alan Lomax Collection, popular during the turn of the 19th century in America, into this adaptation. This production bridges country and city, celebrates rural themes, and invites audience participation by joining in to sing familiar folk songs like, "The Old Grey Mare," "I Ride an Old Paint," and "Red River Valley."

The cast for this production includes Dominique Côté(Marcel), Pascale Beaudin (Claudine), Sarah Shafer (Jeannie), Arnold Livingston Geis (Cody), Frank Kelley (Slim MacBride/Banjo), and Joshua Conyers (Eustis). The Blacksmith musicians include Doug Balliet (contrabass), Adam Gardino (guitar/banjo) -- a two-time champion of the International Finger Style Guitar Competition, and Brown (violin), who in addition to being Opera Lafayette's founder and artistic director, is the family manager for the Reddert Ranch. Additionally, several community instrumentalists will participate.

Olcott will direct the production remotely from Washington, DC with the assistance from Lisa Mion. Lisa Schlenker is the set designer and Marsha LeBoeuf is the costume designer

In light of the ongoing pandemic, all those involved in the production will quarantine for a two-week period prior to the commencement of rehearsals, and Opera Lafayette has established safety guidelines (in-line with CDC recommendations) for everyone to follow during the entirety of the production period. Opera Lafayette plans to perform The Blacksmith in both New York and Washington, DC once conditions become possible.

The performance is presented in partnership with Mancos Creative District and proceeds will benefit both the Mancos Cattlemen's Association and the Mancos Creative District. On October 7, 2020, Opera Lafayette will present a special performance of music classes to the Mancos School District, in partnership with Andrew Saletta, the district's K-12 music teacher.

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