Central City Opera Festival

Central City Opera Festival

Late June to mid-August
Central City Opera Festival is a festival of opera, operetta, and cabaret in the one-time mining town of Central City, Colo. Performances are staged in the Old Opera House, built in 1878 and since restored to its original Victorian elegance. On opening night, "flower girls" present the audience with fresh flowers, which are thrown on stage to the cast at the end of the performance.
Inaugurated in 1932, the Opera Festival was not only the first summer opera festival in the country but also the first to espouse singing opera in English, a tradition that continues. The Ballad of Baby Doe, an opera that depicts the love story of the real-life silver king, Horace Tabor, who left his wife for the beautiful and much younger Baby Doe, was commissioned by Central City.
Cabaret opera is presented in the historic Teller House next to the Opera House. Built in 1872, this was once the grandest hotel in the west, host to President Ulysses S. Grant and other notables.
One of the presentations is Face on the Barroom Floor, which was commissioned on the 100th anniversary of the opera house. The saloon of the Teller House is the site of the "face" made famous in the poem by H. Antoine D'Arcy. The poem tells the story of the drunken vagabond who comes into the bar, asks for whiskey, and explains that he was once a painter who fell in love with beautiful Madeline—and that she was stolen away by his friend. "That's why I took to drink, boys," the vagabond says, and then offers to draw Madeline's portrait on the barroom floor:
Another drink, and with chalk in hand the vagabond began
To sketch a face that well might buy the soul of any man.
Then, as he placed another lock upon the shapely head,
With a fearful shriek, he leaped and fell across the picture—dead.
CONTACTS:
Central City Opera House Association
400 S. Colorado Blvd., Ste. 530
Denver, CO 80246
800-851-8175 or 303-292-6500; fax: 303-292-2221
www.centralcityopera.org
SOURCES:
GdUSFest-1984, p. 25
MusFestAmer-1990, p. 167
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