Historic Opera Companies of Colorado

1896 - 2005

Return to Mementos Index

CassattAbout 35 opera companies have been founded in Colorado. Eleven of them currently are extant, namely, Central City Opera (1933), Empire Lyric Players (1958), Opera Fort Collins (1979), Opera Colorado (1983), Opera Theatre of the Rockies (1999),Opera Steamboat (2002), High Desert Opera (2003), Loveland Opera Theatre (2006), Boulder Opera (2011).

Lest the ones that have perished be forgotten, this page was created to provide a record of their history and cultural contributions. A few small and ephemeral Denver organizations are not cataloged here, including the Lucille Evans Opera Guild, the Rocky Mountain Opera Association of Arvada, the Rocky Mountain Opera Theatre, Opera! Opera! Opera!, Opera West Workshop, a group called Theatre-Under-Glass, the Denver Concert Chorale Opera Workshop, and Lyric Artists of the West.

The earliest record found for an an opera company in Colorado is for the Colorado Springs Opera Company which presented Powhatan, as a benefit for the Boy's Club, June 29 and 30, 1896.

The summer opera program at the University of Colorado was founded in 1980 by Professor Dennis Jackson and was called the Summer Music Festival. Later it was referred to as CU Opera in the Summer and then in 2006 the name was changed to Colorado Light Opera.

The discovered information that follows is uneven and, in some instances, incomplete. Allen Young's history, Exotic and Irrational; Opera in Denver 1879-2006, provides a wealth of detail about most of the companies profiled here and the many fine local singers who performed with them. This exposition focuses on the production histories of the companies. If the reader can improve upon this work, the author will be grateful. The companies are listed in the order of the date of their inception.

Denver Grand Opera Company (1909-1911)

The Denver Grand Opera Company appears to be the first resident opera company in Denver. (A later one, founded in 1933, used the same name; see below.) Its first production was Wagner's Tannhäuser 17-21 May 1909, at Denver's Municipal  Auditorium, with two or three alternate singers for each role and a chorus of 200 voices. The most notable member of the cast was Jane Abercrombie, leading prima donna with the Metropolitan English Grand Opera Company of Chicago. The next production, 29-30 October 1909, was Johan Strauss' The Queen's Lace Handkerchief, again at the Municipal Auditorium, but an additional performance on 14 November was presented in the German Theatre, 2134 Arapahoe St., which places it in the Turnhalle (Turner Hall) of the Turnverein (athletic club). The final production appears to have been Cavalleria Rusticana, plus miscellaneous selections, at the Broadway Theater on 10 April 1911.

Bosetti Grand Opera Company and Cathedral Grand Opera Company (1915-1922)

Joseph J. BosettiMonsignor Joseph J. Bosetti, assistant pastor of Denver's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, had organized a 125 voice, male choir trained in classical music, and he used it as the core for the Bosetti Grand Opera Company, which presented Cavalleria Rusticana on 24 April 1915 in the Municipal Auditorium. Next came Thomas' Mignon 23 and 24 February 1916 at the Broadway Theater. The second night's Mignon was Florence Lamont Abramowitz (later Hinman). The following year, Bosetti's company was billed as the Cathedral Grand Opera Company and Orchestra, and gave a performance of Romeo and Juliet on 14 February 1917 in the Municipal Auditorium. Coloratura soprano Elizabeth Young, who had been Filina in the Mignon of the previous year, was Juliet. In 1922 Bosetti collaborated with another priest, McMenamin, in the production of an original operetta, Bethlehem, staged at the Broadway Theater.

Denver Grand Opera Company (1933-1951)

Joseph Bosetti also founded the Denver Grand Opera Company in 1933, which annually, for the next 18 years, would stage a commendable opera production-- two in 1948. The complete repertoire is listed in the table following. Among the many notable singers appearing in this series of productions were Coloradoans Jean Dickenson, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Violetta of the 1935 La Traviata, and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor; Francesco Valentino (then using his real name, Frank Valentine Dinhaupt), Germont in the 1935 La Traviata, the title role in Rigoletto, Count di Luna in Il Trovatore, and Figaro in The Barber of Seville; and Jack Race, who was Wagner in Faust. Metropolitan Opera stars who appeared with Bosetti's company were Giovanni Martinelli in Tosca; Norina Greco in Tosca, Il Trovatore and La Bohème; Bidu Sayao and Gabor Corelli in L'Elisir d'Amore; Bruno Landi, Emilia Vidali, Hilde Reggiani in La Traviata and Dorothy Kirsten in Faust. Nicola Berardinelli of the Chicago Grand Opera Company sang the title role in Rigoletto, Scarpia in Tosca, and Manrico in Il Trovatore. Eleanor Kahn of the San Francisco Opera sang the title role in Carmen.

1933 Mignon 1938 La Gioconda 1943 Rigoletto 1948 Hansel and Gretel
1934 Romeo and Juliet 1939 Lucia di Lammermoor 1944 Mignon 1948 The Barber of Seville
1935 La Traviata 1940 Aida 1945 Tosca 1949 Faust
1936 Faust 1941 Carmen 1946 Il Trovatore 1950 L'Elisir d'Amore
1937 Lohengrin 1942 Cavalleria Rusticana
 and Pagliacci
1947 La Bohème 1951 La Traviata

Denver Post Operas (1934-1972)

The iconic Denver Post Operas, outdoors in Cheesman Park, were enjoyed every summer by Denverites from 1934 until 1972, Helen Bonfilsexcept for the war years, 1944 and 1945.  Helen Bonfils, wealthy daughter of the co-founder of the Denver Post newspaper, was the creator and patron of this lengthy series. For the first two years, the productions were heavy on grand opera, with the 1934 production called "An Evening of Verdi" and then three productions in 1935 on three successive evening in June: Lucia di Lammermoor, Naughty Marietta, and Tannhäuser. Jean Dickenson was the featured star in both years. Then, starting in 1936, an operetta or musical was offered annually. Donna Janzen was Bloody Mary in the 1963 South Pacific.

An unpublished manuscript by Edwin Levy, "Just One More Short Act, Folks!: A History of the Denver Post Opera," resides in the library of the Colorado Historical Society in Denver. It faithfully records the productions with full details of directorial staffs and casts. (One page was missing when the author examined it a few years ago.) Edwin Levy directed many of the Denver post operettas. It is unfortunate that his record of this historic endeavor remains in obscurity. The following is a catalog of the productions.

1934 An Evening of Verdi
1942 Merry Widow
1953 Rio Rita 1963 South Pacific
1935 Lucia di Lammermoor
1943 Countess Maritza
1954 The Rose of Algeria 1964 My Fair Lady
         Naught Marietta 1944 and 1945 none
1955 South Pacific 1965 The King and I
         Tannhäuser 1946 Naughty Marietta 1956 Show Boat 1966 Kismet
1936 Vagabond King
1947 Arizona 1957 The King and I 1967 Sound of Music
1937 Desert Song
1948 Rose Marie 1958 Oklahoma 1968 Sound of Music
1938 Rio Rita
1949 The Red Mill 1959 Annie Get Your Gun 1969 Camelot
1939 Student Prince
1950 New Moon 1960 Merry Widow 1970 Hello Dolly
1940 Blossom Time
1951 Desert Song 1961 Carousel 1971 Guys and Dolls
1941 Chocolate Soldier
1952 Student Prince 1962 The Music Man 1972 Sound of Music

Capitol Opera Company (1951-1965)

Galdys LansingThe Capitol Opera Company was founded in Denver by Robert Lansing in 1950. Robert and Gladys Lansing were Metropolitan Opera choristers in New York before coming to Denver in 1949 Capitol Opera Company presented 25 performances of 12 grand operas by the time it closed in 1965. Below are listed the productions for which years of performance are known. In addition other productions for which the dates are not know include The Marriage of Figaro and Carmina Burana. Gladys Lansing was Azucena in Il Trovatore, Amneris in Aida, and Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana. Venues for the company's productions included Capitol Height Auditorium, Barnes Auditorium, and Phipps Auditorium.

1950 L'Elisir d'Amore
1955 Cav/Pag
1951 Il Trovatore 1957 Il Trovatore
1952 Carmen 1964 Di Fledermaus
1953 The Magic Flute 1965 The Magic Flute
1953 Aida 1965 The Tales of Hoffman

Greater Denver Opera Association (1954-1957)

Although this company lasted a mere four years, its productions were highly lauded. Dr. Antonia Brico conducted the Cav/Pag first production and Hansel and Gretel. The casts were commonly augmented by singers of note. Tomiko Kanazawa was Cio-Cio-San in Madama ButterflyPeggy Bonini and Norman Treigle of the New York City Opera Company starred in The Marriage of Figaro, Met stars Brenda Lewis and Frederick Jagel were the leads in Salome, Lucia Albanese was Violetta in La Traviata, Eva Likova was Mimi in La Bohème, Jean Fenn starred in Die Fledermaus, and Marjorie DiProfio sang Bertha in The Barber of Seville. Donna Janzen was Maddelena in the 1954 Rigoletto, Hansel in the 1955 Hansel and Gretel and Suzuki in the 1955 Madama Butterfly. Tomiko Kanazawa of the San Francisco Opera was Cio-Cio San in the latter production.

The first and last three performances were in the Municipal  Auditorium, the others were in the Tabor Grand Opera House. Faust was scheduled for performance in April of 1957 but was canceled when the company became insolvent.

1954 Cav/Pag
1955 Carmen
1956 Salome and
1956 La Bohème
1954 Rigoletto
1955 Madama Butterfly
         Swan Lake Ballet 1957 Die Fledermaus
1955 Hansel and Gretel
1956 Marriage of Figaro
1956 La Traviata 1957 The Barber of Seville

Boulder Civic Opera Workshop (1955-1985)

The Civic Light Opera Workshop began as meeting in the Boulder apartment of Saida and Myron Selby in 1955, when friends gathered to rehearse the singing of opera and operetta selections, with Saida accompanying at the piano. Their first public appearance, as the Boulder Civic Opera Workshop was at the Boulder Senior Federated Music Club in 1956, presenting opera and operetta excerpts. Marvin Lee White was the president and manager of the group. By about 1970 the company was using the name Boulder Civic Opera. Through this company's 30 years the key people responsible for manning the operations of the company included John and Marion Paton, Chris Brauchli, Susan Thomas, Judy Kloetzel, Sue Larson, and Carla Selby, daughter of Saida and Myron Selby. The Boulder Chorale was founded in 1966, when some members of the Boulder Civic Opera Chorus decided to form a separate group that would exist independently, but still collaborate with the opera for its performances.

Excerpts form Don Giovanni, Desert Song,
     Cavalleria Rusticana
1967 Babes in Toyland (children's summer production)

Trial by Jury

Damn Yankees
1957 The Mikado 1968 Kiss Me Kate

The Fortune Teller (Herbert)
South Pacific

Down in the Valley (Weill)
Peter Pan
1958 The Merry Widow 1969 Guys and Dolls

The Mikado (in Estes Park)
The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Song of Norway (Wright and Forrest)
1970 Tom Sawyer (children's summer production)
1959 Iolanthe
Excerpts from Musicals

The Red Mill 1971 The Play of Daniel (medieval liturgical drama in Latin)
1960 Brigadoon 1972 Fiddler on the Roof

The Gondoliers
Les Mamelles de Tirésias (b)
1961 Oklahoma
Sound of Music (children's summer production)
1962 Showboat

Carousel 1973 Columbine (c)

Pajama Game
Concert: Music of Lerner and Loewe
1963 The Marriage of Figaro (a)
1974 Utopia, Limited (Gilbert & Sullivan)

Blossom Time
Concert: Magnificent Medley

Finian's Rainbow
Concert: Music of Rodgers &  Hammerstein
1964 Die Fledermaus 1975 The Ballad of Baby Doe (d)

South Pacific 1976 1776

The Music Makers
1965 Girl Crazy 1977 The Tales of Hoffman (d)

Hansel and Gretel
1966 South Pacific 1978 The Music Man

HMS Pinafore (Junior Civic Opera)
Christmas Concert

Music Man
1985 Being of Sound Mind (Eakin) and
A Soldier's Tale (Stravinsky) (e)

a. Concert version with Bolder Philharmonic conducted by Dr. Antonia Brico.
David Burge conducting the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra; Dennis Jackson played the husband.
c. Columbine (1973) was written by Mary Davis (music) and Joanna Sampson (libretto), both local women. It was about the Columbine Mine strike and violence near Erie, CO in November, 1927. It was performed in Lafayette, CO. Some of the old miners were in the audience.
Robert Olson conducted The Ballad of Baby Doe and The Tales of Hoffmann.
e. Conducted by Tom Blomster; Charles Eakin directed his Being of Sound Mind and Carla Selby directed A Soldier's Tale.

 Denver Lyric Theatre (1958-1967)
Denver Lyric Opera (1967-1972)

The Denver Lyric Theater began in 1958 with John Newfield as director. He was followed by Arthur Schoep in 1962 and then the company became Denver Lyric Opera under the direction of Norman Johnson. The earlier productions featured chamber operas, some of which are little known and rarely performed. See Allen Young's book for composer names. Donna Janzen was Dorabella in the 1964 Cosi fan tutte and Daisy in the 1971 Colonel Jonathan the Saint. The Denver Lyric Opera Guild, currently a vigorous supporter of opera singers, was founded in 1965 as an adjunct to the Denver Lyric Theatre.

1958 La Serva Padrona, Rita & Malady of Love 1966 The Marriage of Figaro

The Beautiful Galatea & The Prima Donna
 Romeo and Juliet
1959 Angelique  & R.S.V.P.
1967 Tosca

Gallantry & Chanticleer

Il Trovatore

The Secrets of Suzanne & The Impresario
1968 The Barber of Seville

The Marriage Merchant & The Old Maid and the Thief

The Magic Flute
1960 Don Pasquale
1969 The Unicorn in the Garden & Hello Out There

La Pauvre Matelot & Rita

Madam Butterfly
1961 An American in Boston


The Barber of Seville
1970 Salome
1962 Il Campanello & Comedy on the Bridge

The Medium

The Meeting & An Incomplete Education
1971 The Crucible
1963 The Marriage of Figaro


La Rondine

Man in the Moon (puppet theater production)
1964 Cosi fan tutte

Colonel Jonathan the Saint (World Premiere)
1965 La Bohème
1972 Don Pasquale

Lucia di Lammermoor

Colorado Springs Opera Association (1959-1972)

The Colorado Springs Opera Association  was launched in 1959 and continued for 13 seasons. An affiliated Colorado Springs Opera Touring Company performed The Telephone and the The Impresario in the 1968-69 season and Bastien and Bastienne and La Serva Padrona in 1969-70.

1959-60 Pagliacci & Amahl and the Night Visitors 1966-67 Madama Butterfly

The Bartered Bride
The Gondoliers
1960-61 Hansel and Gretel
Il Trovatore

Cavalleria Rusticana & La Serva Padrona 1967-68 Hansel and Gretel
1961-62 Trouble in Tahiti & The Impresario
La Perichole

La Bohème

The Mikado 1968-69 Carmen
1962-63 Carmen

The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County & Sister Angelica
The Barber of Seville

The Merry Widow 1969-70 Don Pasquale
1963-64 The Devil and Daniel Webster & Down in the Valley
The Medium

La Traviata
La Bohème

The Student Prince
La Traviata
1964-65 Faust 1970-71 Elixir of Love

The Ballad of Baby Doe

Die Fledermaus
1965-66 The Marriage of Figaro
1971-72  The Girl of the Golden West

The Tales of Hoffmann

Romeo and Juliet

A Masked Ball

Colorado Opera Festival (1971-2000)

The Colorado Opera Festival began in 1971 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Donald P. Jenkins (photo at right) was a co-founder and Artistic Director. The other co-founder, Gilbert R. Johns, was then Dean of the College's Summer Session. Jenkins and Johns together structured the Festival and shepherded it in its formative years. The Festival became an independent production in 1978. It continued performing at Colorado College until 1983 when Pikes Peak Center opened, where it became the second largest user of the Center. The Festival produced more than 60 full-scale professional operas during its 30 years of operation, employing distinguished national artists. Additionally, the Festival produced chamber operas in cooperation with Colorado College, and sponsored a Company singers program which performed for more than 29,000 local school children between 1994 and 1997.
Donald P. Jenkins
1971 Il Cavaliere errante
1983 The Barber of Seville

The Combat of Tancred and Clorinda

H.M.S. Pinafore


1972 Don Giovanni
1984 The Merry Widow

The  Child and the Sorcerers and The Spanish Hour


The Love for Three Oranges
1985 Cosi fan tutte
1973 The Italian Girl in Algiers

Madama Butterfly

The Rise and Fall of the City of  Mahagonny
1986 Faust

The Magic Flute
The Ballad of Baby Doe
1974 Iolanthe

Mozart's Requiem

The Marriage of Figaro
1987 Verdi's Requiem


Opera Choruses and Favorites
1975 The Abduction from the Seraglio
1988 La Traviata

The Turn of the Screw
1989 Die Fledermaus

The Tales of Hoffmann
1990 Il Trovatore
1976 Don Pasquale
1991 The Magic Flute

The Soldier's Tale and Gianni Schicchi
1992 The Tales of Hoffman 

Boris Godunov
1993 Aida
1977 Cosi fan tutte
1994 Turandot

The Rake's Progress
Hansel and Gretel

1995 Dido and Aeneaus
1978 Cinderella

Don Giovanni


Boris Godunov

1996 Semele
1979 Elixir of Love

 Lucia di Lammermoor

Faust 1997 Sister Angelica
1980  Die Fledermaus

Regina 1998 The Turn of the Screw

La Bohème
La Bohème
1981 La Traviata 1999 Acis and Galtea
1982 Rigoletto
Madama Butterfly

2000 The Magic Flute

Opera Fair (1974-1978)

Opera Fair, founded in 1974 in Denver by Stuart Steffen and Harriet Lawyer-Duvallo, gave one-act operas at various community centers and schools throughout the state under the sponsorship of the Colorado Council of the Arts and Humanities. In the summer of 1975, it toured the state with Norman Lockwood's Requiem for a Rich Young Man, premiered in 1964 by the University of Denver, and also performed it at International House in Denver and on TV. The company also performed The Impresario. In 1976 Opera Fair performed at the Bonfils Children's Theatre and also toured the state with Guerrero's La Rosa del Azafran (zarzuela). The program for 1977 was 10 performances of Donizetti's Rita and a one-act play. Opera Fair offered master classes in Denver by Met soprano Judith Raskin in June 1977. In 1978 Donizetti's Rita, as performed by Denver's Opera Fair accompanied by the Denver Symphony Orchestra, was broadcast in Colorado on January 15. Rick Schmidt was the producer, Carl Topilow the conductor, and Harriet Lawyer-Duvallo the stage director.

Denver Opera Repertory Company (1976-1978)

Nicholas Laurienti was the Conductor and General Director. Lillie Glennon was Adriana Lecouvrer and "sang with poise and assurance" according to a Rocky Mountain News review. Dennis Jackson was Count Danilo in The Merry Widow. Cynthia Makris made her debut as Tosca with this company in 1978. Sometime in the 1970's the company did Hansel and Gretel in which Donna Janzen was Hansel and Beverly Christiansen Fernald was Gretel. The company was revived as the Denver Opera Company and staged a few performances including The Medium and The Magic Flute in 1994, Susannah in 1999, Patience and Sarah in 2003, La Traviata in 2003, and Verdi's Requiem at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in 2005. Following is a list of the productions that we specifically could document.

1976 La Bohème
1978 Werther

Acts from Lakmé, Turandot, Adriana Lecouvrer

Die Fledermaus

La Traviata

Madama Butterfly
1977 Il Trovatore

Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Widow




Crystal River Opera Association (1976-1980)

Based in Carbondale, the group was affiliated with Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs. The founding members were Lloyd E. Levy, president, Betsy Schenck, George Eustis, Dutton Foster, Linda Sullivan, Tom Ferrarese, and Brad Shepherd. These people also were principal performers and musicians in the productions. Performances in Carbondale were at the Crystal Theater, a former moving picture house. In addition to Carbondale, performances were staged in Glenwood Springs, Leadville, Rifle, and Aspen, cities in which Colorado Mountain College has campuses. The Ballad of Baby Doe, the company's first opera, was performed with piano accompaniment. Subsequent operas were accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Ray V. Adams. All the operas were performed in English.

1976 The Ballad of Baby Doe
1978 Amahl and the Night Visitors

The Medium

La Bohème
1977 The Marriage of Figaro
1979 Die Fledermaus

The Unsinkable Molly Brown
1980 Carmen

Morrison Opera Company (1979-1984)

In the summer of 1979, opera and classical music devotee Walter Lonis, baritone and Denver Police Officer, secured the Town Hall of Morrison, as a facility that would serve as a small theater and resident opera house. Morrison mayor, the late Rolf Paul, was contacted, and after meetings with Mr. Paul and the Town Board, an agreement was reached for use of the town hall. All remodeling and operating expenses were borne by the Morrison Opera Company. The opera company was officially formed in November of 1979, as a non-profit organization by Walter Lonis, Joanne Lonis, and Donald L. Munro II. William Whitehead was invited to serve as the artistic coordinator and his wife, Peggy as costume designer. Later, Elise Bryant served as a member of the Board. Marge Ochsner was the Lighting Director.
The purpose of the Morrison Opera Company was to provide a training ground for local talent, with emphasis on complete opera and musical productions, open to the general public, and to establish a permanent resident opera company, to be located in the State of Colorado. Lonis and his wife, working with donations from Morrison residents, area businessmen, and others included contributions of paint, wallpaper, lumber, and a crystal chandelier, began converting the building's first-floor into a very presentable opera house, seating 80 to 100 people. The Red Rocks Lions Club helped build the stage; a proscenium arch, curtain, and theater lighting were additionally added, all of this at no cost to the city of Morrison.
The date of April 12, 1980, was chosen for the inauguration and opening. The Honorary Italian Vice Consulate, Mrs. Caterina Noya Scordo, attended and cut the yellow ribbon officially opening the Morrison Opera Company. Most arias were sung in the native tongue, usually Italian or French. The following artists participated in the opening concert: Walter Lonis, baritone, Morrison; Lorraine McSkimmings, soprano, Golden; Janet Kirsch, mezzo soprano, Denver; David Anderson, bass, Boulder; Patrick Magee, tenor, Littleton; Melanie Maisch, soprano, Boulder; B. J. Parks, soprano, Denver; James Williams, tenor, Boulder; Sylvia Cook was the piano accompanist with Jane Haskell joining at a later date. For a July concert, guest artist Beverly Christiansen-Fernald, soprano, Wheat Ridge, was invited to be the special guest artist.

The company performed numerous concerts and benefits for several organizations: RTD Senior Ride, Evergreen Players, Morrison Nursing Home, Jefferson County Action Center, Heather Gardens, and many nursing and retirement facilities throughout the Denver Metro area.
On January 8, 1984, a fire early Sunday morning in the Morrison Town Hall /Morrison Opera Company was devastating for the opera company; the foyer, all stage lighting, backdrops, chandeliers, stage curtains, stage proscenium arch, some costumes, and donated art works were destroyed. After the fire, additional successful performances by the Morrison Opera Company were completed that year. Morrison Opera Company was dissolved in late 1984 after negotiations to rebuild with Morrison Town officials failed. Rather than relinquish the direction and control of the Company to a Morrison official, the Morrison Opera Co. made the decision to close the opera company.

 Date Event
Apr 1980 Grand Opening Concert Morrison

Concerts given throughout the year Morrison
Apr 1981 Concert and Puccini: Manon Lescaut, Act III Morrison
Sep 1981 Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana (a)

Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana Estes Park
Jun 1982 Puccini: Tosca Morrison

Puccini: Tosca Boulder

Puccini: Tosca Estes Park
Aug 1982
Puccini: Tosca Leadville (b)
Oct 1982 Puccini: Sour Angelica Morrison
Feb 1983 Man of La Mancha Morrison
Mar 1983
Littleton (c)
Jun 1983 Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci Morrison

Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci Estes Park (d)
Jul 1983
Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci in concert
Aug 1983
Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci Leadville

Moore: Abridged Ballad of Baby Doe Leadville
Oct 1983 Moore: Abridged Ballad of Baby Doe Morrison
Feb 1984
Puccini: Tosca Littleton
Jun 1984
Herbert: Naughty Marietta (e)
Regis College
Jul 1984 Herbert: Naughty Marietta Leadville
Oct 1984
Herbert: Naughty Marietta Denver (f)

a. First fully staged and costumed complete opera
b. Tabor Opera House
c. Littleton Town Hall Art Center; the 1983 concert was a part of the opening week of the Arts Center
d. Stanley Hotel
There were two separate casts for this production, consisting of over thirty-five performers
f. Swayder Theater; the final performance of the Morrison Opera Company celebrating its 5th anniversary

Four Corners Opera Association (1978-1983)
Four Corners Opera
Festival (1984-1990)

Baritone Robert Gregori and his wife, soprano Judith Turano, returned to the United States after singing for 8 years in the opera houses of West Germany and co-founded the Four Corners Opera Association in Farmington, NM, in November 1978, and served as artistic directors. The company gave performances in the 1,200-seat Civic Center Auditorium with the orchestra for most of the productions being the New Mexico Symphony, conducted by the late Yoshimi Takeda. While in Farmington, Gregori and Turano conducted an opera workshop at San Juan College during 1980-81.

In 1984 the company relocated to Durango, CO, and changed its name to Four Corners Opera Festival where, during the summer, it staged operas in the auditorium of Fort Lewis College. Also in 1984, the company launched a Singer-Apprentice Program in conjunction with its June festival. The Four Corners Opera Festival board incorporated members from all four of the four-corner states, and included Micky Thurston and Morley Ballantine of Durango.

Several of the leading singers employed by the company were established artists, including Metropolitan Opera tenors Enrico Di Giuseppe, Raymond Gibbs, Jerold Siena and William McDonald; Met baritone Dominic Cossa, Met bass Thomas Hammons, as well as Robert Gregori and Judith Turano. Susan Marie Pierson made her professional debut with the company, as Norina in Don Pasquale, went on to win the Pavarotti competition in Philadelphia and then to sing Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera with Luciano Pavarotti at La Scala. She has enjoyed an international career as a Wagnerian soprano. Adam Klein, one of the young artists, became a leading tenor at the New York City Opera and is now also enjoying an international career. Stage directors included Metropolitan Opera director Patrick Tavernia and the late New York City Opera director John Lehmeyer.

Before going to Germany, Robert Gregori had appeared frequently with opera companies in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Dallas and Tulsa. He died of complications from multiple myeloma in 1999 at age 67. Judith Turano, a native of Farmington, currently teaches voice at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, the largest and oldest-- now 100 years old-- community school for the arts in the United States, and also maintains a private studio in Philadelphia.

Farmington productions

Durango productions
La Traviata
1984 Madama Butterfly

The Barber of Seville
The Face on the Barroom Floor
1980 South Pacific
Don Pasquale

Madama Butterfly 1985 The Face on the Barroom Floor

Cosi fan tutte

The Rape of Lucretia
Evening on Broadway

Gianni Schicchi & Il Tabarro

La Bohème
1986 La Voix humaine & Pagliacci

Don Pasquale
Il Barbiere di Seviglia
1982 Opera Gala

La Serva Padrona

Slow Dusk & the Maid Mistress

Hansel and Gretel 1987 Man of La Mancha
1983 Operetta/Gala Concert 1988 Tosca

La Traviata 1989 The Face on the Barroom Floor

The Telephone

1990 The Impresario

Bold Lion Theatrical Opera (1988-1989)

Bold Lion Theatrical Opera, a Boulder company named from directors Richard Boldrey and Polly Liontis, husband and wife, in 1988 to 1989 staged chamber operas: L'Enfant prodigue, La Voix humaines, and Médée. In its first season it appeared as Colorado Opera Festival (the same name as the 17-year-old company in Colorado Springs) and discovered the conflict too late to reprint its material.

Malis & Friedlob
                                       Colorado Opera Troupe (1994-2004)

Irene VanHam Friedlob was the founder and principal star of Denver's Colorado Opera Troupe. We are unable to elicit a response from anyone who might provide definitive information about the company and only have established that Tosca was performed in 1996, Madama Butterfly in 1997, Die Fledermaus in 1999, La Bohème in 2000, I Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana in 2001, La Traviata in 2002, abridged and fused versions of Carmen and Salome in 2003, and Otello in 2004.

Augustana Opera Theatre (1997-2003)

Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti)
La Serva Padrona (The Servant Master) (Pergolesi)
1998-1999 Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti)
The Tender Land (Copland)
Noye's Fludde (Britten)
1999-2000 Dido and Aeneus (Purcell)
The Impresario (Mozart)
Godspell (Schwartz)
Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti)
Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck) (educational outreach show)
2000-2001 Down in the Valley (Weil)
The Proposal (Hummel)
The Telephone (Menotti)
Don Quixote (Telemann)
2001-2002 The Marriage Contract (Rossini)
Opera Scenes
The Unicorn, the Gorgon and The Manticore (Menotti)
2002-2003 The Magic Flute (UNC Opera Theatre) (Mozart)
The Impresario (Mozart)
La Serva Padrona (The Servant Master) (Pergolesi)

Passaggio Opera (2004-2005)

Passaggio Opera was launched in Denver by Amy Stuemky as "a place where talented artists of Colorado could present their favorite operas, hone their craft and build up their resumes." In its two seasons, Passaggio presented five short operas, Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief and Penhorwood's Too Many Sopranos in 2004 and Ward's Roman Fever, Vaughn Williams Riders to the Sea and Menotti's The Telephone in 2005.