Opera Colorado enriches the quality of life through the presentation of opera performances that inspire our audience, and serves the community through education and cultural programs.
Stories are the essential lifeblood of a community, and Opera Colorado's story is inseparable from its hometown. A group of opera lovers gathered in 1980 to discuss the need for professional-quality opera in Denver; a company emerged that set a new standard for artistic excellence in Colorado. Nathaniel Merrill, longtime stage director for the Metropolitan Opera, served as artistic director from 1981-1998. Opera Colorado performed "in the round" for ten years, this unusual staging etching an early artistic identity that prioritized intimate connection with the audience and a relentless focus on quality, values that still characterize the company today.
In 2002, the organization won the opportunity to restore the 1908 Auditorium Theatre, leading to the opening of the 2,200-seat Ellie Caulkins Opera House as its performance home in 2005. The company builds on this acoustically excellent venue's storied past by connecting modern audiences with great works of the opera repertoire. Additionally, more than 45,000 Coloradans experience Opera Colorado through a range of Education and Community Engagement programs each year.
On March 13, 2020, the positive momentum of our 2019-20 Season was interrupted as the escalating COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of our annual gala. State and local government orders closed down the Denver Performing Arts Complex and other venues, necessitating the cancellation of our production of Tosca. We closed the Opera Colorado Opera Center and began working remotely, maintaining full administrative operations without interruption.
While we will miss welcoming audiences to the Ellie, the Opera Colorado staff has wholeheartedly embraced this opportunity to showcase our innovative spirit, which has been at our core since the company's inception. In lieu of our 2020-21 mainstage season, we are excited to present Opera Colorado Amplified, an innovative new series featuring both in-person and digital performances, designed to expand our reach and raise voices within our Opera Colorado community.
"...As I marched my toddlers to the performance, I was a little nervous that I was dragging them to something they wouldn't understand or have the patience to sit through. I was so wrong. We all loved it... My five-year old was fixated and keeps asking when we can go back to the Opera. Thank you for making this artform so accessible to children. Thank you for a reminder that true artistry speaks to us all. "
- Julia Jung reflecting on Family Day, a free Education & Engagement Program in which Opera Colorado opens the doors to the Ellie for programming of condensed operas and activities for children and families.
"The recent pandemic has led to large budget cuts in our country's educational system, which often includes slashing funding for the arts. Allowing Opera Colorado to continue to foster artistic development in our youngest citizens through continued exposure to quality creative expression will help keep a treasured art form accessible and alive. Music plays a vital role in all our lives and Opera Colorado plays an equally vital role in continuing to bring world-class opera to Denver."
- Joyce de Roos, a long-time Opera Colorado subscriber, donor, and volunteer.