Central City Opera's mission is to present innovative productions of new, rarely performed and classic works meeting the highest artistic standards in the intimacy of the historic opera house; to educate, train and provide performance experience for tomorrow's opera and music theater artists; to create passion and interest in live music, theater and opera through audience and educational outreach efforts; and to maintain and protect over 30 historic properties located in Central City.
The lure of GOLD drew prospectors to the Rocky Mountains in the mid-1850s. Over the next several decades, some $85 million in gold was scooped up, and later extracted from the surrounding hillsides. Central City, the main town in Gregory Gulch, became known as "the richest square mile on earth." In 1878, at the height of the gold mining boom, Welsh and Cornish miners, along with the town, built an opera house, a universally recognized symbol of achievement and cosmopolitan culture. But eventually the gold boom ended, the miners moved on, and the town, along with its beautiful theatre, lapsed into a slow decline, decaying a little more with each year that passed. Then, in 1932, two strong-willed, determined women came to the rescue. Ann Evans and Ida Kruse McFarlane weren't about to let go of this treasure in Colorado's history. Along with their friends, and against many odds, they formed the Central City Opera House Association (CCOHA), restored the theatre, and launched a summer music festival that thrives to this day.
Summer Opera Festival: The Festival has established a widespread reputation for excellence and innovation with imaginative productions of classic works along with provocative stagings of rarely done and new operas including eighteen regional premieres, one North American premiere, and six world premieres, four of them commissioned by the Central City Opera. Critics locally, nationally, and internationally join audiences each year in raving about the quality of the performances that attracts thousands of patrons from Denver, all parts of Colorado, 47 states, and 8 foreign countries.
Artists Training Program: CCO has been nurturing young artists since the earliest days of the festival. Apprentice mentoring was formalized in the mid-70s to become a comprehensive training program serving as a model for other companies throughout the country. In 2016 , there were over 600 applications for 32 apprentice positions, a truly remarkable testimonial to the vitality of the program. Many alumni have gone on to major operatic careers including, among others, Sam Ramey and Denyce Graves.
Education and Community Outreach: For nearly 40 years, CCO has taken its artistry out of the opera house and into schools and communities throughout the Denver Metro area, Colorado statewide, and, more recently, Wyoming. Outreach brings living opera experiences to children and young adults, for whom engagement in the excitement of live musical theatre and opera broadens horizons, enhances and enriches general education, and promotes discovery and improvement of individual talents (K-12 audiences). For adults, it brings opera to individuals and families for whom the art form may be otherwise geographically or financially inaccessible (under-served and low-income audiences).
Historic Preservation: CCO works tirelessly to maintain the historic authenticity of the Opera House while at the same time discreetly modernizing the theatre as a showcase venue for opera. Care is also given to maintaining and repairing the 30 additional properties used for artist training (the Foundry and the Stables), entertaining and administration (the Teller House, Johnson House, and Festival Hall), and housing during the Festival season (26 Victorian houses of various sizes located throughout the town of Central).
"This organization means a great deal to me, and I will continue to sing its praises, both literally and figuratively. I will also continue to contribute to it financially, both out of gratitude and in the hope that the young artists of today might have the chance to become the leading artists of tomorrow." - Emily Pulley, soprano
"This is summer opera at its most appealing." - The Denver Post