Central City Opera

With ticket revenue accounting for only 15% of our annual budget, we rely on the generosity of patrons like YOU. Donations to Central City Opera help to support our Summer Festival, training each summer for 32 Young Artists, and our Education and Community Engagement programs.

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Education & Community Engagement Program


Arts, Culture & Humanities 


Aging/Elderly/Senior Citizens
Children ages 5 to 21
General Public/Unspecified
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged


For nearly 40 years, the Education and Community Program has taken Central City Opera's artistry out of the opera house and into schools and communities through the Denver Metro region and the state of Colorado, bringing programming:
- to children and young adults, for whom engagement in the beauty and creativity of musical theater and opera broadens horizons, enhances and enriches general education, and promotes discovery or improvement of individual talents and creative thinking (K-12 audiences);
- to families and adults for whom live musical performances may otherwise be geographically or financially inaccessible (low-income and under-served audiences); and
- to the aged and disabled in care facilities who cannot attend performance venues (accessibility-issue audiences).

Of these activities, the highest priority is given to schools and community-based services for children and youth. Most children's first introduction to literacy is through song (e.g. ABCs), and for storytelling it is through dramatic play, but as one advances through the school system the creative use of song, music and drama often evaporates. Study of the arts is quietly disappearing from our schools, as the result of shifting priorities and budget cuts. In many of Colorado's elementary and middle schools, full-time specialized arts instruction has been replaced by part-time teachers or classroom generalists, limiting the benefits for children at the most receptive and responsive ages. Demand and need for arts education programs remains, but the resources are minimal, especially in communities that have little or no access to broad artistic offerings. Visiting artists and performers provided by cultural organization such as Central City Opera help to fill an ever growing void in these communities.

For young audiences, "the arts do matter - not only as worthwhile experiences in their own right...but also as instruments of cognitive growth and development and as agents of motivation for school success." Researchers have noted significant correlations between students immersed in "high-arts" schools, and their performance on 'measures of creativity, fluency, originality, [and]...their abilities to express thoughts and ideas, exercise their imaginations and take risks in learning." Learning in and through the arts can help 'level the playing field' for youngsters from disadvantaged circumstances, unfortunately, "...access to the arts is inequitably distributed in our society. Students from poor and less educated families are much more likely to record low levels of participation in the arts...."

Programs for student audiences include:

How the West Was Sung
No Wii? No iPod? No reality TV? What did the pioneers and miners of the frontier West do for fun? Surprise! They liked opera (among other activities). And the adventurous lives of Colorado historical figures Molly Brown, Horace and Baby Doe Tabor and Clara Brown make great opera stories for today! Included is a study resource with the opportunity for students to write "his-story" or "her-story" and many more relevant activities.

En Mis Palabras - In My Own Words
En Mis Palabras is a classic story that every student, no matter what his or her cultural background, can relate to - the adolescent dilemma of finding your own voice, learning who you are - and the adult dilemma of knowing when and how much to let go so that a young adult may safely develop that sense of self. Fully staged with scenery and costumes, En Mis Palabras is scored for four singers, classical guitar and piano and sung in both English and Spanish. A bilingual study resource is provided which explores cultural and family traditions, immigration, and Latino history in Colorado and includes language arts and social studies exercises.

Performing Arts Intensive
Do you have students aged 14-19 who are ready for an extended performing arts workshop? Here's the ticket! Two weeks of summer study with visiting master teaching artists assembled by Central City Opera and the Colorado Springs Conservatory includes the creation of an original operatic work. Under the guidance and direction of composer-in-residence, Mr. Roger Ames, students collaborate, create and perform an original composition. The summer curriculum concludes with a 4-day behind-the-scenes residency in Central City during the opera festival. Students see performances and receive master classes with festival artists, ending on a high note with their own performance in Central City.

Workshops and Master Classes
Students gain confidence and technique in workshops or master classes in singing, stage craft, movement or any other related activity presented by experienced teaching artists. Master classes can include a short performance by artists followed by individual or group coaching.

For all educators:

Music! Words! Opera! Workshop - Professional Development for Educators
Spend five days discovering a great array of practical teaching methods while sparking your own creativity. Master teaching artists guide participants in the study and creation of musical stories. 3 Graduate credits available through the University of Colorado.

The Music! Words! Opera! curriculum was developed by respected educators who believe that all people are inherently creative and that students deserve the opportunity to experience creative learning. Opera is an art of collaboration from inception through production; an excellent model for collaborative teaching and learning that also lends itself to creating a balance between academic and experiential learning. Interdisciplinary links can be forged among subject areas such as history, literature, social sciences, arts and math; inspiring creative and critical thinking. Students are also challenged to think beyond speaking and writing to discover new and larger ways of expressing themselves - through words, music, dramatic expression and visual arts.

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Evidence of Program's Success

In 2016, the number of schools and students reached exceeded totals from the previous year: 80 programs were provided for 16,517 students and youth; 54 programs were provided for family audiences of 19,885; and 21 programs were provided for 8,014 adults/seniors. Education & Community Engagement also produced the first season of the Central City Opera Podcast, resulting in a total of 2,260 downloads of 26 episodes. The episodes were downloaded in 43 countries and 44 of the 50 United States.

Recent surveys administered to 5th grade students that participated in ECEP's Music! Words! Opera! Residency Opera Project: Sacajawea at Southmoor Elementary indicate the following impact:
• 85% of student participants responded that the program gave them freedom to express themselves in class.
• 89% of student participants responded that the program gave them experience working in groups.
• 88% of student participants responded that the program made them feel better about their abilities.
• 71% of student participants responded that the program helped them to be more successful in their other classes.
• 75% of student participants responded that the program made it easier for them to participate in class.
• 94% of student participants responded that they learned a lot from the program.

Additionally, a 2015 poll conducted by the Educational and Community Engagement Program, 100% of educators responded that the program benefited their students; 100% of educators responded that they would recommend the program to other schools or groups; 100% of educators responded that they "highly enjoyed" the performance.

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program


Arts, Culture & Humanities 


Young Adults (20-25 years)


The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program is an integral part of the summer Opera Festival held each year in Central City, Colorado. Named in honor of a pace setting endowment gift, the Artists Training Program has become a national model for comprehensive development of young singers.

Created by Artistic Director Emeritus John Moriarty in 1978, the rigorous 8-week program integrates daily opera training in diction, movement, makeup and costuming, stage combat, acting, stage technique, individual coaching and role study, complimented by sessions in career management, such as how to write a resume and maintain a performance portfolio and how to audition in order to succeed, all combined with rehearsals and performance opportunities in the summer's main stage and additional festival productions.

There are many places to learn how to sing; however, there are few places to learn how to be a performing artist. The difference is subtle, but it is a difference on which John Moriarty has built an effective and successful training program perennially sought after by gifted young American singers. "A successful career in opera involves hundreds of hours of off-stage work for every hour on-stage, and it's those hours off-stage that I want to teach them about," said Moriarty.

The Program offers two levels of training: Studio Artist positions and Apprentice Artist positions. All Program activities take place in Central City in housing, training, and performance facilities owned by the Association. Given the close proximity of these facilities, the Program has sustained its original and unique value - interaction among the trainees, the staff, and the principal singers. Emily Pulley (Studio Artist 1992, Apprentice Artist 1993), performing in 2010 as Beatrice in Central City Opera's production of Three Decembers, said, "What means most to me is the chance to pass on to these kids the same kind of support that the professionals gave me when I was an Apprentice."


Evidence of Program's Success

Competition to participate in the program reflects its strong reputation. In 2016, there were more than 600 applications for 32 available apprentice positions. Additionally, the alumni of CCO's Artist Training Program regularly perform in opera houses worldwide.

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