New College of Music program promises opera from ground up

Debut of CU NOW gives Boulder audiences view to creation of new works
By Staff
Composers Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfien

Composers Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfien

How does an opera transform from words and music on paper to life on stage? The University of Colorado at Boulder College of Music this month launches a program that lets audiences make that discovery at the point of creation.

The CU New Opera Workshop, or CU NOW, presents a slate of performance workshops from July 26 through Aug. 7; they're preceded by a recital by guest artist Anthony Dean Griffey on July 25.

CU Opera Director Leigh Holman told the Newsletter earlier this year that she first had the idea for the program while working at Opera Colorado.

"When I was there, the National Performing Arts Conference was in Denver, and the National Opera Conference included a new works sampler," she said. "I had the opportunity to work with young artists from Opera Colorado and the Central City Opera, and I really enjoyed directing them and seeing them get into American opera.

"If we don't support living composers, the art form will die. My intention at Opera Colorado was to start to use that as framework and do performances of new works every year. When I left, I took the idea with me. It actually works even better in an academic setting, because it really is study of new works."

Daniel Kellogg

Daniel Kellogg

Each public workshop performance of CU NOW features College of Music singers performing well-known pieces by guest composers Robert Aldridge, Herschel Garfein and Daniel Kellogg. At each event, singers also will perform a section of a brand-new operatic work, with the composers' live commentary, under Holman's direction. The lineup also will include talkbacks moderated by Patrick Mason, professor of voice, and a master class by Griffey.

Holman said audiences will gain real insight into the creative process, as well as see and hear portions of works not previously performed.

"Composers will be composing for the students' voices," she said. "They get to try it out and get their work off the page and into voice."

This grant-supported program is academically and artistically focused, promoting the professional development of CU-Boulder students and the development of new American operatic works.

Tickets are available now by calling the CU Presents box office, 303-492-8008 or by visiting The lineup:

Guest Recital: Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
2 p.m. Sunday, July 25, Boulder Public Library, Canyon Theater, $30. Click here for more information

Opera Workshop with composers Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfeinfeaturing scenes from a new adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's 1900 novel, "Sister Carrie"
7:30 p.m. Friday, July 30; 2 p.m. Saturday, July 31; Atlas Black Box, $15.Click here for more information

Opera Workshop with composer Daniel Kellogg, featuring "The Autumn Orchard," based on the life of Spanish Civil War poet Miguel Hernandez
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, and Friday, Aug. 6; 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7; Atlas Black Box, $15. Click here for more information