Friday, August 21, 2009

The work begins...

The Board of High Desert Opera has set in motion the 2009 New Year’s Eve performance of "Man of La Mancha". Efforts are underway to choose a theatre location and HDO is looking into the possibility of performing once again at the Montrose Pavilion.

The New Year's Eve performance of “Man of La Mancha” will be a fully staged production filled with Western Slope vocalists. HDO's Artistic Director Jim Werner is working on the orchestrations and is scheduling auditions.

The role of “Don Quixote” has been cast. All other roles are still open and will be filled through the audition process. Once cast, the chorus will begin it's rehearsal process.

HDO chorus members give generously of their time. They are often full time employees or full time students. Chorus members meet on Saturdays for two hours several months before starting the intense last two weeks before the performance. By starting rehearsals early our busy chorus members are able to learn the challenging music of opera.

Maybe you should consider joining us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Auditions to be held for HDO New Year's Eve performance

High Desert Opera will be holding auditions for their New Year’s Eve performance of “Man of La Mancha” Saturday, August 29th. This is an opportunity for Western Slope vocalists/performers to be considered for principal roles and the chorus.

To schedule your audition please call Jim Werner at (970) 270-7989.

A successful High Desert Opera Summer 2009 Opera Festival

Audience members at three different performances on the Western Slope enjoyed Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Sorcerer”. Guest were greeted at the door by local villagers from “Ploverleigh” (the town where “The Sorcerer” takes place) inviting everyone to join the feast celebrating the “plighting” (betrothal) of Alexis and Aline.

Prior to the curtain rising, Gilbert himself (aka Thom King) announced that the original actor cast to play “John Wellington Wells” was taken ill from eating some questionable oysters for lunch. Due to management’s good fortune, the audience’s disappointment soon subsided when Gilbert announced that he had agreed to perform the sorcerer’s role.

This production provided many humorous and memorable moments to expound upon. To mention a few; the character played by James Werner “Sir Marmaduke Pointdexter” appeared to have the most grave face and demeanor. Once he drank the philtre (potion) his obvious un-bounding joy, plus his choice of love, took his son (Alexis) and his betrothal (Aline) completely by surprise. The humorous change was not lost on the audience. Alexis and Aline quickly regained their composure to support Marmaduke’s near rapturous affections.

Christopher McKim’s character, “Dr. Daly, the Vicar of Ploverleigh”, wistful thoughts of “love unfulfilled” transformed after drinking the philtre. He found every woman of Ploverleigh “quite comely” (attractive). You could hear the chuckles from the audience as he sought to control his affectionate heart upon meeting some one new of the fairer sex. Expressing that they to where “quite commonly”. McKim’s choice of character attributes made one feel humorously sympathetic towards Daly’s magically induced desire for love.

With “John Wellington Wells”, played by Thom King, it was easy to get caught up in his energetic and contagious personality when it came to the use of his family’s magical “philtre”. His addition of current events used during his deflection of the unwanted philtre induced affections of “Lady Sangazure”, played by Shazy King, caused a resounding laugh from the audience.

The mixture of all the talented vocalist/performers in this production set in motion a performance filled with fun and memorable scenes. It just must be said that this was a production that should not have been missed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Letter to the HDO Board

The following is an excerpt from a letter that the High Desert received, in response to the New Year's Eve Gala, from one of our wonderful donors!


Dear (HDO Board Members) Tarasina, Leah, Ellora, Jim & Ed,

Congratulations on another fantastic New &Year’s Eve Gala! I had a blast and… my employees said the performance was wonderful!

…I will be making a donation to the HDO, in memory of my parents…

The High Desert Opera is so incredible on so many levels: it provides first class entertainment; it spreads the love of music and opera appreciation; it is full of extraordinarily wonderful and talented people; it provides outlets for people of all ages to perform; and most of all, music spreads much needed love, joy, hope and peace. I am really pleased to play my role and am continually blown away at the selfless roles each of you play. I will do whatever I can to make sure it thrives.

Best Regards,

Steve Doyle

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A letter to the High Desert Opera

"James Werner is to be congratulated for the impressive staging and presention of the Gala. The Robinson Theater is certainly more appropriate for this time of performance....

Also, with the frigid weather, we were pleased to be on our way home in time to eat out....

"The performers noticeably enjoyed being a part of the Gala. By far the most demanding and intricate arias were performed by Tara De Bruin Gatseos. Her costuming was excellent and she was a real live doll in: "Olympia's Song".

"After David Brubaker finished singing "Maria" I caught my breath. I had been sitting on my seat anticipating every note. My daughter looked over at me and said, "He nailed it."

"It would be beyond my ablility to name all the great performances. Briefly, James Warner's backround in "Let Me Live for Pleasure", "Tarasina Campagni", "The Ensemble", and Jeffrey Stroud enjoying pounding on that anvil stand out in memory. When Tyson Repke walked on the stage I had thoughtful giggle that he looked like and Italian tenor. It just added to the pleasure.

"This was a New Year's Eve Gala that I will not soon forget. Again, thank you for a wonderful start to 2009."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Welcome to the High Desert Opera Blog!

Welcome to the new High Desert Opera Blog!

New Year's Eve Gala

We've got a wonderful season in store for you, and as we firm up our plans, we'll keep you posted! Don't miss our upcoming summer program, to be announced shortly.

Opera 101 events are coming soon and an Opera Wine Train is in the works!

To get you started, here are some upcoming events:

Dinner and an Opera
The next Dinner & an Opera event featuring Mozart's comic opera, The Marriage of Figaro, will be held Friday evening, February 27, beginning at 5:30 pm the the UTEC Culinary School 2508 Blichmann Ave. We will dine on:

Lemon Herb Roast Chicken au jus served with
Chefs seasonal vegetables
Bread and beverage

Desert is Pear-Cranberry Tart served at intermission during the viewing.

After the main meal, we will move to the adjacent projection room for a brief Informance on the opera followed by a DVD projection of the opera. This performance features Rene Fleming early in her career and Gerald Finley as Figaro performing at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in England. It is opera buffa that entertains as well as illuminates our foibles. In addition, this opera is speckled with beautiful melodies and profound insights.

Dinner and the viewing is $30 per person. Viewing and dessert only is $10 per person.

Come join us for a wonderful evening of food, conversation, and opera.

Reservations are required. Call Melinda Wilson at 970.242.3703 or email with the number in your party and if you are dinner or viewing only. We must have a minimum of 40 reservations for dinner by Feb 19. Our maximum for dinner is 50 people. Please make you reservaions early.

Report on Metropolitan Opera Live Simulcast
Last Feb 7, 11:00 AM at least 8 people from Grand Junction traveled to Denver to view the Metropolitan Opera's live telecast of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. It was spectacular. Rolando Villazon was sick resulting in Piotr Beczala substituting at the last minute. He was spectacular. We will likely hear more of his singing. Anna Netrebko was returning to the Met after giving birth to her first child last fall. Her singing was technically impeccable & emotionally overwhelming. The simulcast is produced as if they are making a movie in realtime (no retakes). When the score of an overture features the harp, you see a full screen view of the harpist. When a soloist is making a partiularly emotional statement you see a full screen shot of the face of the soloist. IDuring the two lengthy intermissions an interviewer converses with the soloists, conductor, technical staging people and you see the backstage bustle required by the set changes. In addition to these features, the sense of being at the Met was so strong that opera buffs applauded individual arias, duets, and the famous sextet as if they were in the Met audience.
If you like opera, make sure you attend at least one performance at the Met in your life. In the meantime, don't miss these simulcasts, they are spectacular.
You can view a replay of this broadcast on Feb 18, 7 pm or Mar 11, at 1 pm. Go to for theater locations in Denver. I am petitioning Regal Entertainment to screen this program here in Grand Junciton. I will put information on this page if I am successful.

Opera Seminars
High Desert Opera produces 3 different seminars. Two are directed at music lovers that are new to opera (101 & 102) and the third is designed for those seeking a greater understanding of a specific opera (401). If you would like to request one of these seminars be presented at your service club or other organization contact Ed Arnos at 245-4914 or email