Friday, July 28, 2017

The Burning Fiery Furnace
Central City Opera: 7/27 – 8/6
Dean Murphy as the Herald (Photo credit: Amanda Tipton and Central City Opera)

Director Ken Cazan’s slant on Benjamin Britten’s atonal one-act opera, “The Burning Fiery Furnace,” is indelible and unforgettable. With succinct strokes of striking theatrical visuals, he mesmerizes the audience. One of Benjamin Britten’s “parables for church performance", it’s the story from the Book of Daniel about the three Israeli youths who refused to bow down to the golden image of the king, and were thrown into a fiery furnace. The show is done in the Japanese Noh style that Britten favored so much. As such there is exaggerated stage movement as well as an emphasis on percussion and bells.
    The rich, sonorous baritone of Dean Murphy’s performance in the role of the herald is the high point of the evening. Bille Bruley’s tenor singing King Nebuchadnezzar and Zhiguang Hong’s tenor as Abbott/Astrologer follow close behind.
     The three young Israelites are played by Humberto Borboa (Misael), Stephen Clark(Azarias) and Tim Murray(Ananias.) As the angel in the midst of the flames, Louise Rogan is exceptional. These artists, along with a teriffic ensemble of young singers from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, round out this superb evening of opera.
     In the roles of court "entertainers" Marlen Nahhas and Quinn Middleman are exuberant and funny. When they, along with the other women in the supporting cast are shunned by the monks at final curtain, director Cazan takes a swipe at the Church's anti-feminist stance with power!
     Conductor Christopher Zemliauskas surpassed expectations with his conducting of the outstanding eight-piece orchestra.

    In this reviewer's interesting point of view this production is more Miracle than Morality Play. And the real miracle will be you getting a ticket. I hope you can, but CCO's one-act operas sell out even earlier than those upon the MainStage. 

It will be performed one more time at the Martin Foundry on August 2 at noon.Marlowe's Musings

For tickets go online at or call 303-292-6700

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Stage Theatre:
 July 13 – Aug 6
L-R: Jenna Bainbridge, Ashley Kelashian and Maria Ciobanu (Photo credit: Michael Ensminger)

     PHAMALY’s production of the Tony Award-winning musical, “ANNIE” is a reason for celebration. Your heart will melt and a little bitty tear may let you down.

     Directed with style and flair by Regan Linton and Steve Wilson, and with music direction by Trent Hines, the show is a smash from start to finish.
     Veteran choreographers Debbie Stark and Ronni Gallup create magical dance numbers which the troupe delivers with exuberant joy.
     Maria Ciobanu sings and acts the part of the indomitable orphan, Annie, without ever slipping into the cloying cuteness that has marked the performances of others in the role.
     Leonard Barrett, Jr. (Marlowe Award for Best Actor in a Musical for donnie i. betts’ “Porgy and Bess”) is smashing in the acting and singing of the part of Oliver Warbucks.
     Ashley Kelashian crushes it as Miss Hannigan.
     Lyndsay Palmer(last season’s sensational Sally Bowles in PHAMALY’s “CABARET”) is hilarious as the dim and devious low-brow Lily St. Regis. Randy Hahn’s low-life scheming Rooster is most memorable.
     Jenna Bainbridge (Grace) is as easy on the eyes as her celestial vocals are a delight to the ear.
Lucy Roucis, Mark Dissette and Don Mauck are just a few of the other PHAMALY regulars you will be glad to see onstage.
     The projection design by Topher Blair, aided and abetted in no small part by technical director Brandon Case, places us in the perfect right historical and political milieu with ease.
     This is one of the very best musicals onstage this summer.

     Run to get a ticket!Marlowe's Musings

Call 303-365-3005 or go online at to purchase tickets.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


L-R: Adriano Graziani and Emily Pulley ( Photo credit: Amanda Tipton)


This reviewer has seen Carmen performed by Central City Opera at least four times in the past 20 years, and although each production excelled, this production outshines them all.
     One of the reasons this production of Carmen is so successful, is that director Jose Maria Condemi has cast the show’s four principal characters with singers who are also talented actors.
     Emily Pulley’s portrayal of Carmen is luminous. Her passionate acting is exquisitely nuanced and her vocals transcendent. Ms. Pulley performs the fiery Habanera from Act One with indelible brio!
     Baritone Michael Mayes, who stunned audiences in the previous two seasons at CCO as Joseph de Rocher in “Dead Man Walking” and then as the heinous Scarpia in “Tosca,” rivets as the adored bullfighter ,Escamillo. Maes’ rousing rendition of the “Toreador Song” from Act Two is powerful!
      As Don Jose, the soldier that tantalizing Carmen seduces - and ultimately ruins - Adriano Graziani stuns!
     In her brilliant portrayal of Micaela,Don Jose’s childhood sweetheart,
 Angela Mortellaro’s soaring soprano intoxicates.
     The choral work is powerful! How could it be otherwise with a chorus full of soloists from CCO’s training program for young opera singers?
      Under the baton of conductor Adam Turner, the luscious Central City Opera orchestra is always in synch with the actors/singers onstage and never overpowers the vocals.
     Shocking and scandalizing its first audiences at its opening in 1875, Bizet felt that Carmen was a failure when he died suddenly after its 33rd performance. According to opera historian James Anderson, Tchaikovsky correctly predicted that Bizet’s Carmen “would be the most popular of operas in ten years.”
     In a recent interview Pelham (Pat) Pearce, the General/Artistic Director of Central City Opera, described Bizet’s “Carmen” as “the gateway drug to opera.”
     He’s right! Whether opera virgin or jaded critic, “Carmen” is a heart-pounding mesmerizer so full of beloved arias that it makes one hunger to experience more of this great Art.
     This production comes with high recommendations from this critic’s desk.

                 Not to be missed! 

                 Marlowe's Musings

The Central City opera house is located at 124 Eureka Street, Central City, Colorado,80427.

For tickets go online at or call 303-292-6700.