By Glory Weisberg
The Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein twosome delivered unforgettable musical Broadway shows and movies and their Show Boat production was one of their best.
Based on the novel by that name, Edna Ferber’s original work, which was first performed in 1927, is still magnificent today.
The Central City Opera 2013 season held the opera in the Temple Buell Theatre as part of their new agenda bringing one opera per summer season to Denver, keeping its other two productions in Central City. That plan is a winner and their rendition of Show Boat was such a rousing success we literally leaped out of our seats, clapping and cheering as the final curtain came down. I remember the movie version of the musical and when it hit the Buell stage, I still recalled virtually every word, silently mouthing each lyric.
The opera, in English of course, was beautifully staged with magnificent operatic voices. This is the Harold Prince version of Show Boat that originally hit the stage lights in 1994 and brings whole new generations to fall in love with it.
Opera supporter Nancy Parker noted just before the Aug. 10 matinee performance that this was her third time seeing the opera in recent weeks.
This was a special afternoon for those who attended Riverboat Royale, a post-performance event at the Dikeou Collection, a few blocks from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
Offering Creole cuisine from Bayou Bob’s, the party included cocktails from Breckenridge Distillery and other yummy looking special drinks, augmented by live jazz performers, a palm reader, blackjack and Texas Hold’em faux gambling and Pop-up opera Central City Opera Ensemble Artists who sang their hearts out, mingling with the munching patrons, as stilt walker Matt Bergen added to the fun atmosphere.
Don and Arlene Mohler Johnson, Industrial Income and Perkins Cole, were sponsors.
Central City Opera staffers Heather Brecl and Valerie Hamlin made the rounds, making sure everyone was having a New Orleans style good time.
The 2014 Central City Opera Festival includes the Rogers and Hammerstein hit, The Sound of Music, which is that season’s Buell Theatre opera. The Marriage of Figaro and Dead Man Walking will be performed in Central City.