As part of my duties on the faculty of Western Colorado University in Gunnison, CO, for the past three years I have been the Stage Director of the Opera Libretto Workshop that takes place during our summer intensive. In 2017 I staged Act One of the original American folk opera Lottie Silks by composer Justus (Jay) Parrotta and librettist Enid Holden. In 2018 I staged Act Two.
In July 2019, after three years of mentoring Enid on the libretto rewrites, I staged the first full-length reading of the newly-completed Lottie Silks. The audience was extremely enthusiastic both at the performance, and during the Q&A I conducted afterward. Lottie Silks is based on a real life love story and tragedy that happened in Gunnison, CO. In fact, Enid and her husband Paul live in the house that was once the story’s dance hall! The Dean of Graduate Studies was so impressed by our performance that he has already offered to help with mounting the 202o workshop.
I’m incredibly proud of Enid, Jay, our conductor/pianist Sarah Holtan Stai (absent from the photo below), and our entire cast of superb opera artists: Clara Nieman, Adam Ewing, Jason Baldwin, Phoenix Gayles, Sarah Stone, and Joshua Zabatta. All delivered a beautiful evening of storytelling. We had approximately six hours to work on music, six hours to work on staging, and one dress rehearsal before our performance. The performers made strong choices, took direction beautifully, and sang their hearts out. Bravi. I’d also like to thank Jay’s father Frank Parrotta, who took rehearsal photographs and recorded the entire performance. The opera’s magic realism ending was my idea, and I’m thrilled with how Enid and Jay embraced it and brought it to life. If you’re an opera fan, you can watch the staged reading here. The voices are gorgeous. The performance runs about two hours. Enjoy.