Opera Steamboat’s talented and passionate Artistic Director Andres Cladera aims to make a night at the opera fun for the whole family.
If the idea of opera conjures up images of fancy clothes, velvet curtains, balcony seats and singers belting out big voices in a language you may not understand for an hours-long performance, you’re not alone.
That’s why Opera Steamboat’s Artistic Director Andres Cladera has focused much of his time and energy to education and outreach. From creating opera programs for Routt County schools working with local non-profits like Horizons, recruiting local talent for summer productions and producing kid-friendly productions, Cladera cares deeply about making opera something everyone will enjoy. He is also the Associate Conductor with Opera Colorado and is responsible for bringing some of the world’s premier opera singers to Steamboat, cultivating a summer festival that is known for grooming new talent.
We caught up with Cladera to talk about bringing big international voices to a small mountain town.
First tell us about how you ended up in Steamboat.
Originally, I’m from Uruguay. I came to college in the U.S. as a pianist and a vocalist with the desire of becoming a conductor, particularly in opera. My husband and I ended up moving to Denver because of his job, so I started working with Opera Colorado as their Associate Conductor. When Emerald City Opera [now Opera Steamboat] was looking for a new Artistic Director, I got the job. This summer will be my third season working with the company.
Aside from a new name, what else has changed since you started?
We used to get about 50 people that auditioned for our summer productions. This year we have close to 150. We’ve earned a reputation for being a training program for young singers who want great musical coaching and training working with great conductors, directors and singers in a beautiful setting. I’m of a younger generation that is really wanting to focus on engaging a younger audience and making opera fun and accessible. We’ve done more works in English with relevant social subject matter, topics that are going to connect with a 21st century audience. We’re always trying to engage with the community and create more opportunities to bring opera to everyone, not just people who enjoy it, but to people who have never experienced it before.
Our summer festival starts July 24th and runs through August 13th. Our main concert is an Italian opera, “Cavalleria Rusticana” on August 4th. Then we’re doing a Baroque opera called “Alcina” on August 10th and 12th and “The Enchanted Pig,” a fairy tale that’s great for kids on August 11th and 12th. This is part of a concentrated effort we’ve made to always include family friendly opera. We also offer voice master classes.
You do a ton of outreach and education.
My passion is music education and bringing operatic opportunities to the schools in rural areas of Colorado. This year we collaborated with Opera Colorado and brought performers to schools in Steamboat, Oak Creek and Hayden. We’ve also had local kids sing in the chorus for our performances. It’s something I’m very proud of because that’s how I started. I was in a children’s chorus and loved it from the get-go. I hope these kids are inspired to enjoy a life in music.
What is it like working in such a rural part of Colorado with such a cosmopolitan medium? What kind of reception have you had?
Our audience is continuously growing. The biggest challenge has been for people to get to know us and know we exist. Yes, there is opera in Steamboat!
What are some of the events and artists coming this summer to look out for?
Alexandra Lobianco and Jonathon Burton are incredibly talented professional singers that are rising stars in the opera world that are both coming to Steamboat. We’re also doing a special event at the Bud Werner Memorial Library on July 26th to celebrate our 15th Anniversary. Michele DeYoung, an international opera star who performs with the Metropolitan Opera is coming to do a master class and a short performance. It’s not to be missed!
The Porches is a proud lodging sponsor of Opera Steamboat. To learn more about this summer’s festival visit www.operasteamboat.com or contact our concierge to arrange ticket purchase and transportation to and from the event.
Arias and Ensembles enjoying their stay at The Porches