Martile Rowland, artistic director of Opera Theatre of the Rockies, has a philosophy: "You can never have too much chocolate or too much Puccini."
In its latest venture, the aptly named Puccini Spectacular, the company attempts to bring that sentiment to life. For the past eight years, OTR has been dazzling audiences with its productions, which have rivaled those of the more prominent opera companies to the north. (Last summer's Cinderella was a truly glorious affair, equal to, if not better than, a production of the same opera I saw in Santa Fe years ago.)
But when it comes to Puccini, one opera just isn't enough. This spring, Rowland will direct the company in performing acts from three of the great composer's operas.
This challenge, from which most companies would flee, has no room for divas. The opera world may be known for its larger-than-life personalities, but in this production, there aren't just two or three stars. In the Spectacular, there are 20. And more than 100 singers.
"A very important part of our mission statement is to support the emerging artist," explains Rowland, who founded the company in 1998 after building an international reputation as a soprano. "In addition to featuring seasoned professionals, we also give young singers opportunities to perform leading roles at the beginning of their careers.
"Presenting entire acts of three different Puccini operas gives our audience the opportunity to hear more fabulous voices in one performance than usual. So it is a win for the performer and a win for the audience."
The Spectacular will include acts from Turandot, Tosca and arguably Puccini's most famous opera, La Bohme (whose fame is due in large part to the mainstream success of the Broadway musical and 2005 film Rent).
So, why Puccini?
"I think more singers and audience members have been converted to the world of opera during a Puccini performance than with any other composer," Rowland says. "When we were recently in a high school, giving a preview ... one young woman came up to me afterward and asked, "Why is it that I just started crying when Tosca began to sing? I just couldn't help it it just happened.'
"That's the answer to "Why Puccini?'"
The legendary composer's work certainly made an impact on Rowland.
"The first time I saw La Bohme and the first time I saw Tosca were when I knew that I had to be part of this crazy operatic world."
Pikes Peak Center for the
190 S. Cascade Ave.
Saturday, May 6, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 7, 3 p.m.