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Baby Doe comes home to Tabor Opera House

click to enlarge Judeth Shay Burns as Baby Doe.
  • Judeth Shay Burns as Baby Doe.

Opera, for some, connotes images of love and death, of exotic lands and foreign languages. Most, in fact, would probably not make the mental hurdle of connecting opera with mining in Leadville, Colo.

Be brave and make the leap. Highlights from the opera The Ballad of Baby Doe will be performed at the historic Tabor Opera House in Leadville, Baby Doe's hometown, the first weekend in September.

The program is a reduction of the full opera that was originally produced by Douglas Moore and John Latouche, which was commissioned by and premiered at Central City Opera in 1954. Today, The Ballad of Baby Doe has become one of the most popular of American operas, with the title role of Baby Doe having been performed by legendary soprano Beverly Sills when it premiered at the New York City Opera.

The Ballad of Baby Doe is, in the best operatic sense, a true tale of love triangles and tragedy. Horace and Augusta Tabor moved to Leadville and struck it rich by investing in silver mining ventures back in the 1800s. But Horace began an affair with Elizabeth Bonduel McCourt Doe, or "Baby Doe" and eventually left his wife for her. Complications arose later when it was discovered that his divorce from Augusta had never been legalized. The problem was ultimately sorted out, but still, despite Horace's financial success, adversity would continue to strike the Tabors. On Horace's deathbed, Baby Doe pledged to her husband that she would never relinquish the Matchless Mine, despite their newfound poverty.

Presented in collaboration with The Tabor Opera House and Colorado Springs' Opera Theatre of the Rockies, the program features Judeth Shay Burns as Baby Doe, Marcia Ragonetti as Augusta Tabor, and Steven Taylor as Horace Tabor. Debra Ayers, the pianist for the performance, put the show together to draw attention to the Tabor Opera House renovation plans.

-- Kara Luger

capsule Highlights from The Ballad of Baby Doe

Saturday, Sept. 4, 7 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 5, 2 p.m.

The Tabor Opera House, 308 Harrison Ave., Leadville, Colo.

Tickets $15 adults, $8 kids 17 and under

719/486-8409

  • Baby Doe comes home to Tabor Opera House

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