Tony and Maria's secret love affair in West Side Story is one of American musical theater's most beloved and tragic romances, and this summer Central City Opera takes a bold step in producing it. Diverging from its recent years of classic American opera production, the foothills-based company challenges viewers to consider the fine line between opera and musical theater. "The music is about the characters," says West Side Story director Ken Cazan. But don't go to Central City expecting the colorful and swank movie version of this musical. This new show holds true to the poverty that shook New York City in the 1950s, with crumbling buildings, piles of bricks, and abandoned tubs comprising the set. West Side Story: August 2, 6, 9, Central City Opera, Central City.
In naming her after an Italian musical notation—meaning to play with sweetness—Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's parents practically willed their daughter to live a musical life. And Rice, despite her long list of other accomplishments, hasn't disappointed. At age 15 she entered the University of Denver as a music major, and since then she has played with the Denver Symphony (the precursor to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra) and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. This month, she joins the Aspen Music Festival and School to play Dvorák and Brahms. Words and Music with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: August 2, Benedict Music Tent, Aspen.
Head to the mountains this month and you're likely to run into packs of thirsty cyclists. The Colorado summer is littered with competitive bike races, which get the heart pumping but leave less aggressive riders puffing behind. Venus de Miles wants to break that custom. In its first year, this homegrown, women-only bike ride offers a more laid-back approach to cycling. The ride offers two courses, one 35 miles long and the other 65 miles, and on both routes rest breaks are encouraged enthusiastically. All proceeds go to Greenhouse Scholars, a Boulder-based nonprofit that helps high-achieving college students with limited resources. Venus de Miles: August 17, Prospect Park, Longmont.
Robert Sher-Machherndl is not your typical ballet choreographer. The founder of Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet, and an acclaimed European dancer, Sher-Machherndl is known for inventing moves mid-practice and changing choreography between productions. What holds true between each Sher-Machherndl dance is a blend of pointe technique and contemporary movement. In this month's world premiere of A Strange Land, Sher-Machherndl maintains this style but guides his production with one idea—every time you move to a new place you enter a strange land. A Strange Land: August 16, Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder.