Colorado Springs is not a city associated with world premiere semi-staged production. But on Aug. 14, it will be just that. In a cooperative effort with Central City Opera, Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and Syracuse Pops Chorus, the Colorado Springs Conservatory will present the world premiere of How Green Was My Valley.
Based on the 1939 novel of the same name by Richard Llewellyn, this stage adaptation was composed by Pulitzer Prize nominee Roger Ames with libretto by his wife Elizabeth Bassine. It examines how the advent of mining changes life in a small town in Wales.
Last year, Ames told the East Hampton Star, "I was attracted to Valley because the novel is so rich in both drama and lyricism. The Welsh language emerges in a way that would appeal to any composer. Moreover, Elizabeth and I are inclined to put a lens on sociopolitical issues. During the time we've been writing this piece, hundreds of men have died in mining accidents, and untold damage to the environment has taken place."
The cast includes current Conservatory students and alumni, including Matt McMahan (currently performing in Les Miserables), as well as performers both local and New York-based.
How did this come to pass?
"The seed was planted last fall," says Colorado Springs Conservatory CEO Linda Weise. "I took 17 community leaders to see what goes on behind the scenes in creating a new work in New York City."
The group discussed what it costs to premiere a creative work in New York City and how theater draws people to the area. They wondered why Colorado Springs couldn't champion these same efforts.
And by way of networking, more discussions and scheduling, then they made it happen.
Will this set a certain musical-theater precedent for Colorado Springs? Seems like a good start.