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‘The Blacksmith’ will play at Mancos Opera House

Tickets now available
At a Mancos summer event, Ryan Brown, director of Opera Lafayette, and Andrew Saletta, Mancos music teacher, share a preview of the comic opera “The Blacksmith.” The a two-act French comic opera will be performed this spring at the Mancos Opera House.

Tickets are available for an opera coming to the Mancos Opera House in May.

“The Blacksmith,” a two-act French comic opera that is being updated to Mancos in the late 19th century, will be performed by Opera Lafayette in collaboration with the Mancos Creative District and Opera House. Philip Walters, co-owner of the Mancos Opera House, said the show marks a first for the site.

“To our knowledge, this will be the first professional opera company to perform in the venue, and it will be a great kickoff after the current construction work,” Walters said.

The Mancos Opera House has been undergoing restorations in the past year. Built in 1910, the ground floor once housed a drugstore and butcher shop, while the second floor provided a space for community gatherings and theatrical productions, with a large stage and balcony seating.

Philip and Linda Walters have been involved in Opera House preservation efforts since they moved to Mancos in the late 1990s, and when the building came on the market in 2017 they purchased it – making sure it wasn’t turned into apartments.

The Walters have partnered with the Mancos Creative District for the restorations. They are focused on preserving the historical integrity of the structure, while bringing it up to code and making it more usable for community events.

And soon, the looming building along Grand Avenue will play host to an actual opera.

The show will be performed by actors and musicians from Opera Lafayette, a professional group based in Washington, D.C. The Mancos performances are scheduled for April 30, May 2 and May 3, and then the show will move to at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and in New York.

The April 30 show will include student and community musicians.

“The Blacksmith” was composed in 1762 by Francois-Andre Danican Philidor. The Mancos show will have a Western twist, set in 1890s Mancos by the company’s artistic director Ryan Brown and stage director Nick Olcott.

Brown has family roots in the Mancos Valley, and he drew on its history in updating the opera. He cited the work of his grandmother Lottie Reddert, who lived in Mancos, as influencing the creative process. Reddert wrote “Cow Talk: The Memoirs of George W. Menefee, an Early Day Cattleman of the Southwest.”

“When I read about the fiddler Lafayette Guymon in ‘Cow Talk,’ my grandmother’s recounting of George Menefee’s tales, I thought, if a French fiddler with a cabin the other side of Hogback could play dances in Mancos in 1890, there wasn’t any reason we couldn’t bring ‘The Blacksmith’ to the Mancos Opera House in 2020,” he said.

The performances will include American folk songs, and the audience will be invited to sing along.

The tickets available for purchase are for the shows on Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3. Tickets are available at the Mancos Creative District website, and cost $50 for the Saturday gala performance and $15 for the Sunday show.

ealvero@the-journal.com