As the end of my birthday week celebration (or at least the first week of my birthday month celebration), MKL and I went to see La Boheme at the Central City Opera on Friday night.

It was magical.  Our last opera was The Marriage of Figaro by Opera Colorado in February.  If you’ve never seen an opera, I don’t recommend Marriage of Figaro as your first one.  I love opera, but haven’t seen one in about 17 years, and “Figaro” was four hours long and tough to follow, which made me wonder why I loved opera in the past.  But La Boheme made me remember.

We drove Tristan, MKL’s BMW show car, up to Central City just in time for an appetizer and a glass of champagne at the Teller House as the sun dropped below the mountains.   The Teller House fortunately still has an air of age and elegance to it.

Though the Face in the Barroom Floor has faded, as has much of the grandness of this former mining boom town since gambling was introduced back in the early 1990s.

The Face in the Barroom Floor – image from centralcityoperafestival.blogspot.com

We still had a little time to peek inside some buildings that have not been tainted by slot machines and blackjack tables, including the Williams Stables, which is also the purvey of the Central City Opera, and which holds small pre-performance excerpts of whatever is playing.

And the dagger in that picture?  REALLY sharp and totally unattended.

You are notified that it is almost time to head in for the performance by the staff marching up the street singing, by the ringing of handheld bells, and by  ten-minute, five-minute announcements, a friendly and gentle reminder to get your buns in gear.

Image from centralcityoperafestival.blogspot.com

It takes no time to get to your seat, and the interior of the Opera House is intimate, old, and beautiful.

As photos weren’t allowed during the performance, I borrowed this one from the Central City Opera website.

The Central City players performing La Boheme

This version of La Boheme was staged in Paris in the 1930s, and sung in Italian. The subtitles on the foot of the stage were very helpful, even though I knew the storyline, and I played with my own memory of two years of college Italian to see if I could catch any words or phrases. I must say, the subtitles were pretty loose with their translation, but it was still easy to follow.  The orchestra was seated beneath the stage, and I could just see the tops of their heads from our seats in the fourth row.

At intermission, we retreated to the darkened, romantic, terraced garden for a glass of wine.

Central City Opera House Courtyard image courtesy of http://www.waymarking.com

Every performer had a simply heavenly voice, and we both cried at the end (spoiler alert) when Mimi died.

It was a lovely evening, though it was late as we started home, and we had just reached the turn-off to I-70, when Tristan decided to play out his own death scene. Yep, he died.  And no amount of MKL’s roll-up-your-sleeves sensor/relay switching and eventual tire iron thumping made him start. My view was approximately this:

We wound up our evening with a long ride in a cushy (really!) tow truck, learning about life story of Ryan, owner of Father and Son Towing and longtime acquaintance of MKL.  It was a little surreal, but totally charming.

A marvelous birthday present…