The ritual is about to begin — or begin again, we should say. The weather heats up, the snow finally melts away and Coloradans hit the road for some of the best art, dance, opera and orchestra concerts on the planet.
Painters, pianists and ballerinas love to spend their summers in these parts, and we’ve learned to seize the moment.
Here are 10 promising options for when you’re ready to gas up and go.
“Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric”
Through Sept. 11, SITE Santa Fe
Jeffrey Gibson’s eclectic works of art are rooted in the symbols of his Native American background, but his messages about marginalization are universal. So is the appeal of the diverse objects in this retrospective that span painting to sculpture to video to performance. Gibson’s art is overly colorful, larger than life, full of personality and super fun to be around. Two more good things about SITE: It’s always free and has a stellar gift shop. 1606 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, NM Info: 505-989-1199 or sitesantafe.org.
Through Sept. 11, Aspen Art Museum
The Aspen Art Museum pushes boundaries with this warm-weather exhibition, giving over nearly all of its gallery space to video. This show comes with serious cred, with all of the work borrowed from two major collections, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Rosenkranz Collection. The lineup of artists is equally impressive, with Kahlil Joseph, Kandis Williams and Arthur Jafa leading the roster. Aspen is attempting something interesting here, connecting stories about human migration to “the histories and geographies of the mountains and their ecological systems.” We’ll have to see it to fully understand. 637 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen. Info: 970-925-8050 or aspenartmuseum.org.
James Turrell’s “Skyspace”
Opening June 18, Green Box Arts Festival
Artist James Turrell is a legend in the light art world, creating dozens of installations near and far that attempt to capture the sensory pleasures of light as it moves across the land. His latest, “Skyspace,” is the main attraction at this year’s Green Box Arts Festival, and it’s both a coup and a carrot for the fest: the first “Skyspace” in Colorado; the first set on a mountainside; and the best reason possible to check out this fledgling event in Green Mountain Falls, which is located about 25 minutes northwest of downtown Colorado Springs. Reserve a tour of the artwork soon and explore the exact location, as well as the entire fest schedule, on the website. Overlooking Gazebo Lake, near 6990 Lake St., Green Mountain Falls. Info: 719-465-3065 or greenboxarts.org.
July 1-Aug. 27, Santa Fe Opera
Mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard was born to sing “Carmen.” She’s got the voice and the attitude to pull it off, and so I’m keeping the faith that this production, helmed by French stage director Mariame Clément in her first Santa Fe Opera outing, will come together for some real magic. The company is going all out for the show, so expect smashing sets and costumes by Julia Hansen and earnest accompaniment from the orchestra led by in-house musical director Harry Bicket. Crosby Theater, 301 Opera Drive, Santa Fe, NM Info: 505-986-5900 or santafeopera.org.
July 10-31, Central City Opera
Central City has programmed opera light this summer, a change in direction from its recent history of taking on the genre’s heavy-hitters. There is one particularly bright spot in the lineup, especially for fans of traditional fare: Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus.” Light, flitty and funny despite itself, the operetta is a promising destination for one of those lovely drives into the mountains capped by some pleasing musical fare in the state’s most historic performing arts venue. This is a good year to support the company by purchasing a ticket or two. Central City Opera House, Central City. Info: 303-292-6500 or centralcityopera.org.
The Philadelphia Orchestra plays Copland and Brahms
July 16, Bravo! Vail Music Festival
Catching The Philadelphia Orchestra during its annual summer residency in Vail is always a sure bet, but this concert has some added excitement. It’s all about the program, an unusual mix of musical selections that we don’t get to hear around here too often. That includes Bruch’s Double Concerto for Clarinet, Viola and Orchestra (featuring Philly soloists Ricardo Morales and Choong-Jin Chang); Copland’s super-short, palete cleanser, “Fanfare for the Common Man”; and Brahms’ career-capping, Symphony No. 4. Local classical fans will understand how different this lineup is. Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, 530 Frontage Road, Vail. Info: 877-812-5700 or bravovail.org.
Limón Dance Company
Aug. 1, Vail International Dance Festival
Since it was founded by the late movement pioneer José Limón in the 1940s, the Limón Dance Company has been one of the country’s premiere contemporary troupes — historic, iconic and ground-breaking all the while. It’s a wonder that the company never made it to the Vail Dance Fest until now. The debut is welcome and the best reason to head to Vail all summer. The Aug. 1 program mixes old and newer works, so it will serve as a swell introduction for folks unfamiliar with Limón pleasures.
Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, 530 Frontage Road, Vail. Info: 877-812-5700 or bravovail.org.
July 30-Aug. 24, Santa Fe Opera
Writer David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly” was a hit play about opera, so it only makes sense that Hwang would turn it into the opera about opera that has its world premiere in Santa Fe this summer. As a librettist, Hwang has a capable partner in composer Huang Ruo, whose musical creations have been performed by top-tier orchestras across continents. This is one of the most-anticipated classical music moments of 2022 and comes with the potential to make countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim a major star in the business. Crosby Theater, 301 Opera Drive, Santa Fe, NM Info: 505-986-5900 or santafeopera.org.
Aug. 4, Aspen Music Festival
Lawrence Brownlee is one of the opera’s busiest tenors these days, carving out a career that combines star turns in newly commissioned works with a string of recitals throughout the country. This concert, one of Aspen’s highlights, will show his remarkable vocal and dramatic range but retain the sort of intimate setting where he shines best. The program ranges from warhorse standards to spirituals. Myra Huang accompanies on piano. Harris Concert Hall, downtown Aspen. Info: 970-925-9042 or aspenmusicfestival.com.
An Evening of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Melissa White
Aug. 11, Aspen Music Festival
File this one under “very special.” A founding member of the Harlem Quartet, violinist Melissa White has earned raves as both an ensemble player and a soloist. For her Aspen debut, she has picked up a showstopper, Vivaldi’s phenomenally popular “Four Seasons,” which she will perform at the Harris Concert Hall. Expect this event to be up-close and personal — and memorable. Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor is also on the program. Harris Concert Hall, downtown Aspen. Info: 970-925-9042 or aspenmusicfestival.com.
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