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Colorado love triangle land in Glenwood

Stina SiegPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado It seems that all Coloradans have this story of Horace Tabor ingrained in them. He was a rich fool, who ended up leaving his cold wife for a young, gold-digging tart. In the end, Karma bit them all.Simple right?Not so fast.What they dont see is the kind of love and devotion these people had for each other, said Marcia Ragonetti, aka Augusta Tabor.For the last eight years, shes been performing in the opera Highlights from the Ballad of Baby Doe. In it, only the three principle characters reenact this classic story of wealth, power and love. Performed in English in just 90 minutes (record time, by operatic standards), the piece is meant to be greatly accessible and show the humanity behind this most epic of stories.Theres really no victims. Theres really no villains, said Ragonetti. Theres just three really strong people, swirling around each other.Steve Taylor is one of them. For him, playing Horace is no black-and-white experience. First off, theres personal history for him in this, as his great aunt, Anna, was Horaces dance partner in Leadville many a time. In fact, she bought a bedroom set from him which is still on display at Glenwoods Frontier Historical Museum. Beyond the family connection, though, Horace is still fascinating to Taylor. This is a man who worked his tail off for decades before hitting it rich in silver in 1878. He was a man who helped countless others achieve wealth and built up the state of Colorado. He also had hardly any money sense and left his wife of more than 20 years (Augusta) for woman much younger (Baby). His tale is one of rags to riches and back to rags again.

Its almost the story of every man, I think, who desires to have power and money, said Taylor. I play him to be genuinely human. Anyway, he went on, how can fame and fortune not affect your psyche? It cant help but make you a little crazy. But that doesnt mean Horaces love for Baby Doe was somehow invalid. In fact, Taylor, along with the rest of the cast, deeply believes that this romance was the real deal.It wasnt a fling, he insisted. It was really a true love kind of thing.In the words of Judeth Shay Burns, Baby Does alter ego, Its a beautiful love story.When she plays Baby Doe, she knows the women in the audience hate her. But that just makes her performance that much more interesting. This is about stepping outside her own sense of right and wrong and letting this story envelop her. Horace may have been foolish at times. Augusta may have been cold. Baby Doe may have been immature. And so what?I cant bring in judgment for a person Im going to play, said Burns. All I can do is love her. Thats how you tell the story.Its also how you get people to care. Pianist Debra Ayers, who accompanies the evening, sees that compassion in audiences. She originally created this pared opera after seeing it performed in its entirety by the same singers in a Theater of the Rockies version in 2000. Since then, this highlights show has traveled all around Colorado and made many stops at the famous Tabor Opera House in Leadville.They love it, she said, of her audiences. They want to come back and hear it again. They love the history.This isnt a snooty show, she explained. Its not hard to understand. Its not just for aficionados. Its core is its beautiful music, its three singers, all so dedicated to their characters. Its themes, too, are universal heart-breakingly so.Perhaps thats why, by the shows end, she said, Theres not a dry eye in the house.Now, thats history coming alive.


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