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Denver diva makes 'Christmas Symphony' sparkle on Sunday
Who: Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Colorado Springs Chorale with mezzo-soprano Marcia Ragonetti
When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.
Tickets: $19-$59; 520-7469 or 1-866-464-2626, pikespeakcenter.com
Marcia Ragonetti was named Denver’s Best Diva in 2012 by the city's alternative weekly, Westword. But the Denver performer is not letting that title go to her head.
“I’m used to being the diva in waiting,” Ragonetti says with a laugh. “As a mezzo-soprano I never really carry the show."
On Sunday, when she accompanies the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and the Colorado Springs Chorale for the "Christmas Symphony," she will do some heavy lifting.
Ragonetti started performing with Opera Colorado more than 30 years ago, but considers Colorado Springs her second musical home. She’s worked with the Colorado Springs Chorale and its music director Don Jenkins as well as Martile Rowland, who is founder and artistic director of the Opera Theatre of the Rockies. Ragonetti first performed in the Pikes Peak Center 23 years ago and says she’s still a little intimidated by the size (“It’s such a big, big hall").
“I love coming down to the Springs,” says Ragonetti, who lives in Denver. She says that Thomas Wilson, associate conductor of the philharmonic, hired her for this gig after hearing her play Desiree Armfeldt who sings "Send in the Clowns" in “A Little Night Music.” Wilson was playing trumpet in the pit orchestra for that show.
This Christmas symphony includes such standards as “The Messiah,” selections from “The Nutcracker,” and “Oh, Holy Night.” Also on the bill are selections from the films “Home Alone” and the suite from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But not every song will be familiar to audiences. In particular, she notes the song “Christmas Once More” by contemporary songwriter Gene Scheer.
The performance culminates with an audience singalong at the end.
Though she prefers her carols more poignant than cheery (favorite are “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “The Holly and the Ivy"), she knows audiences love the tradition of the classic songs. “People want to hear ‘White Christmas,’” she says.
She sees only one concern with such familiar classics. “You know there’s a problem if you forget the words.”
How does she keep things fresh for audiences? “Well, you wear a really great dress,” she says in true diva fashion. She purchased a new red dress for the event.
Ragonetti says she has been doing this for so long that the Christmas season has turned into a business. For 15 years, she sang as a paid soloist in three Catholic church choirs. She says the time to perform overlaps with family time.
“That’s the sacrifice we make as musicians.”