Leadville’s Tabor Opera House Could Have New Owner
“Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side,
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,
It’s you, it’s you must go and I must bide.”
“O Danny Boy” might have been the final song performed by FEAST Irish Band at the historic Tabor Opera House on August 23, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the “fat lady sings” for the old Dame on historic Harrison Avenue. In fact, it could mean a whole new beginning.
The final performance for the 2014 season certainly provided the toe-tappin, hand-clappin opportunity usually featured by this Celtic band. But the program was also poised with ceremony, as local officials took the opportunity to honor owners Sharon and Bill Bland’s dedication to the theater, demonstrated during the 59 years of their family’s ownership. Leadville Mayor Jaime Stuever not only presented The Blands with a key to the city, but also awarded one (posthumously) to Sharon’s mother and long-time owner/caretaker of the opera house, Mrs. Evelyn Furman.
Also making note of the momentous occasion was Lake County Commissioner Mike Bordogna who proclaimed the evening, “ Tabor Opera House Night.”
The main act did not disappoint, performing to a packed house, including many who enjoyed the show from balcony seats. Halfway through the bittersweet last performance, came a ray of hope concerning the venue’s future. The Blands introduced Paul Noel Fiorino, a registered agent with the Colorado Arts Consortium, a non-profit organization with a successful track record of saving theaters around Colorado.
And while nothing has been signed, or as they say in the opera world, “it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings,” Fiorino’s proposal and plan to save the 135-year-old opera house, “is the best ,” according to current owner Sharon Bland.
“I’ve been talking to them for quite a while – five years,” said Fiorino in an interview with Leadville Today. “And I guess, it finally got to the point where they said, ‘yeah, this is our last year.’”
In fact, it was in May at a pre-season dinner for volunteers that Bill Bland announced that the 2014 season would be their last one. Of course, the venue has been on the market for a while, and recently gained national attention when it was featured on the popular TV show “American Pickers.”
But at this point, the Blands have stated that Fiorino’s proposal is on the top of the heap. So what is that plan?
While the asking price for the Tabor Opera House is $1 million, the acquisition and renovation budget that Fiorino presents looks more like $5 million. And it should be noted, the grant that Fiorino has put together, tops out at $10 million, allowing for an endowment component to the model, building in some sustainability during the transition.
There’s no doubt that Fiorino has a passion for theater, after all, he’s a performer himself. A (former) professional ballet dancer, he began his career with Colorado Ballet. In fact in the 1970s, he performed at the Tabor Opera House and, more recently, with Denver-based Ballet Ariel this past May.
But Fiorino’s dedication goes far beyond the stage. The most recent feather in Fiorino’s cap is the Denver Civic Theatre, a theater complex south of downtown Denver, that was on the verge of closing, caught up in financial debt and bank repossession. Through his contacts with Colorado art-lovers, Fiorino was able to bring in an Evergreen businessman with the capitol to restore the venue into a cozy two-theater complex and thriving cultural hub for the area.
“I have a heart for old theaters, a relationship with them,” states Fiorino, adding that he plans to restore the Tabor Opera House to its former glory.
“It’s a theater, but it’s also a museum that represents the performers of the past.” Fiorino adds. “We have a great opportunity to bring performers of the future — an opportunity to bring in top acts to Leadville.”
So where do things go from here? Fiorino will be returning to Leadville in two weeks to outline the details and has been working with the Leadville/Lake County Economic Development Corporation to connect with the local community.
“We are trying to get the Leadville folks to have the first charter contribution opportunity,” explained Fiorino. “We really feel like this is the town’s theater and that it needs to have a buy in from the community.” He wasn’t sure if that would be the opportunity to buy a plaque for a legacy wall, or maybe sponsor one of the theater’s ornate seats.
However, in the bigger picture, the local outreach is considered somewhat of a token start. From there, it will then expand to include the state of Colorado, and if need be, said Fiorino, bringing in his connections at the national level.
“I want Leadville folks to have the first opportunity. I want this NOT to be a real estate deal,” concluded Fiorino. “This is just a continuation of a theater that is being passed on with a renovation project. It is an awareness project of our great heritage, a preservation of our culture and museums.”
Beatles Tribute Band To Play The Scarlet Saturday
Not your everyday Beatles tribute band, Doctor Robert marks a new generation of tribute bands, bringing a thoroughly modern sound and feel to the Fab Four’s classics. The band is quickly becoming respected for its extended, high-energy sets including everything from “Please Please Me” to “Abbey Road,” and because no two shows are ever the same.
Dressed in mod-Beatles circa 1964, Doctor Robert relishes the challenge of recreating even the most demanding musical compositions in a live setting, often improvising during the performance. Like the quintessential Beatles tribute band, The Fab Faux, Doctor Robert does not attempt to impersonate the Beatles. For Ben Wright, Karen Janssen, Casey Falter, and Kevin Reinert, it’s all about the music and the infectious energy created when Beatles fans come together.
- WHAT: Doctor Robert,The Beatles Tribute
- WHEN: Saturday, September 6th @ 9:30pm
- WHERE: The Scarlet Tavern, Leadville
- This is a FREE 21+ show
Check out this video of the Doctor Robert, Beatles Tribute Band