Opera Las Vegas partnered with the Mario Basner Gallery to present a festive and song-filled Season Reveal party on August 16th in Tivoli Village.
Seventy-plus revelers helped the company (now in its nineteenth season) to celebrate the diverse line-up of operas, concerts and events that are planned for the 2018-2019 line-up. General Director Jim Sohre hosted the festivities, narrated the scheduled selections, and provided piano accompaniment. Four of OLV’s top singers were on hand to bring the crowd to excited anticipation of the year’s offerings.
Having partaken of a convivial stop at the wine bar, and sampled a myriad of goodies at the snack buffet, spectators settled in for some top-flight entertainment as they eagerly learned what was soon to be in store for opera enthusiasts.
Tenor Marco Varela led off the show in fedora and cape, with a full-throated rendition of Granada, in anticipation of Latin Fiesta, scheduled at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center, on Sunday, 14 October in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Soprano Athena Mertes and mezzo-soprano Rebecca Morris intertwined their voices in enchanting harmony as they previewed Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera Hansel and Gretel, planned at the Windmill Library Theatre on 1 and 2 December in a fully staged production. The final thrilling phrase of this work’s finale led the Reveal program into the announcement of the annual fund-raising gala at Green Valley Ranch’s La Sirena ballroom on Saturday, February 2nd 2019.
This year’s heady theme is Love Potion No. 9, and the animated Bass-baritone Richard L. Hodges got attendees laughing mightily with his version of that famous pop song, seguing into a soaring rendition of the Bocelli-Brightman love duet, Time to Say Goodbye, vocalized by Ms. Mertes and Mr. Varela.
Opera Legends in Black will help celebrate Black History Month on Sunday, 24 February 2019. The annual event will offer tributes to world-famous African-America stars and composers, and Mr. Hodges’ teased us with a hint of the celebrated singer Simon Estes with an effusive rendition of The Toreador Song.
The vociferous ovation for this popular aria had barely died away when OLV’s popular school Informance program was explained by Mr. Sohre. The annual tour to Clark County Schools brings a combination of “information and performance” to 2,700 students, many of whom are hearing live operatic singing for the first time. To demonstrate the structure and emotional expression of a famous aria, Ms. Morris gave a musically powerful, dramatically searing account of Voi la sapete, o mamma from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry). The schools will be visited for two weeks in March 2019.
One of the year’s scheduled events decidedly generated the most buzz: an exclusive gala concert in the famous Underground House on Saturday, 23 March 2019. Only 120 guests will be able to experience this 6,000 square foot mid-century house, 26 feet below the surface of Las Vegas and enjoy snacks, libations and scenes from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, as previewed by the four Reveal singers who sang a breathless, tongue-twisting version of the work’s famous Can-Can.
Each season features a tour of library theatres with a family friendly, forty-minute operetta based on memorable opera music re-purposed to tell a well-known story. This coming spring, since Jack and the Beanstalk will take the stage, the quartet of performers filled the Basner Gallery with some of the score’s tuneful Arthur Sullivan melodies while comically costumed in beanies, babushkas, and braids.
Arguably the biggest step forward for the company is the inclusion of a 21st Century opera on the schedule. In collaboration with Cockroach Theatre, OLB will present six performances of Ricky Ian Gordon’s acclaimed work, 27, for six performances, 26 April to 6 May 2019 in Arts Square Theatre.
Referring to the street address “27 Rue de Fleurus,” 27 tells the story of ex-pats Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas as they preside over their famous salon of artists in Paris during the span of two World Wars. Rebecca (Gertrude) and Athena (Alice) dazzled and engaged the evening’s attendees with the work’s bewitching first duet, The Bells Ring – The Genius Is In.
As is customary, the Opera Las Vegas season ends with a Main Stage production, which will be Gaetano Donizetti’s most popular opera, L’Elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love), showing at UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre on 7 and 9 June 2019.
Marco Varela gave spectators much to look forward to with his affecting version of the thrice-familiar aria popularized by Pavarotti: Una furtive lagrima (A Furtive Tear). But Donizetti’s charming comedy is anything but melancholy as Richard L. Hodges reminded us with a jaunty lead-in to the work’s finale.
As the four singers united in harmony one final time to present Elixir’s final sparkling pages, surrounded by Mario Basner’s ravishing artwork, and enveloped in the audience’s infectious high spirits, Opera Las Vegas ultimately celebrated in style a new season that invites celebration.
As they departed happily into the night, those in attendance were given a personal, hot-off-the-press copy of the lavish season brochure. Off to such a great start, Opera Las Vegas aspires to live up to its motto: Celebrating Life’s Grandest Stories Onstage!