Scalia/Ginsburg – An Opera By Derrick Wang
Venerable Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have left this earthly plane, but in the otherworldly realm of Opera Las Vegas, the notorious RBG will live on in perpetuity with her best buddy Nino. “We are different. We are one.” So sing two unlikely friends, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. Yes, that’s right, they “sing.”
Delightful surprises and affectionate remembrances will abound as Opera Las Vegas eagerly anticipates next July’s West Coast premiere of composer-librettist (and legal scholar) Derrick Wang’s opera, Scalia/Ginsburg for four performances only, 8, 9, 10, 11 July 2021 in the Thomas & Mack Moot Court of UNLV’s Boyd School of Law. The production promises to be a loving valentine, and a memorable tribute to two giant American icons.
With the 70-minute Scalia/Ginsburg Wang triumphantly ushered in the era of Supreme Court-themed art. A comedy about friendship in a divided world, inspired by the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and Scalia, Scalia/Ginsburg was first heard at the Supreme Court of the United States before its world premiere production at renowned conductor Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival. Revised after the passing of Justice Scalia, Scalia/Ginsburg received a sold-out production in 2017 at The Glimmerglass Festival.
Kicking off 2020 with a sold-out run at Opera Naples, Scalia/Ginsburg was scheduled to be performed across the United States throughout this election year and beyond, including this unique run at Opera Las Vegas. The spirited philosophical disagreements of the two famed jurists are cleverly counterbalanced by their mutual abiding passion for opera.
Opera Las Vegas will welcome back three favorite singers to bring the melodious debating and bantering to life. Mezzo-soprano Mary Beth Nelson will return to the role of the notorious RBG, having already scored a resounding success in the part at the prestigious Glimmerglass Festival, with RBG in attendance. Ms. Nelson is well remembered by our local patrons for her thrilling title role debut in OLV’s 2018 production of Cinderella.
OLV General Director Jim Sohre saw that Glimmerglass performance. Justice Ginsburg attended her namesake opera, as well as three other productions that weekend. Sohre said: “At each performance, the house lights would dim and the Secret Service would discreetly escort in a diminutive visitor. Of course, she was recognized each time, and the audience spontaneously erupted into applause and cheers, some standing to honor her. At a Q&A after the performance, the final question was: ‘Is there an operatic moment that embodies how you felt being nominated to the Supreme Court.’ RBG answered ‘The moment in La Traviata when Violetta cries ‘O gioia’ (Oh, joy).”
As her opinionated sparring partner Scalia (or Nino, as Ruth calls him), Aldo Perrelli will bring his Italian-American heritage and his sizable tenor to bear in an imposing characterization of a formidable personality. Mr. Perrelli is popular with OLV audiences thanks to his assured solo contributions to such diverse programs as Bravo, Bernstein!, One Amazing Evening, and Our Three Tenors, among others.
LA-based baritone Gabriel Manro completes the cast as the Commentator, a glib and manipulating narrator who tests the two protagonists by pitting them against one another. Mr. Manro, who will return to Las Vegas direct from an assignment at LA Opera, previously scored a success here as the mysterious, frolicsome Alidoro in OLV’s Cinderella.
Valley Theatre Award winning actor, Marcus Weiss puts on his stage director’s hat for this production, and is considering some unique staging moments for this site-specific courtroom venue. Derrick Wang’s endlessly surprising script and operetta-inspired musical pastiche of a score will provide plenty of theatrical inspiration for Mr. Weiss.
Conductor Tim Warren will lead a septet of players through their paces in a specially devised instrumentation by the composer. Mr. Warren kicked off OLV’s Twentieth Anniversary Season in September 2019, conducting the West Coast premiere of Sasha Matson’s Cooperstown, A Jazz Opera in Nine Innings.
There will be a limited number of tickets available to Scalia/Ginsburg, a one of a kind operatic experience inside the Thomas and Mack Moot Court of UNLV’s Boyd School of Law, a one of a kind operatic experience. It’s not too soon to plan ahead. Mark your calendars and to make sure you are notified of the starting date of ticket sales, please sign up for the Opera Las Vegas emailing list, either by visiting www.operalasvegas.com
And if you or your organization are interested in sponsoring a performance and enjoying an attractive benefits package, for details, please email: Director@operalasvegas.com