How does an opera company stand out when they don’t have the budget to produce big extravagances? Looking to the future.
Opera Las Vegas forges its artistic identity at the cutting edge of creation. In a genre often stereotyped as an antique dealer, OLV produces new works. He started a Living Composers and Librettists Initiative and received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
For the first production of its 2021-2021 season, OLV presents the first West Coast of Gatsby’s ghosts—Which won a 2019 National Opera Association award — at Space. The plot chronicles the efforts of Jazz Age author F. Scott Fitzgerald to write his masterpiece, Gatsby the magnificent, in the midst of a cloud of jealousy, alcoholism and obsession.
Entrenched on the French Riviera, Scott is distracted by the alleged infidelities of his wife Zelda. In a fever drunken dream, he sees three versions of his wife, each at a different age. Sopranos Kayla Wilkens, Athena Mertes and Kimberly Gratland James play the Zeldas. Arizona Opera Artist-in-Residence Rob McGinness plays Fitzgerald.
The tight 60-minute show begins with an entertaining 15-minute vaudevillian prologue, in which the performers sing jazzy tunes of love won and lost. “You think it’s generalized, but it’s actually very specific, because they use the words F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda actually said or wrote,” said James Sohre, general manager of Opera Las Vegas.
The show features a buffet of Nevada talent, including contributions from the Las Vegas Philharmonic, the UNLV Opera Department, and Opera on Tap. Daz Weller, executive artistic director of Vegas Theater Company, directs. “We’re trying to make it a real community coalition, like, ‘Hey, the arts are back on stage in Las Vegas.’ Says Sohre.
As for music lovers who might be intimidated by the word “opera”, Sohre wants everyone to know that “this is very accessible music”. Unlike the “jarring” tones of some contemporary classical music, Sohre says Gatsby offers “tunes that could be part of a musical review from the 1920s. And the opera itself is very melodious.
One of the best and most unique aspects of opera, says Sohre, is that multiple characters can express different emotions through the song at the same time. “It can’t happen in any other art form,” says Sohre. “But these are sustained and deeply felt emotions that overlap. … We have chords and harmonies [that] are very beautiful and dramatic and interesting to hear. You not only have the solo moments that are in the room, but also these great dialogues. “
The opera is sung in English, but to promote full understanding there are also English subtitles. Opera Las Vegas wants its audience to feel welcome.
“There is nothing [viewers] must bring, except their curiosity, ”says Sohre. “We have always surprised people that this could be something really relevant and really easy to understand.
Gatsby’s ghosts is just the start of a music season aware. Future shows include The house without a Christmas tree (November 19-21), Ali’s approach (January 21-23), Strawberry fields / Trouble in Tahiti (April 22-24) and Tosca (June 10-12). Visit operalasvegas.com for details of the show.
The ghosts by Gatsby From October 1 to 3, Friday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 3 p.m. $ 25 to $ 45. Space, 702-263-6604.