Opera Las Vegas is set to launch an ambitious 22nd season that will feature four new operas.
It starts this weekend with three performances of “The Ghosts of Gatsby”. Based on real events, the hour-long chamber opera, performed in English, chronicles the marriage of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald as he writes “The Great Gatsby”.
“This is about him trying to finish ‘The Great Gatsby’ on the French Riviera,” said James Sohre, general manager of Opera Las Vegas. “He’s dealing with alcoholism and he’s dealing with his wife, Zelda, who he says has been having an affair.
“So these are very contemporary issues that still resonate with people. “
Soprano Kayla Wilkens plays Zelda Fitzgerald, who appears both as a young woman fascinated by a famous writer and later as a jaded bride in a troubled marriage.
“It is the juxtaposition between hope and excitement and the soul free from new love. And then kind of a disappointment a few years later of what it could be, ”said Wilkens, who also performed with Super Summer Theater.
“It’s really kind of a moment of discovery for her,” Wilkens said of her character. “She’s just finding out who she is.”
Other productions planned for the company include “Approaching Ali”, with performances scheduled for late January.
The opera about a writer linked to his childhood idol Ali is “a story of friendship and a coming-of-age story that anyone can relate to,” Sohre said.
Opera Las Vegas will also present “The House Without the Christmas Tree” during the holidays and later “Strawberry Fields / Trouble in Tahiti”.
These two operas as well as the Ali and Gatsby productions are performed for the first time on the West Coast.
The organization is also cultivating new audiences by promoting opera in schools with its Who’s Afraid of Opera “infoformance”.
“We give some instruction on opera, some examples about it, how easy it is to understand how emotions are expressed through music,” Sohre said.
“Our favorite question was that a little boy asked how do you scream? Said Sohre. “It’s pretty precise, (the opera) sort of screams in a sustained tone.”