Opera star Denyce Graves was the special guest during the gala to kick off the 2014 season for Opera Las Vegas. The party, themed “Divas in Diamonds After Dark,” took place in the Anthem Country Club home of Bruce and Barbara Lee Woollen.
Master of ceremonies James Sohre greeted guests before the evening began with soprano Luana DeVol and Eric Castro singing “Wunderbar” from “Kiss Me Kate.”
Adding interest during the serving of cocktails, the group was divided in two to tour the estate’s rooms and its artworks that corresponded with a particular opera.
The grand tour began with Nathan Van Arsdale, Trey Richards and Jonathan Mancheni singing “Beautiful Girls” from “Follies.” Guests viewed the balcony and grand staircase as Isabella Ivy sang selections from “Manon.” Van Arsdale, Richards and Mancheni sang “I Talk to the Trees” from “Paint Your Wagon” in the home’s foyer where a tree and waterfall are the focal point.
A room displaying an elaborate collection of dollhouses featured Marisa Johnson singing the “Doll Aria” from “The Tales of Hoffmann” and Kathleen McVicker singing “Long Ago There Lived” from “Cinderella.” The gaming room offered “Habenera” from “Carmen” sung by Ivy. “Barcarolle” from “The Tales of Hoffmann” was sung by all the young artists in the great room and pool area.
Guests in the formal dining room were entertained by Van Arsdale, Richards and Mancheni singing “As Jewels Divine” from “The Tales of Hoffmann” and the popular “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
Opera Las Vegas President Stephen Silberkraus introduced Graves in the home’s theater. Among the songs the mezzo-soprano performed were Camille Saint-Saens’ “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix” (“My Heart Opens to Your Voice”) from “Samson and Delilah,” George and Ira Gershwin’s “The Man I Love,” and Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “I Wish I Were in Love Again.”
Following the program, guests including Diane Merkey, Karen and Will Loshbaugh, Will Faber, Beth Richard, Barbara Drake, Christine Lefkowitz-Jensen, Douglas Kazanjian, Barbara and Randy Doesah, Betty Miller, Carmen and Paul Shortino, Barbara Simon, Sondra Lynch, Spencer Baker, Sandra Frank, Joyce Kessler, and Anita and Chris Murray joined opera singers in the den singing “The Night They Invented Champagne” from “Gigi.”
Graves and her husband, Robert Avery Montgomery, met guests and Opera Las Vegas board members in the home’s bar area. Among them were Alvida Lane, Brent Barlow, John Krieger, Gloria Allen, Joan Berry, Sarah Carrol, Joan Dimmitt, Nancy Dailey, Maha Madanat, Josh Weaver, Wynn Schottelkorb and Maestro Gregory Buchalter of the Metropolitan Opera, who serves as Opera Las Vegas artistic director. The evening concluded with entertainment by pianist Danny Wright.