Opera Las Vegas presenting ‘Don Giovanni’

It may be the greatest opera ever composed ­- at least according to such experts as Giacomo Rossini, Charles Gounod and Richard Wagner.

All three composers cite Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” as a crowning achievement in the realm of opera.

Opera Las Vegas will present the Mozart masterpiece tonight and Sunday afternoon in Artemus Ham Concert Hall at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Set in 17th-century Spain, “Don Giovanni” spins a tale of seduction, betrayal, intrigue and murder, revolving around the young, arrogant, sexually promiscuous title nobleman, whose life of selfish excess turns out to have serious, and seriously ominous, consequences.

Despite the 17th-century setting, however, Opera Las Vegas’ “Don Giovanni” features modern dress and minimal sets – along with English-language supertitles.

Metropolitan Opera baritone Jeff Mattsey sings “Don Giovanni’s” title role.

He’s joined by four other Met singers: bass Philip Horst as Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant; sopranos Luana DeVol as Donna Elvira and Amy Shoremount-Obra as Donna Anna, Don Giovanni’s past conquest and current target, respectively; and tenor Mark Thomsen as Don Ottavio, Donna Anna’s fiance.

The Metropolitan Opera connection extends to conductor Gregory Buchalter, Opera Las Vegas’ artistic director, who’s also chorus master and cover conductor at the Met; and stage director Jonathon Loy.

“Never before have we had five singers and a director and a conductor from the Met,” according to Opera Las Vegas president Caroline Orzes .

“Last September, we practically had to beg the Met singers to come to Las Vegas,” she notes.

But, after the success of Opera Las Vegas’ “Tosca” last fall, however, the troupe’s New York auditions drew hundreds of prospective singers, she adds.

“That’s not to say we don’t have wonderful opera singers here,” Orzes adds – including Las Vegans DeVol and Thomsen.

“But it’s not an easy opera to sing; you can’t just throw people into it,” she points out. This weekend’s Met cast members all have previous “Don Giovanni” productions to their credit, Orzes adds.

In addition to the Met performers, members of Opera Las Vegas’ Young Artists program, which helps college-age singers hone their performance skills, will perform supporting roles in “Don Giovanni,” Orzes says.

“Working with the Met singers in our productions is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she notes.

Following “Don Giovanni,” Opera Las Vegas will be “going into fundraising mode” for its next production, which Orzes says will probably be next year.

“We’re a small opera company,” she explains, “and (staging) opera is very expensive.”

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

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