enculturating las vegas into the next millennium... art, dance, film, music, poetry, theater, history, nature and everything else that enriches the lives of those who live and visit southern nevada... Since 2003...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Opera Las Vegas rocked the Horn...

If there was any doubt that Las Vegas could host world class opera those doubts were laid to rest on Friday night. With Opera Las Vegas' opening of Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" at the Horn Theater one can only be in awe of what the future holds for our city's amazing cultural scene. As I sat back and listened to one of the finest operatic performances that I have personally witnessed in this community, my only regret was why I was not sitting at the Smith Center watching this. But of course I have to keep reminding myself to be patient, for the the Smith Center's construction is not quite done yet.

Las Vegas is no stranger to opera actually. Back in the 1950's the Las Vegas Opera Guild brought opera to the community and was instrumental in the development and construction of the city's first auditorium on the campus of Las Vegas High School. Since then the city has hosted hundreds of operas at venues that have been built around the community. Thanks to the construction in the 1970's of the Aladdin Theater for the Performing Arts, now part of Planet Hollywood, Artemis Ham Concert Hall and the Judy Bailey Theater, both on the campus of UNLV, operas have been performed regularly and to packed houses.

Last nights performance of Tosca has kept the community's operatic tradition going. Featuring guests from the Metropolitan Opera in New York; Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs as Floria Tosca, Raul Melo as Mario Cavaradossi, Daniel Sutin as Baron Scarpia, with Gregory Buchalter conducting, not to mention a total cast of over 50 performers and musicians made for an overwhelming experience.

The opera is set in Rome in 1800, when the city was under siege by the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte and its Neapolitan overlords. Tosca is a story that details how two individuals, in this case Floria Tosca and Mario Cavaradossi, are grasped by unwavering love for each other and how one man, Baron Scarpia will use his power to go to great lengths to destroy their happiness. Like most of Puccini's classic works this story ends in tragedy for all parties involved.

The performance by Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs as Floria Tosca was flawless. Her mastery captured the very essence of what makes opera the summit of artistic expression. There is nothing more powerful than a sopranos voice, especially when the performer channels the very role in which she is supposed to embody. Simply put, Blancke-Biggs not just played the role of Tosca she became her. When you add this perfection with those of Tenor Raul Melo and Baritone Daniel Sutin you are in for the ultimate adrenalin rush. I will admit I left last nights performance on such a natural high that as I write this I am still buzzing from it all.

I congratulate Opera Las Vegas for bringing such a gift to our city. I am looking forward to many more performances of this caliber in the near future.


If you did not get a chance to see Opera Las Vegas'presentation of Tosca there is one more performance happening this weekend. The final performance will take place Sunday, September 11 at 2pm. The performance will be at the Horn Theater on the campus of the College of Southern Nevada.

For more information about Opera Las Vegas please visit their site - http://www.operalasvegasnv.org/

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

posted by Brian Paco Alvarez, Curator and Chronicler of Culture at


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