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Commentary

Renée Tatum [Photo by Kristin Hoebermann]
13 May 2014

Barbiere Comes to Sin City

Professional opera returns to the Las Vegas Valley June 6th and 8th with performances of one of the best-known comic operas of all time, Gioachino Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

Barbiere Comes to Sin City

Above: Renée Tatum [Photo by Kristin Hoebermann]

 

Soloists include Daniel Elijah Sutin, Peter Strummer, Philip Cokorinos, Renee Tatum, and Victor Ryan Robertson. Conducting the performance is Met Maestro Gregory Buchalter, who also serves as Artistic Director for Opera Las Vegas.

Barber has certainly stood the test of time, as attested to by the impending 200th anniversary of its premiere. For opera aficiandos, as well as those who have never experienced opera, The Barber of Seville is the perfect choice for a delightful evening’s entertainment. "We are so pleased to bring Barber and professional opera to the Las Vegas community," states Opera Las Vegas General Director Luana DeVol. DeVol, an internationally renowned soprano. "Through the vision and contacts of Maestro Buchalter of the Met, we have the unique opportunity to secure the most promising singers. As the public decides to try opera, we believe the extraordinary quality of our main productions will build an enthusiastic fan base for opera here at home."

Count Almaviva is played by American tenor Victor Ryan Robertson, whose versatile singing ability and style allow him to cross between genres from classical and contemporary classical repertoire to pop and Broadway. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer newspaper noted Robertson's "voice is fresh, his personality alive." He recently debuted at the Royal Albert Hall in London as Rodolfo in Francesca Zambello's production of La Boheme, to wide acclaim. Robertson has portrayed Almaviva with the Minnesota Opera, Opera Carolina and Arizona Opera.

Baritone Daniel Elijah Sutin will be making his role debut as the titular barber. This season at the Metropolitan Opera Sutin sang the leading role of Wozzeck with great success. In 2013 he performed Giorgio Germont in LaTraviata with the Savonlinna Opera Festival and the title role of Rigoletto in Hong Kong. Future engagements include his return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago and a debut with the Hawaii Opera as Sharpless in Madame Butterfly. A native of Albany, New York, Sutin holds undergraduate and advanced degrees in Voice at the Julliard School.

The role of the comically garrulous Dr. Bartolo will be assumed by one of America's foremost character bass-baritones, Peter Strummer. He has been acclaimed for "giving a role maximum impact" by the Toronto Star and for his "warm, firm and agile voice" by Opera News. The Denver Post recently wrote: "Strummer is one of the most meticulous performers." He has played Bartolo previously, but is an artist who constantly reworks his roles and expands the breadth of his repertoire through appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington Opera, Dallas Opera, New York City Opera, Opera de Montreal, Canadian Opera Company, as well as working 15 years in German and Austrian houses.

A member of the Metropolitan Opera roster for more than 27 years, bass-baritone Philip Cokorinos takes on the role of Don Basilio. He has appeared upon numerous occasions in Met productions of Tosca, La Boheme, The Nose, The Gambler, Die Meistersinger, Don Carlo, Macbeth, Manon, and played Basilio previously at the Met. Cokorinos has been praised for his singing, acting and a combination of the two. In addition to the Met, he has performed with Opera Santa Barbara, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and with the Chautauqua Opera.

California native Renee Tatum was described as having a "commanding and dramatic presence" by Opera News Magazine. Mezzo-soprano Tatum returned to the Metropolitan Opera for the 2013-2014 season for productions of The Magic Flute conducted by Jane Glover, Rusalka, led by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, and Die Frau ohne Schatten with Vladimir Jurowski. She has performed with the Houston Grand Opera, the Orange County Philharmonic Society , Chicago Opera Theatre, Santa Fe Opera, among others. Ms. Tatum has won numerous awards and competitions, including the regional finals in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Renee Tatum will be making her role debut as Rosina.

Maestro Gregory Buchalter of the Met serves as Artistic Director of Opera Las Vegas , Opera Fairbanks and Opera Camerata of Washington. During his tenure with these companies, he has brought in many internationally renowned singers, including Paul Plishka, Sondra Radvanovsky, and Richard Bernstein. He was the first American to conduct with the Kazakhstan State Opera. Buchalter conducted Salome at Finland’s Savonlinna Opera Festival and has been Chorus Master with the Santa Fe Opera, Bregenz Festival (Austria) and Theater des Westens (Berlin). He is currently a cover conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, where the position of Maestro di Banda was created for him. He served as Met Chorus Master for several productions, including the telecast of Franco Zeffirelli's Don Giovanni and Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. Buchalter has prepared several world premiers at the Met: John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles, Philip Glass' The Voyage, and John Harbison's The Great Gatsby.

Local artists performing in the Opera Las Vegas production include Stephanie Weiss, currently pursuing her doctoral degree from UNLV and who enjoyed a long association with the Deutsche Oper Berlin where she appeared in roles such as Frasquita in Carmen, Musetta in La Boheme, and Overseer in Elektra. At the Staatsoper Berlin she sang the First Lady in Mozart's Magic Flute, and Musetta at the Oper Frankfurt.

Dr. Henry Price (Pepperdine University) will direct Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Before turning to teaching and directing, Henry Price was a much sought after tenor, himself an acclaimed Almaviva, having appeared in many notable stagings, including the “Live from Lincoln Center” telecast of Barber with Beverly Sills.

Lighting Designer is Ginny Adams, KA technical support professional. She is an in-demand Vegas technician, and has served as lighting designer for many local theater groups and shows. The set originates with the Utah Festival Opera, with costumes provided by Toronto-based Malabar Limited.

The performance will be sung in Italian with English Supertitles. Tickets are $95, $75 and $55, available through the UNLV Box Office, 702-895-2787.

INFORMATION ABOUT OPERA LAS VEGAS:

Opera Las Vegas is a non-profit organization established 15 years ago with the mission to promote interest in operatic music and to produce related productions. Its objective is to serve the community and region by providing high-level operatic performances.

Prior to Barber, Opera Las Vegas hosted two private events featuring opera legends Denyce Graves and Julia Migenes earlier this year. Following Barber, Opera Las Vegas' next main-stage production will be the family/children's opera, "Meanwhile, Back at Cinderella's," slated for the first weekend in December at Ham Hall on the UNLV campus.

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