When General Director Jim Sohre greeted the audience for the premiere of Donizetti's comic opera, Don Pasquale on 11 and 12 June, and welcomed them to "our first live performances in sixteen months," it was met with unbridled enthusiasm and applause.
Opera-hungry fans were ready to be entertained and a starry quartet of solo singers, an animated five-person "chorus," and orchestra of ten of the Valley's finest instrumentalists decidedly delivered the goods. For OLV's first production in The Historic Fifth Street School auditorium, director Audrey Chait filled the compact stage with a story that she cleverly re-set in modern-day Sin City.
After all, Don Pasquale (Adelmo Guidarelli) is a libidinous, wealthy old bachelor, using his money for self-aggrandizing gain, and looking for love in all the wrong places.The object of his attention is the sassy and foxy young casino worker, Norina (Adelaide Boedecker), who conspires with the duplicitous, golf-playing Doctor Malatesta (Robert Mellon), to embarrass the Don, and wind up with her true love, the hot-headed, glib hipster, Ernesto (Christopher Bozeka.
Adding to the mix, Chase Gutierrez was a delightfully dotty Notary who is complicit in a sham "wedding," and the rest of the chorus worked hard under the direction of Joseph Svendsen: Giada Barney, Tyler Urbano, Nathan Sink, and Michael TK Lam.
Don Pasquale also marked the first appearance led by Joshua Horsch as OLV's newly appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor, and his first live show since the onset of the pandemic. The polished orchestra included a Dream Team of Las Vegas favorites including Concertmaster Dee Ann Letourneau, Rebecca Sabine (Violin), Hanna Suk (Viola), Moonlight Tran (Cello), Geoff Neuman (Bass), Tina Castellanos (Flute), Jay Savoy (Clarinet), Ashley Sheridan (Bassoon), Chris Castellanos (French Horn), and Tom Wright (Trumpet).
Whitney Meltz's compact, evocative set design was well-paired with Abby Stroot's witty costumes. OLV veteran Bonita Bunt served as Stage Manager.
If the hearty laughter, generous applause, and sustained cheering that greeted each curtain call are any measure, live professional opera has come bounding back to a lively affirmation.