Opera Las Vegas recently closed out its successful run of Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg with a surprise ending: A fifty thousand dollar gift.
Scalia/Ginsburg is a serio-comic chamber opera about the unlikely friendship between two philosophically opposed Supreme Court Justices, Antonin Scalia and the “notorious” Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who were drawn together by their mutual love of opera. It was performed in the site-specific location of the Thomas and Mack Moot Court in UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.
As the SRO audience was exiting the facility after the final matinee, General Director Jim Sohre was at the door, thanking people for having attended, when he was approached by a diminutive lady with a question: “Are you in charge?” Sohre identified himself and said, “Yes, I am.”
Whereupon the woman opened her purse, extracted a checkbook, tore out a check she had already written, and handed it to him. He glanced at it, saw “50” and started to say thank you, when he looked again, and saw it was for fifty “thousand” dollars. As he tried to adequately stammer an awestruck “thank you,” and “I am speechless,” the benevolent patron smiled coyly and kept walking into the afternoon sun and was gone.
The name on the check identified the donor as Miriam Shearing, who surely felt resonance with the afternoon’s opera that had featured an iconic female jurist as a starring character. “Justice” Miriam Shearing was not only the first female Chief Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court, but also the first woman elected as a Justice of the Peace for Clark County, the first woman elected as a judge for the District Court in Nevada and the first woman to sit on the Nevada Supreme Court.
She became known for her fairness and was elected to the bench three times during the 27 years she spent on the bench. Shearing was also known for her concentration on equal access to justice in the state of Nevada. A summary of her career and accomplishments is available in an article by Mary Berkheiser titled “Justice Miriam Shearing: Nevada’s Trailblazing Minimalist,” featured in the Fall 2005 edition of the Nevada Law Journal.
Even after the passage of some weeks, Sohre is still somewhat at a loss for words. “This has been such a challenging time for the performing arts. Justice Shearing’s incredibly generous gift will do wonders to ensure that our 22nd Anniversary season brings diverse and high-quality operatic programming to the benefit of fellow citizens throughout the greater Valley area. We are humbled by her confidence in our company, and can never thank her enough for this vital support.”
OLV is poised to begin the season with the West Coast premiere of Evan Mack and Joshua McGuire’s The Ghosts of Gatsby 1-3 October, at The Space.