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Casual, Come As You Are
On the eve of Veteran's Day holiday weekend, Opera Las Vegas will sing the praises of all those who serve, with a varied 60-minute program ranging from light hearted Broadway fare (I'm in Love With a Soldier Boy, Over There, The Army's Made a Man Out of Me); and operetta (Modern Major General, Stouthearted Men); to selections from operatic "soldiers" in Carmen, Aida, and The Elixir of Love. The Youth Chorus will chime in with Faust's famous Soldier Chorus. The grand finale from The Chocolate Soldier, will sum up the the presiding sentiment of the concert: Hero Mine. Please join us at Winchester Dondero Cultural Center, 9 November 2023, at 7:00 pm. Free admission.
This Performance Is Made Possible by the Generous Support of
Bob and Shirley Kramer
Opera Las Vegas is deeply grateful for their ongoing dedication and friendship.
Athena Mertes is one of the Valley’s most celebrated sopranos, whose opera and concert credits include Despina (Cosi Fan Tutte), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Lucy (The Telephone), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Gianetta (L'Elisir d'Amore), Morgana (Alcina), Musetta (La Bohème), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Abigail (The Crucible), Nella (Gianni Schicchi) and soprano soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria, Handel’s Messiah and Honegger’s King David. She has performed as a guest soloist with the Burbank Philharmonic, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Henderson Symphony, Opera Las Vegas, Vegas City Opera and Lexington Opera Outreach. She is also the director of the OLV Youth Chorus. Athena was Alice B. Toklas in OLV’s West Coast premieres of Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek’s 27, portrayed Lilly in Sasha Matson's Cooperstown, and Zelda in Evan Mack and Joshua Snyder’s The Ghosts of Gatsby.
Ashley Stone received her Doctorate of Music in Vocal Performance from Indiana University where she studied with Costanza Cuccaro. During her time at IU, she taught studio and class voice as well as performing in Falstaff (Mistress Quickly), Candide (Old Lady), Suor Angelica (Principessa), Mark Adamo's Little Women (Meg). She received her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music. While in Rochester, NY, she was in Eastman Opera Theater's Suor Angelica (Principesa) and was soloist with the Voices Choral Ensemble, the Gregory Kunde Choral, and the Eastman Chorale. Ms. Stone has appeared with Opera Las Vegas in Voices Raised for Vets, Holiday on Broadway, Bravo Bernstein!, and The House Without a Christmas Tree.
Tenor Christopher Bozeka is quickly becoming recognized for his “expressively captivating” performances, as well as his “beautiful, piercing tone” (San Francisco Chronicle). In 2021, Mr. Bozeka made his Opera Outdoors Houston debut as the tenor soloist in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, was scheduled to make his Sarasota Opera debut as Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles (COVID19), returned to Houston Grand Opera for holiday concerts, and rejoined Opera Las Vegas as Ernesto in Don Pasquale. He also made his Sarasota Opera debut as Bertrando in L’inganno felice and Florville in Il Signor Bruschino, both by Rossini. During the summer of 2021, Mr. Bozeka will return to Wolf Trap Opera to sing Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, Satyavan in Holst’s Savtiri, and Le Prince Charmant in Viardot’s Cendrillon. During the 2021-22 season, Mr. Bozeka will join the roster of the Metropolitan Opera covering Triquet in Eugene Onegin and Pit Singer – Tenor 1 and 2 in Dean’s Hamlet, perform as the tenor soloist in the world premiere of Two Streams with the Houston Chamber Choir and Kinetic Orchestra, sing the role of Dorville in Rossini’s La scala di seta at Sarasota Opera, reprise the role of Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Delaware/Baltimore Concert Opera, joins Opera Southwest for their NYE gala and in the fall of 2022, he will make his debut with Livermore Valley Opera as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and in 2023, he returns to Houston Grand Opera, singing Fourth Jew in Salome.
In the 2019-20 season, Mr. Bozeka performed with Houston Grand Opera as Don Gaspar in La favorite and the Messenger in Aida, sang Nadir in the American Premiere of Bottesini’s Ali Baba with Opera Southwest, and appeared in a virtual broadcast as a soloist in Bach repertoire with Ars Lyrica Houston. In the summer of 2020, he returned to Wolf Trap Opera where he appeared in a virtual broadcast as Tom Rakewell in scenes from Igor Stravinsky’s A Rake’s Progress.
In the 2018-19 season, Mr. Bozeka debuted with Wolf Trap Opera as Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and with Opera Las Vegas as Nemorino and sang as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with New Albany Symphony Orchestra. His 2017-18 engagements included Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd with Atlanta Opera, Evandro in Giovanni Simone Mayr's Medea in Corinto with Teatro Nuovo, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with Opera Project Columbus, and soloist in Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with Kinetic Ensemble. In the 2016-17 season, Mr. Bozeka returned to Houston Grand Opera as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. He also debuted with Opera Columbus as Pedrillo, Albany Symphony Orchestra as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and Musical Bridges Around the World San Antonio as a soloist in a Mozart Opera Gala.
During his association with the prestigious Houston Grand Opera Studio, Mr. Bozeka performed in Tosca as Spoletta, Carlisle Floyd’s new opera Prince of Players as Male Emilia, Le nozze di Figaro as Don Curzio, and The Little Prince as the Drunkard/Lamplight. He also performed Rinuccio with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program in their production of Gianni Schicchi for which Opera News praised his “handsome, open-throated rendering of Rinuccio's aria”, and joined Castleton Festival’s production of Madame Butterfly as Pinkerton.
Mr. Bozeka is a previous first prize winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions in Ohio and Houston, and a second-place winner in Houston’s Eleanor McCollum Competition. He received his master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music where he appeared as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, and the Narrator in Owen Wingrave.
Christophe Kennedy (Bass-Baritone) received his Masters of Arts at the Cleveland Institute of Music under Dr. Dean Southern. Prior to, he completed his undergraduate’s degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas under Dr. Alfonse Anderson. He began his career in the arts at Legacy high school where he performed roles such as Roat (Wait Until Dark), Snoopy (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) and the Cowardly Lion (The Wizard of Oz). At UNLV, he added various roles such as Figaro (Le nozze), Colline (La Boheme), Bottom (Midsummer’s), King Claudius (Hamlet), and Leporello (Don Giovanni). While at CIM he was casted as The Chamberlain (Le Rossignol), L’Ombre (L’Enfant et les sortilege), Thésée (Hippolyte e Ariciee), and The Father (The Juniper Tree). Currently he’s performing the role of Jonathan in Donte Miller’s The Rocking Chair and will soon star in Opera Las Vegas’s The Bremen Town Musicians as General Boom.
Norman Espinoza, a Bass originally from San José California, has performed internationally and with numerous opera companies in California. He is a graduate from San José State University where he obtained both his M.M. and B.M. in Vocal Performance.
Recognized for his powerful low notes, he has sung for the Berlin Opera Academy, Montefeltro Music Festival in Italy, Opera San José, Livermore Valley Opera, Lyric Opera Orange County, Vegas City Opera and Opera Santa Barbara.
Roles include: Colline, Alidoro, Mustafà, Reverend Hale, Il Commendatore, Sparafucile, Leporello, Bartolo, Seneca and Sarastro to name a few.
For the 2021-2022 season Norman was Chrisman Studio Artist with Opera Santa Barbara and won 3rd place for the 2021 Classical Singer Competition’s Classical Young Artist/Emerging Professional category.
“Tremendous voice! Love the color, especially in the lower part of his voice. Very good possibilities!!” - CS Music
Norman now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife and works closely with Opera Las Vegas. He also is a Gondolier Singer for The Venetian Resort and he would love take you on a ride on his gondola in Las Venice!
David Kancsár began his piano studies shortly after his third birthday. He then went on to work with many world-class pianists, finally completing a degree in Classical Piano with Daniel Pollack at USC’s Thornton School of Music. After this, Mr. Kancsár stepped into the musical theater world. This included work on productions such as Chicago, Mamma Mia!, Phantom of the Opera, The Second City, Le Reve, Monty Python’s Spamalot, and Jersey Boys, among others.
He was assistant conductor of the Paris Las Vegas production of Mel Brooks’ The Producers, as well as pianist/music director of the musical comedy revues Forever Plaid and Plaid Tidings. Recordings include the 15th anniversary cast album of Forever Plaid, and Celine Dion’s music video for her hit song, Ashes.
David is part of the music staff at Community Lutheran Church Las Vegas, a worship community with membership numbering in the thousands.
When not preoccupied with musical endeavors, he enjoys tinkering with his vintage cars and motorcycle, loving his dog and cats, getting out into nature, and even occasionally scuba diving.