Guests may not start “kissing everything in sight,” but Opera Las Vegas’ Love Potion No. 9 Gala at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson on February 2 will be an entertaining evening that is a prelude to amore.
The fundraiser not only celebrates this year’s mainstage opera, The Elixir of Love (Gaetano Donizetti’s beloved romantic comedy, L’elisir d’amore) at UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre, which will be the beautiful June finish to the opera season, but is also a heartfelt example of how to keep the music playing all year long.
For those who enjoy fine cuisine and libations, thrilling music, dazzling guest performers, auction steals, decadent sweets, sterling company, glamorous fun and an evening of love, the Love Potion No. 9 Gala is a perfect match.
As Champagne is poured in Green Valley Ranch’s elegant La Sirena Ballroom, partygoers can browse the extensive selection of silent auction items, including a week’s stay at a timeshare on a Greek beach. During dessert, the runway will be cleared for a musical mix of fast-paced pop and operatic delights.
Musician Keith Thompson, the brains behind The Cocktail Cabaret at Caesars Palace and the musical director and conductor for the long-running Jersey Boys in Las Vegas, will bring together some of the Strip’s best entertainers to deliver show stopping solos and ensemble numbers.
“This event is our major annual fundraiser,” said Jim Sohre, general director of Opera Las Vegas. “As a nonprofit, ticket sales are only a small portion of our operating income.”
“Along with the cocktail hour, silent auction and three-course dinner, the music will go back and forth between opera and popular selections. Keith is putting together a high-spirited love potion program,” Sohre said.
The Opera Las Vegas Youth Chorus will provide a special medley. Gala guests will also be treated to three rising stars from the Opera Las Vegas roster. Soprano Athena Mertes has starred in Opera on Wheels shows such as Pinocchio and The Three Little Pigs. Soprano Rebecca Morris has charmed audiences in The Pirates of Penzance. Bass-baritone Richard L. Hodges enlivened last season’s Opera Legends in Black and plans a reprise of his Season Reveal show-stealing rendition of “Love Potion No. 9.”
The evening’s special guest will be Metropolitan Opera tenor Gregory Schmidt, who features a ringing Italianate sound to conquer the high tessitura of the Bel Cantorepertoire. He is well-known for his thrilling, high-flying performance as Don Ramiro in the recent Opera Las Vegas staging of Rossini’s La Cenerentola(Cinderella). He has also graced many regional stages.
Midway through the evening, the company’s first “Excellence in the Arts” award will be bestowed upon Jerry Nadal, a senior executive for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. Nadal has served numerous arts organizations and projects throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
“This is going to be a really fun evening,” Sohre said. “Most importantly, it will raise funds so that we can fulfill our program for the season, which runs from September to June. In addition to the 30 productions we put on every year encompassing about 100 artists, we also tour the middle and grade school system in Las Vegas.“
The gala also supports Opera Las Vegas’ Opera on Wheels outreach programming with free and low-cost programs in a variety of community venues and Opera With Class educational performances in Clark County schools.