Until last fall, the closest I’d come to classical opera was the gondoliers at the Venetian. Then I attended “A Passion for Puccini,” a simple recital of songs from Puccini’s work produced by Opera Las Vegas. Halfway through an aria I’d never heard before, from an opera I was unfamiliar with, I found myself weeping. I didn’t know the music; I didn’t know the story; I didn’t know the lyrics—and it didn’t matter. I was still incredibly moved.
The aria was “Un bel di,” the opera was Madama Butterfly, and Opera Las Vegas will present a fully staged production of it this weekend at the Judy Bayley Theatre on the UNLV campus. This time around the aria will be showcased with a complete live orchestra, and sung by soprano Inna Los from New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Los’ Butterfly sacrifices everything for the unfaithful Lt. Pinkerton, who will be played by the tenor Viktor Antipenko, also of the Metropolitan Opera. There will be Las Vegas performers as well: mezzo-soprano Stephanie Weiss of the voice faculty of UNLV’s Music Department is Butterfly’s maid, Suzuki, and Brian James Myer, a UNLV music graduate, is Prince Yamadori.
But the real star will be the production. Opera is meant for full productions, where all the elements of performance come together for a transportive effect. And thinking about that aria surrounded and supported by all this talent is thrilling.
Madama Butterfly June 12, 7:30 p.m.; June 14, 2 p.m.; $55-$95. UNLV's Judy Bayley Theater, 702-895-2787.