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Opera Las Vegas Kicks Off Season With Homage To The Jazz Age

Opera Las Vegas cast members rehearse "Ghosts of Gatsby."
Opera Las Vegas

Opera Las Vegas cast members rehearse "Ghosts of Gatsby."

Opera Las Vegas is set to start an ambitious 22nd season that will include four new operas.

It begins this weekend with three performances of “The Ghosts of Gatsby.” Based on true events, the hourlong chamber opera, performed in English, chronicles the marriage of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald as he writes “The Great Gatsby” in the 1920s.

“This is about him trying to finish ‘The Great Gatsby’ on the French Riviera,” said James Sohre, general director for Opera Las Vegas. “He's dealing with alcoholism, and he's dealing with his wife, Zelda, who he thinks has had an affair.

“So these are very contemporary problems that still resonate with people.”

Soprano Kayla Wilkens portrays Zelda Fitzgerald, who appears both as a young woman enthralled with a famous writer and later as a jaded spouse in a troubled marriage.

“It's the juxtaposition between the hope and the excitement and the free soul of new love. And then sort of the disappointment a few years later of what that could be,” said Wilkens, who has also performed with Super Summer Theater.

"It's really a kind of a moment of discovery for her," Wilkens said of her character. "She's finding out a little bit about who she is."

Among the other productions scheduled for the company is “Approaching Ali,” with performances scheduled in late January.

The opera about a writer connecting with his childhood idol Ali is “a friendship story and a coming of age story that everybody can relate to,” said Sohre.

Opera Las Vegas will also be staging “The House Without a Christmas Tree” over the holidays and later “Strawberry Fields/Trouble in Tahiti.” 

Those two operas along with the Ali and Gatsby productions are being performed for the first time on the West Coast. 

The organization also cultivates new audiences by promoting opera in schools with its Who’s Afraid of Opera “infoformances.”

“We give some instruction about opera, some examples about it, how it's easy to understand how emotions are expressed through music,” Sohre said.

“Our favorite question was one little boy asked how do you do that yelling?” Sohre said. “He's quite accurate, (opera) is sort of yelling on a sustained pitch.”

James Sohre, general director, Opera Las Vegas; Kayla Wilkens, soprano, "Ghosts of Gatsby"

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Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.