EMAV Review: 'Bravo Bernstein' a fitting tribute to the master ★★★★½

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

★★★★½ - Delicious

A most appreciative audience attended Opera Las Vegas’ delicious 4.5 Star celebration entitled “Bravo Bernstein”, at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center last Sunday afternoon. Revenue generated from the Concert and Champagne Reception with the Artists supports outreach programs like Opera on Wheels (a Mozartian version of "The Three Little Pigs" in all four library theatres in May -- with free admission), Opera With Class (scenes and arias in English in 10-12 Clark County Schools, and main stage productions like Rossini’s "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella, to be presented in UNLV's Judy Bayley Theatre on 8th and 10th of June).

Leonard Bernstein is one of the most iconic and successful composers of the 20th Century, and this was just one of countless events included in the two-year centennial celebration, “Leonard Bernstein at 100,” that started at The John F. Kennedy Center on September 22, 2017 – and officially launched the celebrations which continue worldwide through the end of August 2019!

An American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist, "Lennie" (as he was known to his friends) was among the first conductors born and educated in the US to receive worldwide acclaim!

Leonard Bernstein’s range of accomplishments was uniquely broad; in the new millennium, his legacy resonates more than ever. “Leonard Bernstein at 100” celebrates the career of this monumental artist by focusing on four pillars of Bernstein’s legacy: his work as a Composer; Conductor; Educator; and Activist/Humanitarian.

In addition to the Opera Las Vegas program this past weekend, festive performances and events will take place in other U.S. cities that Bernstein held dear to his heart — New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D. C., Los Angeles, San Francisco — and in additional cities such as Austin, Atlanta, Houston, Tucson, and many others.

Kudos to OLV for sharing their talents and for bringing much of “Lennie’s” music to Las Vegas audiences! Jim Sohre, OLV General Director, produced and emceed the program, guiding the patrons and talented operatic ensemble through beloved hits from West Side Story and On the Town, as well as pieces from Trouble in Tahiti, A Quiet Place and the epic concert Mass -- commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to inaugurate The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. in 1971.

The accomplished singers who performed individually, in duets and all together in several choral numbers were: Marcie Ley (Soprano), Athena Mertes (Soprano), Ashley Stone (mezzo-soprano), William McCullough (Tenor) and Aldo Perrelli (Tenor), accompanied by pianist Spencer Baker.

Bernstein was a man of the globe, and so there will be major events in London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Rome, Budapest, and Warsaw, as well as in Japan, China, India, Brazil, Australia, South Africa and Israel — and the list goes on.

Several documentary films are in the making, covering a broad range of topics in Bernstein’s life. His musicals will receive revivals throughout the world, including a worldwide tour of the acclaimed BB Promotion’s West Side Story; productions of Wonderful Town in Germany and Austria; and performances of Mass in London, Paris, Los Angeles, Glasgow, and Austin. Bernstein’s opera A Quiet Place will be presented in Vienna and Budapest, among other cities.

Exhibitions are planned in multiple cities. The Grammy Museum is preparing a major Leonard Bernstein exhibition — including artifacts from his composing studio (on loan from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music) —which will travel over two years to cities across the United States. Host organizations include The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in New York City, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Additionally, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia will be mounting an exhibition “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music”.

The Leonard Bernstein Collection in the Music Division of the Library of Congress contains close to 400,000 letters, manuscripts, photographs, and more. Currently, about 1,400 items from the collection are available online, but the Library is in the process of digitizing thousands of additional items from the collection — including, for the first time, musical sketches — which will be added to the site and made widely available for researchers and scholars.

The Leonard Bernstein Memory Project is a growing collection of Bernstein-related memories from around the world. Fans and friends of Bernstein are invited to contribute their reminiscences on the newly renovated Centennial website.

A pioneering educator, Bernstein early on saw the potential of television as a means of communicating the joy of music to young people. Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic brought orchestral music directly into the living rooms of families across America and around the world. Several generations were inspired and motivated by the Young People’s Concerts — 53 programs that still set the standard for music education that engages, delights, and entertains.

Bernstein’s lifelong method of using the arts as a springboard for acquiring all kinds of knowledge lives on in the educational reform model Artful Learning. The model, developed by Bernstein’s son Alexander, is being used in scores of schools around the United States. Not only do Artful Learning students acquire knowledge; they retain that knowledge by learning how to think creatively.

Three of the music festivals with which Leonard Bernstein was closely associated — the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Pacific Music Festival — will pay special attention to his contributions during the Centennial period.

Opera Las Vegas is a nonprofit professional opera company serving Nevada through full-scale productions and a variety of innovative outreach programs in local schools and community venues. Established in 1999, OLV has been producing major, high-quality opera performances since 2005. Its mission is to enrich the culture of Nevada by producing high caliber opera theatre both on and off stage, through a mix of innovative educational experiences and performance events for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

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