The ‘Finer’ Arts Reflect an Age of ‘Love, Passion, Betrayal’

In Christine on The Scene by Christine McKellar

Nevada Opera Theatre Highlights the Genre’s Drama

Eileen Hayes has been a staunch supporter and promoter of opera in Las Vegas for nearly thirty years. An accomplished musician and soprano who was aware of her musical vocation at the age of four, Hayes has worked tirelessly as the Artistic famous conductorDirector of Nevada Opera Theatre Association (NOTA) since its foundation in 1986.  In 1991 she was joined by Frank Fetta, Principal Conductor.

Over the past 23 years, the two have collaborated on more than 60 opera productions and special musical events.  Fetta is also Music Director and Conductor of the Marina del Ray Summer Symphony, The Culver City Symphony, and the San Bernardino Symphony.

soprano GeorgeThis creative team is behind the opera company’s upcoming post Valentine’s Day concert on February 16, 2014, at 2:00 p.m., at the Rando Recital Hall at UNLV. Entitled “Love, Passion, Betrayal”, the concert will feature artist, Eduardo Villa, a frequent guest tenor at the Metropolitan Opera; and Demetra George, a two-time Grammy List Nominee with stage, television and recording credits, who has graced many NOTA productions.

“So many opera productions have the theme of love, the theme of passion, the theme of betrayal,” said Hayes in a recent interview. “These are at the core of our very existence. We seek love. Love is passionate in the heat of the moment, and then you have betrayal. Look at the track record of divorce in the United States. It’s at about 52 percent. You have deception, lies, the falling apart of the relationship. All three themes have ties into the opera world.”

Among the musical selections for “Love, Passion, Betrayal” are classic pieces fromfamous tenor Villa Aida, La Traviata, La Boheme, Rigoletto, Turandot, and Carmen; as well the Merry Widow and Broadway favorite, Phantom of the Opera. Although Hayes calls a lot upon local talent such as the three women scheduled to perform who are also working on their doctorates at UNLV, she first selected artists she knew could do the entire spectrum of love and betrayal.

“Demetra George is a seasoned performer and two-time Grammy nominee. She’s done a lot of concert and diplomatic performances. Eduardo Villa has performed for over 50 opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera. He’s coming here after a performance in Seattle, then taking the Red Eye after the concert to fly to Miami for a performance.”

Hayes is pleased with ticket sales to the concert so far. “We have a nice turn out especially for the VIP section. There are just a few tickets left. It seems that over the past decade the whole fabric of the arts has changed in a negative way. There was the national and international recession for example.

“Most of our patrons are of an older generation: 50 to 85. Now we sponsor an Opera Outreach to students called Wonderland Escapades to encourage them to learn about opera. It’s an anti-bullying operetta. We introduce them to opera and tell them what to do if they are approached or are a witness to bullying.”

Hayes believes there are other factors as to why general interest in the appreciation and support of  Fine Arts has dropped dramatically in Las Vegas. “We have become more of a fractured community. People live in walled communities that stretch from Boulder City to Summerlin. We can’t get the on-air public service announcements we used to. There are four times the nonprofits here as compared to 30 years ago.”

Contemporary artists such as the rock group The Who with “Tommy,” and Meat Loaf with “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights,” have tackled opera in the past and based the content on what was current and familiar to their fans. Classic operas are generally rendered in the language in which they were composed. “I think that was what was intended by the composers at the time,” explained Hayes. “We honor that. It takes you back to the time period. It’s an old art form and with the phrasing and everything it’s actually easier to sing (arias) in the original languages than in English.”

The “Love, Passion, Betrayal” concert begins at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, February 16. A VIP “Meet the Stars” Champagne reception will precede the concert from 1:15 p.m. – 1:45p.m., in the lobby of the Rando Recital Hall at UNLV. Ticket prices are $75 for the reception and the performance; $40 for General Admission; and $25 for seniors, students, military, veterans and the physically challenged. To purchase the $75 reception/concert tickets, call NOTA at: 702-762-4110. All other tickets can be purchased by calling the UNLV Performing Arts Center Box Office at 702-895-2787 (ARTS), or online at

For further information, call:  702-731-3370.