'The Elixir of Love' to usher in new Livermore Valley Opera season | September 16, 2022 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - September 16, 2022

'The Elixir of Love' to usher in new Livermore Valley Opera season

Group also performing Puccini classic 'Tosca' in March

by Nicole Gonzales

Audiences of the Livermore Valley Opera will be able to experience classic, dramatized Italian vocal performances in the company's upcoming fall and spring productions.

LVO recently announced its 2022-23 series of performances to be hosted at the Bankhead Theater in downtown Livermore. The professional opera group, the only one of its kind in the Tri-Valley, said the 31st season will include two fully staged operas starting next month.

"Opera has something for everyone: singing, acting, dance, sets, costumes, lighting and great storytelling," Erie Mills said. "We hopefully bring beauty and joy into people's lives,"

Mills has acted as artistic director of the Livermore-based organization for the past seven years, and dedicated an entire career to opera singing, teaching and coaching.

LVO -- a nonprofit founded in 1992 -- performs two feature operas per season. "We want to give our audiences something familiar and something they perhaps haven't seen," Mills said. "Both of these operas are considered standard repertoire however they show great contrast."

The first show of the season -- Gaetano Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love". A charming comedy as Mills calls it, the opera was first performed by singers in 1832. The artistic director revealed it is one that has never before been performed at the Bankhead Theater.

Stage-directed by Robert Herriot, a returning member of the Livermore Valley Opera, live shows will be from Oct. 1-9.

"We want people to know how stories can be told through music," Mills explained. "People have been expressing themselves through song for centuries, and we hope it will continue."

Following the season's first major production, the company is primed to perform Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" from March 4-12.

"'Tosca' is a dramatic tragedy (premiered in 1900) filled with love, jealousy, betrayal, torture and murder," Mills said. "'Tosca' was performed 10 years ago in the Bankhead Theater, and we decided it was time for its return."

Both feature productions will be accompanied by full orchestral performances conducted by Alex Katsman. Performances are sung in Italian and displayed with English subtitles for audience members.

Season 31 for the opera group is poised to host additional special features and events during its run. Members involve themselves with "The Italian Affair", the fundraiser of the season, and student outreach programs.

The opera group hosts youth and community outreach programs where performers talk with students about opera, enriching them with the arts.

"Students need to know about opera as an art form. We tell the stories through music," Mills said. "Everyone can sing, and everyone loves to sing."

Mills was recently honored as 2022 Distinguished Artist of the American Prize. Reflecting on the milestones, Mills said it felt thrilling to receive a recognition that was awarded for a career of sustained artistic excellence.

"I feel very blessed that I can continue to work in this wonderful field, and I want the people in the Tri-Valley to love opera as much as I do," Mills said.

"Our audiences have come to expect beautiful singing and orchestral playing, thoughtful stage direction and good acting, with lovely sets and costumes. I think the 2022-23 season will be no exception," Mills said. "We strive to produce the best opera performances we can."

Tickets and more information can be found on the Bankhead Theater website, livermorearts.org.


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