By:  Hal de Becker



Yes, summer temperatures are heating up, but exceptional springtime performances by local organizations created their own heat wave.   


One of the most prolific sources was University of Nevada Las Vegas in conjunction with the Performing Arts Center (PAC), a division of UNLV’s College of Fine Arts (CFA). 


Dance, opera, music and drama were represented in outstanding performances that ranged from symphonic concerts to full scale dance and opera productions.     


UNLV’s faculty of gifted dancers, musicians, conductors and choreographers includes, to mention just three, Nancy Usher CFA’s Dean; Louis Kavouras dance department chair; and Beth Mehocic composer in residence. 


The University’s superb symphony rivals many well-known professional orchestras.  It performed a concert of works by Liszt, Brahms and modern innovators Bartok and Stravinsky.    


The music department boasts an outstanding choral group that offered a program of lilting songs from operettas by Strauss, Lehar and other ‘Waltz Kings’ aptly titled Vienna Waltz.


There was nothing warmed over about UNLV’s two sparkling and unique productions at Judy Bayley Theatre: Mozart’s Don Giovanni and the dance department’s stunning In Composition.


In Composition was a collection of six dances each one skillfully choreographed by a faculty member.  Original music, performed live, provided most of the accompaniment.


The dances and the dancing were artistically fulfilling in every way and reflected the professionalism the department has become known for.  


 ‘The Don’ was sung in the original Italian by members of UNLV’s Opera Theater.  The symphony played brilliantly under the direction of Maestro Wes Kenny.   


The daring production, directed by David Ward, was set in the Hollywood of today and ‘The Don’ was re-named Harvey Weinstein.  ‘A lecher by any other name smells’ period.


In another twist the drama department presented Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar performed by an all-female cast.  It was interesting, well-acted, and performed in the always intriguing Black Box Theater.       


Sin City Opera’s voice was also heard and enjoyed in two different performances.  One, a program of arias that had been used in Hollywood movies, and an updated 1950’s version of Leoncavallo’s Il Pagliacci.  


Nevada Ballet Theatre did more than just spring, it soared with two glittering events at The Smith Center. 


Lew Christensen’s Beauty and the Beast was, together with touching choreography and excellent dancing, visually exquisite due to richly colored sets and costumes, and artistic lighting.  


Two Balanchine ballets graced the immensely successful four part Ballet & Broadway program.  Before the curtain rose NBT’s new and most welcome Artistic Director Roy Kaiser introduced himself to the audience with charm and humor.   


According to some sources spring ends June 21st, so Las Vegas Ballet Company’s (LVBC) Giselle on the 22nd might be allowed to squeeze in.  It’s the full length ballet and features Yoomi Lee in the title role.


Outstanding productions are presented every season of the year by NBT, the varied artistic departments of UNLV, Sin City Opera, LVBC and numerous other local organizations.    


Scheduling information and more are available on line.  Don’t miss out.