Story & photos by Victoria Molinar
Over 300 patrons came to support the El Paso Opera this past Sunday, Aug. 24, for their annual fundraiser, Encores & Overtures. Artistic Director David Grabarkewitz said he hoped the event would raise an excess of $50,000, which would help with the operation costs for the entire year of the company.
“I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of the persons of the City of El Paso and this region,” Grabarkewitz said. “It’s unbelievable to see so many people out to support the opera.”
The night was also a sneak peak of the talent for the company’s upcoming show, “Opera Bhutan”. Took place Saturday August 30, the show entailed a fully staged performance of George Frideric Handel’s “Acis and Galatea,” but with the incorporation of Bhutanese dance presented by the Kingdom of Bhutan’s Royal Academy of Performing Arts.
The Bhutanese twist also pays homage to the University of Texas at El Paso’s Bhutanese architecture, which was established several years after the university was founded.
The connection between the Bhutan and UTEP grew deeper when over 30 students, faculty and staff traveled to the Himalayan kingdom with the El Paso Opera last year to rehearse and perform “Acis and Galatea,” which was guided by Italian director Sefano Vizioli and conducted by Australia-born musician Aaron Carpenè.
“This is such a wonderful experience for Bhutanese people, to be a part of the Opera, because this is the first-ever [Western] opera in Bhutan,” Royal Academy of Performing Arts Director Goen Tshering said before he and several members performed at the fundraiser.
Along with members of the Royal Academy and UTEP ‘s Young Artists Program, the four international opera stars who play the principle roles in “Acis and Galatea” performed at the fundraiser. Attendees were in awe as they listened to the voices of Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli, Brian Downen, Jacques-Greg Belobo and Thomas Macleay.
Watch this Saturday’s free performance of Acis and Galatea at the Don Haskins Center on 121 Glory road at 6 p.m. Upcoming El Paso Opera events include November’s New Opera Workshop of “How Green Was My Valley,” “Tosca” and “A Grand Night for Singing.”
Visit epopera.org for more info.