Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Sun Valley Opera Can Be a Social Adventure
Susan McKee peruses some of the hors d’oeuvres served up by Vintage Restaurant.
Sunday, March 19, 2023


Robyn Watson alternately grimaced and laughed as she played along with baritone Hadleigh Adams on the stage of The Argyros. As the piece drew to a close, those sitting around tables in the audience roared in applause as Adams presented Watson with a rose and a bottle of champagne for being such a good sport.

Opera is hardly stuffy in Sun Valley.

From noshing on chicken skewers and glorified grilled cheese sandwich quarters catered by Vintage Restaurant to enjoying summer concerts in elegant gardens, Sun Valley Opera performances are a hands-on experience.

Hadleigh Adams has a little fun with Robyn Watson on stage.

“I love the intimacy of the Sun Valley Opera concerts,” said Susan McKee, as she selected an array of artichoke hearts and asparagus spears from a small buffet to put on her plate. “It’s so nice we can have conversations, as well as wonderful internationally known singers in a venue where we can see and engage with them.”

Often, the performers make enough of impression that they are invited back. Such is the case of Ashley Faatoalia, who will perform duets with Soprano Marina Harris on Thursday, March 23, at the Sun Valley Opera House.

And such was the case with Adams, who grew up in New Zealand but came to the United States to sing in a program administered by San Francisco Opera in 2012.

“It’s New Zealand coming to you instead of you going to New Zealand,” the opera’s Board Chair Kyle Johnson told the audience at Adams’ concert a couple weeks ago.

Artist Jan Lassetter is a frequent attendee of Sun Valley Opera concerts.

“What do I want to sing in mid-winter in one of the most beautiful places in the world?” Hadleigh Adams asked the audience. “I don’t want appetizers. I want great big pieces that make us warm. And one of the biggest things I’m thinking about is words. It doesn’t matter how good someone sings if you don’t have great words.”

Changing lights enveloped Adams in magenta and golden streaks as he performed such songs as “Music of the Night,” “Toreador Song” and “That’s Why the Lady is a Tramp.”

“You can just picture the inside of cathedral, can’t you?” he noted.

Kim Cathleen Verde loves Wagner: “Opera is a special art form.”

Jonathan Hannay came from Switzerland to join Ann Leonardo and Sharon Wellstandt. Of course, he came for the skiing, as well as the opera.

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