Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - December 30, 2011

Livermore Valley Opera celebrates 20th anniversary

Festivities to include dinner, performances by divas and divos

Livermore Valley Opera will host its grandest celebration ever in honor of its 20th anniversary season with an evening of dinner, and a one-of-a kind performance by leading divas and divos of favorite arias. The event will be held at 5 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28, at Ruby Hill Golf Club.

"This exclusive event promises to be a unique experience, especially for those who take the opportunity to dine with a diva or divo at special celebrity tables," said Elizabeth Wells, Livermore Valley Opera's executive director. "One of the celebrity tables is already sold out."

The nonprofit Livermore Valley Opera was founded in 1992, and presents fully staged operas in the spring and fall at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore. The opera company combines the talents of professional musicians, stage directors, principal singers and designers with the dedication and practical abilities of volunteers filling such critical roles as board members, chorus, stage crew and set builders.

The celebration Jan. 28 will begin with champagne and a concert of music performed by three leading divas singing arias from the world's most well-known operas. Special guest artists are mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao, soprano Marie Plette, and coloratura soprano Erie Mills.

Cao is a regular guest of leading companies here and abroad including the San Francisco Opera. Plette is a Metropolitan Opera artist acclaimed in the major international opera houses for her portrayals of Cio-Cio San in "Madama Butterfly" and the Countess in "Le noze di Figaro." Mills is an internationally recognized Metropolitan Opera artist and Livermore Valley Opera Advisory Council member.

Divos will include baritone Eugene Brancoveanu, the lead in the opera company's "Don Giovanni," and tenor David Gustafson, who will sing the lead in the March production of "Tosca."

All five performers will be part of the Dine with a Diva or Dine with a Divo option.

After the concert, guests will enjoy a three-course dinner and Livermore wines in the elegant Ruby Hill Ballroom. The evening culminates with a brief live auction hosted by KKIQ's Faith Alpher featuring valuable luxury items such as a private airplane tour around the Bay and a one-week condominium stay in Santa Fe with tickets to the Santa Fe Opera.

"We have a wonderful evening planned," Wells said. "Ruby Hill has been great to work with in planning the event, and thanks to our 'Donor Divas' Susan DuPree, Pamela Philbert and Henrietta Fankhauser, we can offer our guests an elegant evening."

Tickets and unique dining experiences

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