The Onyx Theatre, tucked in the back of The Rack, an East Sahara sex shop, seems an unlikely place for a classical opera production, but it’s actually the perfect setting for Sin City Opera’s An Incomplete Education, which debuted there, June 14 and runs through Saturday.
The SCO is an elite group of classically trained and highly talented singers, but there’s not an ounce of operatic snobbery in this avant-garde troupe, which seeks to introduce the rest of us to the wonders of the opera. While some conventional operagoers might be put off by the whips and chains for sale in the shop where the tickets are purchased, The Onyx comes complete with its own large population of potential opera lovers.
Fittingly, An Incomplete Education is a Romantic (with a capital R—it was written by
French composer and pianist, Emmanuel Chambrier, and first performed in Paris, in 1879) comedy about sex. A pair of highly educated newlyweds—having no formal sex education—bumble and blush their way through their wedding night.
Although a four-poster bed sits center stage, there’s nothing tawdry about thisp roduction. Adapted by SCO Director Skip Galla and Musical Director Karalyn Clark, the story is cute and engaging; the stage direction smart; the music wonderful; and Marisa Johnson (also of Bally’s Tony and Tina’s Wedding) is adorable as Gertrude, the young bride. When she’s not giggling, fretting or pouting, she’s singing magic. David Casey, a vocal student at UNLV, is well-cast as Gertrude’s naïve husband, Henry, but—being newer to the stage—neither his performance, nor his voice, measure up to Johnson’s. Jonathan Napier-Morales, who plays the third character in the show, Henry’s tutor and Gertrude’s father—it’s a little complicated, but not really (sort of like sex) —is an impressive baritone, and a funny enough drunk, to boot.
Simple mathematics—which young Henry does have a handle on—played another factor in SCO’s venue choice. There just aren’t many affordable stages for a young company to perform on in Las Vegas. The Onyx is centrally located, and the intimacy of the 100-seat theatre lends to the experience.