Wednesday, July 7, 2010

‘MIZ Saigon’ will ring through hills

Sun Valley Opera to present summer performance July 11

Express Staff Writer

Shawna Masuda, who has performed in “Miss Saigon,” will bring her talents to the Sun Valley Opera at the Sun Valley Pavilion. Photo by

As part of its goal to make opera accessible to Sun Valley, the Sun Valley Opera company will present its largest production yet—"MIZ Saigon." Featuring songs from "Miss Saigon" and "Les Miserables," the performance will be held at the Sun Valley Pavilion on Sunday, July 11, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $76, $49 and $28, available at

Tenor Dennis McNeil will return to the pavilion stage to sing with fellow tenor Isaac Hurtado, soprano Ani Maldjian, vocalist Shawna Masuda and baritone Jason Detwiler. Music Director Brett Strader has orchestrated the show, which will include a 25-piece orchestra and a chorus with more than 60 singers.

Maldjian is a guest artist at the Seattle Opera and played the title role in the California world premier of "Anne Frank." Hurtado, the matinee idol tenor, will join baritone Jason Detwiler in a scene from "Madame Butterfly" by Puccini, the story on which "Miss Saigon" is based.

"I can't wait to come back," McNeil said. "This is ambitious, and I think the end product will be fantastic."

McNeil performed with the Three Tenors last year and was a guide in creating "MIZ Saigon" for the Sun Valley Opera.

"It is an interesting way of looking at the music of 'Miss Saigon,'"McNeil said. "The show was inspired by one photograph of a woman trying to hand off her baby onto a helicopter. It is the Vietnam version of 'Madame Butterfly.'"

McNeil said he is looking forward to performing with new people and working with a full orchestra.

"I know it will be lush and beautiful because that's Strader's style," McNeil said.

Sun Valley Opera President Frank Meyer said he could never have believed 10 years ago that the opera would have the pavilion for a performance.

"We will have the most famous aria in the world, 'Un bel di' ringing through our beautiful hills," Meyer said. "No matter what your tastes may be, Puccini music will never go away."

He said the combination of shows will include the best songs from all of them.

"It will be fun," Meyer said. "There's a story, drama and costumes. The music will be wonderful, and it will be fun to see these characters."

A Miz Saigon Diva Party benefit will take place Saturday, July 10, from 6-8 p.m. at a private residence in Sun Valley. Artists from the "MIZ Saigon" concert will appear at the Diva Party and sing songs that will not be sung at the performance. For details call 726-0991.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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