By: Hal de Becker



On October 15th at 7:00 pm, Opera Las Vegas makes its debut at The Smith Center’s Jazz Cabaret with a program entitled ‘A Passion for Puccini.’ The 80 minute production will be devoted to scenes and arias from the composer’s greatest operas.


Under the direction of the company’s General Director, Luana Devol, eight of OLV’s accomplished young artists will perform in staged and costumed selections from the ever-popular ‘La Boheme,’ ‘Tosca’ and ‘Madame Butterfly.



Excerpts from less frequently performed Puccini operas including ‘Manon Lescaut,’ ‘Turandot,’ ‘Il Tricicco,’ ‘Girl of the Golden West’ and ‘La Rondine’ will also highlight the presentation. Piano accompaniment will be provided by Spencer Baker. 


‘A Passion for Puccini’ is an event opera and music lovers won’t want to miss.  Ticket information is available from TSC’s box office at 702-749-2000 or on line at TheSmithCenter.com. 


Winchester Cultural Center recently hosted seven musician-singers known as the Fanna-Fi-Allah Sufi Qawwali Ensemble.  The group not only drew a standing ovation, it inspired many in the audience to clap and dance to its captivating sounds.  


This was the group’s 13th annual American tour and their first appearance in Las Vegas.  Their tours have taken them to Europe, Asia, Canada and Australia in addition to the U.S.A. and Indian sub-continent where they frequently perform in sacred Sufi shrines,. 


The singing of all the artists’ was impressive, especially that of the troupe’s founder and lead singer-player, Tahir Faridi Qawwali.  He became interested in Eastern music while living in the Himalayas and later studied with famed Sufi masters in India and Pakistan.  He was also influenced by the music of the Beatles. 


His vocal range, power and shading were not unlike those of a trained opera singer.  His passion and expressivity encompassed Sufi’s dramatic, joyous and devotional elements.       


The music and singing, with its sustained melodic lines and rhythms, often had a mystic quality.  At times, the singers seemed to be having a dialogue with each other as well as inwardly with themselves.  Their hands and fingers frequently made delightful patterns in the air that mirrored the musical figures.   


Their instruments included harmoniums, tempura, handclapping, and tabla drums.  The drum artist was Aminah Chishty who was the first woman tabla player ever to perform in Sufi shrines.


In Sufi culture, music and dance are reputed to lead to a higher state of consciousness.  At Winchester Center the audience enjoyment, at least, was raised to a high level by the Fanna-Fi-Allah Sufi Qawwali Ensemble.

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