By JIM McKONE

All music-lovers, especially fans of opera, will be glad to know that classical opera remains alive and well in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Maestro Mazias de Oliveira proved this dramatically by staging “Extravaganza of Love” in McAllen Nov. 21.

This event was officially named “Stravaganza d’amore” in Italian, the language of operas. This music earned thundering applause from several hundred opera-lovers at the McAllen Civic Center.

Any opera-phile who reads this will be sorry they missed it. On the bright side, two complete operas are coming to the Valley. (See below for more details.)

Many arias were sung in several languages, plus Spanish classics by the Mariachi 7 Leguas from McAllen.

“We embrace this culture of many lands,” said de Oliveira, who is from Brazil. In his five years in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, he has brought some of the greatest operas in the world to appear in McAllen.

“We wanted to introduce more lovers of music to listen during the Christmas season,” he added

“These voices are superb. Opera, once heard, will stick with you forever. Operatic voices beat all else, and we hope that they will help help the world crisis be cured,” de Oliveira added.

The pity is that many of the Winter Texans will go home before the next full-fledged opera, La Boheme, comes to McAllen in March. This opera remains the all-time opera heartbreaker, along with its unsurpassed music.

La Boheme will not appear on the McAllen stage until March 27-28. It would be worth staying in the Valley for Winter Texans to see and hear it before traveling back to the Frozen North.

De Oliveira appreciated the professional singers who made this recent event succeed with Pianist Raymundo Trejo Ortiz doing a great job on the grand piano for a dozen-plus arias plus five Christmas classics.

The veteran opera singers performed solos and duets soundly applauded by the audience. The full orchestra will return in the New Year after this fund-raising event.

The singers included, in order of appearance:

Timothy Birt, Edlyn de Oliveira, Diana Alvarado, Creighton Brown, Madeline Elizondo, Hannah Urias, Celeste Torres, Monica Elian Mercado, Richard Switzer, Mazias de Oliveira, and Eduardo Azcoitia.

These talents are all considerable, but this reviewer singles out Edlyn de Oliviera, whose family ties since birth led her every step to be an accomplished opera singer.

The Freddy Gonzalez Elementary School Patriot Choir, directed by Rosalinda Cantu, and long associated with the South Texas Lyric Opera, does an outstanding job for students in the fourth and fifth grades.

Their dedication to the lyric opera should produce older students into opera in a few more years. Mrs. Cantu deserves much credit.

Stay tuned to The Valley Town Crier to learn when Harlingen and Monterrey combine to produce McAllen’s exciting project of bringing a classic to their cities with McAllen’s help. It will be worth seeing.