'History' could have been made here with performance

Since the audience probably totaled fewer than 100, it's fairly certain that most Carsonites missed an historic event at the Brewery's Performance Hall Saturday night. Well, at least it was probably historic, but no one can tell for sure. But when the Sierra Lyric Opera Studio performed Mendelsohn's "Elijah" oratorio, it was likely the first time ever such a work had been presented in the one-time church. Perhaps Handel's "Messiah" once echoed there, but no one knows.

Matters little, but such a fine collection of classical singers has rarely gathered anywhere in Carson City. These were trained voices, and when Katelyn Pennebaker as the Youth lifted the roof with her dazzling high notes, it was clear this was a night to recall.

There wasn't a weak voice among the 17 who sang, including some familiar to Carson audiences, but some fresh. Caitlin Lawrence Papp as the Widow in Scene Two was stunning in voice and appearance. Richard M. Haines as Elijah was powerful and convincing, as was Adam Machart. Benjamin Pratt carried several sections of the music along strongly. CeCe Gable was a haunting Jezebel, and Kyle G. Rea was a fine Obadiah.

The veterans were there as well, some rarely seem in such a setting. Karen Chandler of Carson High School's faculty stepped out from behind the scenes as a dramatic voice, and Stephanie Arrigotti of the Western Nevada Community College also came out from with a lovely, underplayed aria in the second act. Maria Arrigotti ended a too-long absence from the local scene with a vibrant and defiant aria. I'm sorry that I didn't make enough notes to comment on the entire company, but they know they made a grand night for all.

And Arthur Johnson made the piano sound like an entire orchestra as he led and followed the voices.

Gary Aldrich, Carson City's transplanted New Yorker, conceived and adapted the production, and Karen Chandler, who certainly practices what she preaches at the high school, produced the performance for the Gary Aldrich Studios. The Brewery was associate producer.

So what to make of a night like this (it was repeated Sunday)? It's unlikely that a collection of such fine singers has ever gathered in one place here.

FROM THE VAULTS

They don't make them like "Animal Crackers" anymore, and of course with the Marx Brothers no longer around, it's understandable. But happily, the 1930 B&W film is still available, with all the jokes and gags and harp and piano playing as sparkling as ever. The film is all about the return of elephant hunter Capt. Spaulding and a mysterious theft that matters little. What matters is Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo all behaving as only comics of the 1930 could. The gags are endless, such as these by Groucho:

"One night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I dunno!"

"While shooting elephants in Africa, we found the tusks very difficult to remove. Of course, in Alabama the Tusk-a-loosa. But that's entirely ir-elephant to what I was saying."

Margaret Dumont plays the high-society madam as she did in so many Marx Brothers' films. George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskin wrote the script, but the Marx Brothers made it so much fun. It's unrated, but your 3-year-old could enjoy it.

Book review

James Patterson is one of the most prolific writer of thrillers, and his 2005 "Honeymoon" (Warner Books, $13.95, 294 pages) was the best of the year. He teamed up for this one with Howard Roughan. Here, Nora Sinclair is beautiful, talented and rich. She also has a secret husband and a lover and eventually even an FBI agent who is investigating her and gets more intimate that he should. The writers are right for the times, when long chapters have fallen prey to the TV sound bites that are affecting us all, including newspapers.

The chapters here run from a few hundred words to maybe 2,000, but they are deft and pointed. If thrillers is your game (and it is for millions of readers), this is a book for you.

• Contact reporter Sam Bauman at sbauman@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1236.

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