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President McKinley is a hearty character in opera premiere

By the end of “Shot!,” you will know all about the assassination of President William McKinley. It will be in your head and under your skin.

The ambitious two-act opera, composed by Persis Vehar and being premiered at Shea’s Performing Arts Center by Nickel City Opera, was meticulously researched. The libretto, by Vehar’s daughter, Gabrielle, is clever and works in a tremendous amount of information.

The creative sets vividly bring back a long-gone Buffalo. Generous video footage shows long-dead people milling about the Pan-Am, and the Electric Tower emitting beams. It’s ghostly to see the Milburn House, demolished years ago, reappear in almost a life-sized vision. The scene changes cleverly so first you are outside the house, and then you are inside, with windows looking out over Delaware Avenue in the distant past.

Most vividly of all, the opera impresses on you the hearty character of McKinley.