Author: Jill Kimball

Eklund Opera’s 2017-18 season opens in Parisian style

This fall’s production of “The Merry Widow” is out to prove just how enjoyable opera can be.

Think opera is just a bunch of bad actors standing around warbling depressing lyrics in a foreign language for four hours? Think again.

In Eklund Opera Program Director Leigh Holman’s opinion, “park and bark”—the staging technique, or lack thereof, described above—should be illegal on every opera stage.

“If you have never been to an opera and are afraid you’ll just see people frozen still shouting at you, rest assured, you’ll see none of that here,” Holman says.

With this fall’s production of “The Merry Widow,” a whimsical Parisian romp written by Franz Lehár in 1905, Holman is out to prove just how enjoyable opera can be. Yes, it’s sung in a foreign language. But it’s also full of hummable melodies, can-can skirts, flirting and fun.

“You’ll see beautiful gowns and beautiful people, and you’ll laugh,” Holman says.”The music is tuneful—so tuneful you might even want to sing along.”

“The Merry Widow” takes place at a gala reception in Paris, where an ambassador plans to save his poverty-stricken kingdom by sending one of his noblemen to court a fabulously wealthy woman. Like any romantic comedy worth its salt, it’s a masterpiece of mix-ups, meet-cutes and, ultimately, marriage.

Holman says Eklund Opera’s setting stays true to the original with sets inspired by Maxim’s, a famous Art Nouveau nightclub frequented by titans of the art world at the turn of the century, including Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec and Lehár himself.

“There will be all these beautiful details and pops of red, just like at Maxim’s,” Holman says.

While the lively, light-hearted opera is a perfect introduction to the genre for newcomers, Holman says it’s equally enjoyable for die-hards.

“Viennese operetta buffs are similar to Gilbert and Sullivan buffs—they know the piece, the music and the humor,” Holman says. “They keep coming back to enjoy this piece over and over again, as true enthusiasts do.”


Upcoming Eklund Opera events View all events

Eugene Onegin

Mar 15-17, 2019

Eugene Onegin

An opera by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Starting at $15

In 19th-century rural Russia, romance and tragedy unfold in the fates of two sisters. While Tatiana spends her time reading novels, Olga is courted by...

The Turn of the Screw

Apr 25-28, 2019

The Turn of the Screw

An opera by Benjamin Britten
Starting at $20

Benjamin Britten’s 20th-century English chamber opera—replete with both tonality and dissonance—is something of a horror story, base...

CU New Opera Workshop

Jun 15, 2019

CU New Opera Workshop

Composer Fellows' Initiative
Free and open to the public

Join us for the world premieres of four brand-new opera works by CU composition students, presented in the experimental and intimate ATLAS Black Box T...