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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

The Marriage of Figaro

Mar 13-15, 2020

The Marriage of Figaro

An opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Full price: $15-$46

When a lecherous count sets his sights on his servant Figaro's fiancée, Figaro and his friends seek retribution in the form of hilarious hijink...

Béatrice et Bénédict

Apr 23-26, 2020

Béatrice et Bénédict

An opera by Hector Berlioz
Full price: $20-$31

Marriage isn't for everyone, least of all verbal sparring partners Beatrice and Benedict. But if they can be convinced to set aside their differences,...

CU New Opera Workshop

Jun 12-14, 2020

CU New Opera Workshop

Free concert

By the time an opera production hits the floorboards, composers and performers have spent years transforming theatrical ideas and music for the stage....