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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

‘The Merry Widow’ challenges perceptions of opera through lighthearted fun 

The+cast+and+the+orchestra+of+Merry+Widow+bow+at+the+end+of+their+performance.+
Gabriel Hill
The cast and the orchestra of ‘Merry Widow’ bow at the end of their performance.

Performed with accompaniment from the Baldwin Wallace Symphony Orchestra, directors and students encouraged audiences new to opera to watch “The Merry Widow,” because of its easy to digest mixture of humor, beauty and opulence.   

As the Conservatory of Music’s spring opera, the show opened on March 22 in the Gamble Auditorium in the Kulas Musical Arts Building and was performed by two casts, the merry cast and the widow cast. 

The show follows Hanna Glawari, a wealthy young widow from the fictional land of Pontevedro. In order to keep their country from financial ruin, the ambassador, Baron Zeta, wants to make sure that Glawari marries someone within the country, such as her ex-lover Count Danilo; however, Glawari claims that she is to marry a French count, Camille, in order to hide the relationship between Baron Zeta’s wife and himself.   

“It’s all about finding love in everyone’s own way, even if that means conquering your own fears,” Anneke Van Slyke, who plays Glawari in the merry cast, said.   

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Scott Skiba, the director of opera studies, said this operetta is “very beautiful and very upbeat.” 

Skiba said he believes that it provides a good contrast between the spring and winter operas, as this show is family friendly.   

“I think people will be surprised at how much they like it,” Katherine Fisfis, who plays Glawari in the widow cast, said. “It’s more digestible because it behaves more like musical theatre… people will like the romance and aesthetic of it, and there’s a satisfying arc of ‘will-they-won’t they.”’  

The concept for the show is the idea of Parisian elegance and charm, Skiba said.  

“It’s like we’re always moving in a waltz.”  

Skiba also said that waltzing will play a large role in the show, with choreography by Heather Dennen, the director of dance at the Community Arts School. There will also be a bit of work with fans, as well as French can-can.   

The BW Symphony Orchestra will play a part in this engagement, as they will be placed in the middle of the stage due to Gamble Auditorium’s lack of an orchestra pit.   

The orchestra fits in with the ballroom setting of the show and adds the layer of the band at the party, Aidan Eddy, who plays Baron Zeta, said.  

“It helps us really feel immersed… they are phenomenal, super magical,” Zeta said.  

Skiba said that this configuration makes the opera feel more like something that the Cleveland Orchestra would put on, which gives the vocal performance majors more experience with something similar that could happen in the professional world.   

“Scott has a great eye for detail and design,” Dean Buck, who is conducting the BW Symphony Orchestra for this performance, said.  

Buck said Skiba knew where to place the actors so they could perform and follow the orchestra.  

“My job is just to do what I think the composer would have wanted… Lehár does an amazing job at presenting very charming and delightful music.”  

Other cast members expressed fondness for the music as well, with Skiba wanting people to feel like the show transported them.  

  “I come on and sing some of the prettiest duets in the opera,” Trey Milcowitz, who plays Camille, said. “I really want people to see this show because it’s just such a lighthearted fun story that has truly beautiful music.”  

Members of the cast also said they think the show challenges what people not familiar with opera may believe.   

“There’s this preconceived notion about opera, that it’s very inaccessible and unrelatable… come see how funny and relatable but also really touching this art form can be,” Eddy said.   

Fisfis said the show proves that opera does not need to be viewed as high art.  

“But art is art, it can all be approachable, people think it’s not relatable, but it very much so is,” Fisfis said.  

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  • M

    Marlen WoodApr 15, 2024 at 7:35 am

    The show was fantastic! My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the production. Mr. Skiba pulled off an excellent production. Mr. Buck conducted beautifully, and the cast was most excellent.

    Thank you to Baldwin Wallace and the Conservatory of Music. We are Blessed yo have fine people doing fine things.

    Reply
  • D

    Debbie BApr 7, 2024 at 5:01 pm

    It was awesome!!! I fully enjoyed every minute of the Opera.

    Reply