Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Opera Ensemble will present a fully-staged performance of Franz Lehar’s romantic comedy The Merry Widow on Thursday, March 18, and Friday, March 19, at 8 p.m. in Hodgson Concert Hall at the UGA Performing Arts Center. General admission tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for UGA students.
The UGA production features a large cast with 10 leading roles and a chorus ensemble of 15, all of whom will share the stage with a small chamber orchestra, conducted by Gary DiPasquasio. The opera’s multiple dance scenes are choreographed by Denise Posnak, a visiting lecturer in the UGA department of dance.
“It’s a fairly elaborate production for us at this point,” said Frederick Burchinal, Wyatt and Margaret Anderson Professor of Voice in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music and the director of the performance. The opera will be presented in English, in a translation by Sheldon Harnick, composer of more than a dozen Broadway musicals.
The Merry Widow is the story of a fictional country whose financial fortunes rest on the romantic whims of a recently widowed character cavorting with potential suitors in Paris. Multiple story lines intersect around the romance between Hanna Glawari, the title role played by UGA master’s student and opera regular Monica Murphy, and Danilo, the male lead played by Asher Payne, who will be making his UGA opera debut. Other featured performers include Joseph Brent, also making his opera debut as the lover Camille; Kellie McHugh as Valencienne; and Benjamin Dawkins as Baron Zeta.
Though officially an opera, The Merry Widow has the lightness of an operetta while playing like a musical, according to Burchinal. Among its dialogue and dance scenes, the opera features several arias that are familiar to the public and which have featured performances over the years by the some of the most-renowned singers in opera including Beverly Sills, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, and Joan Sutherland.
“It’s one of the great soprano vehicles, because it’s a pure diva role,” Burchinal said. “You get to be the diva playing the diva, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Tickets are available through the Performing Arts Center box office at www.uga.edu/pac or 706/542-4400.