International intrigue. Infidelity. Ill fated intentions. Is it the latest espionage thriller? Not even close! It’s the opening performance of the Franz Lehar operetta, “The Merry Widow.”
For more than a century, this bawdy, irreverent satire has been entertaining audiences worldwide. Spoken and sung in English, the story unfolds in the fictional kingdom of Petrovenia.
We meet several beautiful ladies with reputations that are not necessarily spotless. The gentlemen are also surprisingly varied in their romantic behavior. The once scandalous “can-can” is performed with enthusiasm by the lovely “grisettes.” The dance is also performed tongue-in-cheek by several of the men. Kudos to choreographers Wendy Chu and Christian-Philippe Consigny.
Stage director Linda Lehr’s actors display wonderfully exaggerated words and gestures with hilarious results. Ever present Producer Francine Garber-Cohen takes an active role in the success of the entire event from start to finish. Gregory Ortega returns to lead one of the finest orchestras in the region. In addition to outstanding proficiency, the musicians enjoy an unmistakable camaraderie that enhances the overall presentation.
Beautiful soprano Christina Rohm played the title role at Saturday’s performance. Her swagger and smile are perfect complements to her powerful voice. Stunning Valencienne is played by Sarah Moulton Faux. Her stage presence and excellent musical interpretations are a true delight.
The Baron Zeta played by baritone John Schenkel is hilarious as the kingdom’s financial conscience and Valencienne’s jealous husband. Count Danilo (Peter Hakjoon Kim) and Count De Rosillon (David Bailey) musically vie for the ladies’ hearts with polished voices and irresistible charisma. Supporting royalty, diplomats and servants (Daniel Kerr, Jon Thomas Olson, Andrew Tse, Thomas Geib, Kevin Miller, Jennie Mescon and Noelle Currie) showcase their humor and talent as the operetta progresses.
Attractive costumes (Julia Cornely), sets (Tyler Learned) and everyone behind the scenes have created another high quality production. It is clear that a night at the opera is an enjoyable strategy for emotional decompression after a busy workweek. In fact, there is no disputing that attendance continues to grow at the theatre.
The Regina Opera Company currently performs at 5902 Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn (Our Lady of Perpetual Help). For more information on this and future projects, check its website at www.reginaopera.org, call 718-259-2772 or like it on Facebook. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.