UT Opera Ensemble to present ‘The Merry Widow’

November 9, 2016 | Events, UToday, Arts and Letters
By Angela Riddel

The University of Toledo Opera Ensemble will open its season with Franz Lehár’s comedic opera, “The Merry Widow,” Friday, Nov. 11, in Doermann Theater.

Other performance dates are Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12-13, and Friday through Sunday, Nov. 18-20. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday performances are at 3 p.m.

Baron Popoff’s wife, Natalie (Meridian Prall), enjoys a dangerous flirtation with the Vicomte Camille de Jolidon (William Floss) in a scene from UT’s production of “The Merry Widow.”

Baron Popoff’s wife, Natalie (Meridian Prall), enjoys a dangerous flirtation with the Vicomte Camille de Jolidon (William Floss) in a scene from UT’s production of “The Merry Widow.”

The story of “The Merry Widow” begins with Baron Popoff of Marsovia who is holding a party in honor of his queen’s birthday at the Parisian embassy. One of his most important guests is a young, attractive and very wealthy widow, Sonjia Glawari. Fearing that a French suitor will win her hand, exporting her and her money out of his country, he devises a plan for her to marry a Marsovian prince, Danilo Danilovich. But the prince is a reluctant suitor and agrees only to keep eager French suitors at bay.

As the baron employs a spy to keep an eye on his plan at work, Sonjia and Danilo begin to fall in love as planned. However, Sonjia soon discovers that the prince is a carousing drunkard who spends entirely too much time with the ladies at a French club. Meanwhile, an amorous Frenchman tempts the baron’s wife with his charms.

“‘The Merry Widow’ is a fun-filled dance of an opera that leads all of its dancers through a series of comedic steps and missteps so that in the end, they all find their way into the the arms of the right partners,” said Dr. Denise Ritter Bernadini, UT assistant professor of music and director of the UT Opera Ensemble, who is producing the show.

The cast features Chelsie Cree and Eboné Waweru as Sonjia Glawari; Devon Desmond and Preston Wilson as Prince Danilo; Meridian Prall and Paige Chapman as Natalie; William Floss and Moises Salazar as Vicomte Camille de Jolidon; Steven Smithberger as Baron Popoff; Chy Billings III as Nisch; Brandon Warren and Nate Krebs as Marquis de St. Brioche; Bradley Piri as Marquis de Cascada; Samuel Spencer as Marquis Khadja; Avery Sujkowski as General Novikovich; Mackenzie Payton as Zozo; Anne Valade as Lolo; Danielle Hale as Dodo; Ashley Roark as Jou-Jou; Lindsey Miller as Margot; Kaitlynn McCamey as Frou-Frou; James Wheeler as Major Domo; Nnenne Edeh as Sylvaine; Robin Smithberger as Duchess Praskovia; Kate Walcher as Olga Novikovich; David Dennis as Count Francios Burgandy; Kathy Dennis as Countess Burgandy; chorus members Linda Hamann, John McSweeny and Mike Vanderpool; and dancers Sam Gandy, Cate Orchard and Nora Light.

Don Bernardini is the staging director for the opera; Nate Leonard is the music director; Steven J. Brown is the choreographer; Irina Zaurov is the costume designer; and Alexis Johnson is the stage manager.

Tickets range from $10 to $15 and are available through the Center for Performing Arts Box Office online at utoledo.tix.com or by calling 419.530.ARTS (2787).

Learn more about the UT Opera Ensemble here.

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