Operetta presents a challenge, but still a great s

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    By MAUREEN JONES

    “The Merry Widow,” an operetta combining operatic and waltz music, opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the deJong Concert Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center.

    This is the ultimate operetta, said Marion Bentley, stage director of the production and a professor of theater and media arts. An operetta is different than an opera.

    “An operetta has dialogue and relates more to musical comedy,” Bentley said. “The Merry Widow” is similar to a Broadway musical because of the dialogue and characterization, he said.

    The operetta is set in the fictional country of Pontevedrio. Hannah Glawari is a wealthy widow and is pursued by many suitors.

    Baron Zeta is the guardian of Hannah’s fortune. He carefully screens the widow’s suitors and eventually convinces Prince Danilo to court the widow, unaware that the Prince is Hannah’s former lover.

    Meanwhile, Zeta’s wife, Valencienne, begins to feel neglected and flirts with a Frenchman, Camille de Rossillon.

    The action that follows involves the couples unscrambling the jumbled relationships, which are all accompanied by the music of the operetta.

    “There’s a lot of fun and humor in “The Merry Widow,” said Susan Deauvano, who is double cast in the role of Hannah with Katherine Brim and is a graduate student at BYU. She has played the role of Hannah with the Utah Festival Opera.

    The genre of operetta has not been taken as seriously in the musical world as opera, said Lawrence Vincent, who is the opera director at BYU and also translated the operetta from German for this production.

    “A performer in an operetta is required to sing correctly, dance, act and speak,” Vincent said. In an opera, the singer may not be required to do so much, he said.

    He has gained a great deal of respect for operetta as a genre in his work with the Viennese Folk Opera, Vincent said. He feels the operetta singer has as great a demand on them as any singer, he said.

    An operetta is not a musical though, Vincent said. “It requires a more classically trained voice,” he said.

    There are familiar melodies in “The Merry Widow,” Bentley said. Some of the songs in the operetta include: “Women, Women, Women” “Villa” and “The Merry Widow Waltz.”

    Many of the leads are double cast and include Douglas Ivey as Baron Mirko Zeta, Tausha Bunker and Rachel Hulme as Valencienne and Jeremy Hoops and Chris Hopkin as Prince Danilo.

    “The Merry Widow” also runs Saturday, Wednesday, Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. Tickets are $9 for the public, $7 for students and faculty and $8 for alumni and senior citizens. They may be purchased at the Fine Arts Ticket Office or by calling 378-4322.

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