In the 19th century the operetta relied on catchy tunes and popular dances of the day. One of the most famous is Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow.
Set in 1905 in a glamorous Parisian setting, the title character Hanna has come into a substantial inheritance — and in this operetta, it seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that a widow in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a husband. When prospective bridegrooms set their sights on Hanna, rivalries swirl and romance crackles.
Farce, romance and jealousy abound when the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra and Orlando Light Opera collaborate in an updated production of Lehar's famed operetta. The Merry Widow will be performed Saturday August 19 at 7 p. m at The Scott Center for Performing Arts in Melbourne and Sunday, August 20 at 3 p.m. at the Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center.
Directed by Eric Pinder and conducted by Aaron T. Collins, Lehar's music sparkles in this English language production, staged and reimagined for the new millennium. Lehár's score is a succession of hit tunes — the famous "Merry Widow" waltz, the "Vilja Song," and numbers based on dance rhythms like the polka, the galop, the march, and even the newest import from America, the cakewalk. It was a huge international success, and helped to give operetta a new lease on life that continued for decades.
The Merry Widow is an example of the collaboration theme that characterizes the 2017-18 season of the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. The Symphony Conductor and Artistic Director, Collins enjoys the synergy created by the two groups and the updated twist on the musical classic.
"We are delighted to be presenting some of Florida's finest voices in this production," said Collins, who won the Richard A. Stark Award for cultural leadership from the Cultural Council of Indian River County.
"The cast is crazy talented and Lehar's music is of course timeless. The reimagined story is set in the current era and in English to make it more accessible to modern audiences, but fans of the classic operetta will definitely not be disappointed."
Since their premiere in 2016, Orlando Light Opera has been the talk of the town thanks to its inaugural production of one of the most beloved operettas of all time, The Student Prince. This production starring Orlando Light Opera founder, Marina Jurica-Preston, and nationally renowned tenor Samuel Hall, was received to great acclaim.
"At Orlando Light Opera our passion is bringing operettas to the stage, a magnificent blend of opera and musical theater is one of the most entertaining genres," said Jurica-Preston, also the Orlando Light Opera Artistic Director.
"We believe in engaging with the community and embracing the supreme talents of our local aspiring artists. Our goal is to offer audiences a chance to wrap themselves in music and lose themselves in the stories we love to tell."
Tickets are $20 in advance for adults are available through the orchestra website at www.SpaceCoastSymphony.org or at Marine Bank & Trust (beachside and mainland branches). Tickets at the door are $25. The concert is free for those aged 18 and under or with a student ID. For more information, call toll free to 855-252-7276 or visit www.SpaceCoastSymphony.org.