Baron Zeta (Tom Frates) and the guys ponder the mysteries of women
FOPAC presented The Merry Widow, by Franz Lehar, at 51 Walden June 14-16, 2013. The fully staged operetta, directed by Kathy Lague, was sung in the English adaptation by Quade Winter. The production included dancers, chorus and orchestra conducted by Alan Yost.
Hanna Glavari: Robin Farnsley
Count Danilo Danilovitch: Ray Bauwens
Baron Mirko Zeta: Tom Frates
Valencienne: Sarah Vincelett
Camille: Mark Di Campo
Njegus: Greg Merklin
Viscount Cascada: Thomas Dawkins
Raoul de St. Brioche: Brad Amidon
Bogdonovitch: Donn Rosensweig
Kromov: Christopher Loschen
Soprano: Martha Birnbaum, Rebecca Clark Lightcap, Abbey Schultz, Augie Sherman, Carol Game Strelzoff, Marion Leek Wasserman, and Laura Weiss;
Alto: Helen Christensen, Alannah Gustavson, Sally Harris, Elizabeth Hoermann, Irina Kareva, Susan Ketteringham, and Elizabeth Martin;
Tenor: Bill Hoermann, Lance Levine, Christopher Loschen and Greg Merklin;
Bass: Tim Daughters, Jim Miller, Donn Rosensweig and Michael Zimmer.
By Quade Winter
Act I Back in the golden days when Germany had a Kaiser, Russia had a Czar, and Austria had a navy, there was a little postage stamp of a country called Pontevedro, which had a little postage stamp of an embassy in Paris, where all their hopes and fears are hovering tonight as their ambassador, Baron Zeta, celebrates the birthday of the most celebrated Pontevedrian of all: Hanna Glavari, heiress to fifty million francs, the backbone of little Pontevedro’s economy—as long as it stays in Pontevedro. But let some gold-digging Frenchman get a wedding band on the widow’s finger and—catastrophe! Camille de Rosillon, however, pays attention only to the ambassador’s lovely young wife, writing a heartfelt “I love you” on her fan. Hanna enters, reveling in the role of eligible widow. Njegus, embassy Major-Domo, has found the one man who can save the Fatherland: Count Danilo Daniloivitch, a former flame of Hanna’s. Danilo arrives fresh from the notorious Club Maxim’s. He and Hanna rehash old times—and old feuds. The band strikes up a waltz—Ladies’ Choice. Now Hanna must betray a preference. Dozens of bachelors want that dance, including young Camille, whom Valencienne is trying to match with Hanna and tame his roving eye. Hanna gives the precious dance to—Danilo. Fine! If the others want the dance so badly, he’ll sell it to them. Any takers? The suitors stalk off in disgust. Alone with Hanna, Danilo—at least for the moment—sweeps her into his arms and off they dance into the night.
Act II The town house of Hanna Glavari, the next evening. Hanna’s own birthday celebration, complete with a folk tale of the legendary Vilya. The Baron snoops for a scandal to discredit Camille with Hanna. Danilo arrives for more sparring with Hanna. The men agree that in the battle of the sexes, man’s best strategy is surrender. Valencienne tells Camille that their affair must end. “I’m a Respectable Wife” she writes on the other side of the fan. Sadly, they agree to a parting kiss in the nearby pavilion. Njegus has seen all. The Baron enters and, through the keyhole, sees Camille with—Valencienne! Horror! Hanna sneaks into the back door just before the Baron opens the front door to find Camille and—Hanna, who claims that they are to be married. Danilo reacts bitterly. Hanna plays the deception well, all believing that a wedding will take place soon.
Act III Later that evening, Hanna’s party continues at Maxim’s. Valencienne and the Grisettes entertain. The Baron is still distracted by l’affaire Hanna. Hanna and Danilo admit that they belong together. The Baron bursts in with evidence of Camille’s perfidy: the fan with the damning “I Love You.” But the fan is Valencienne’s! Horror again! But Valencienne turns the fan over: “I’m a Respectable Wife.” All is resolved, and little Pontevedro can breathe easier.