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Date 5 March 2005, 8pm Venue Presentation House, North Vancouver

Reviewer John Jane


 

 

 

 

Producer Roger Nelson Director Peter Jorgensen Musical Director Martin Danyluk


This meretricious, though immensely entertaining Strauss operetta, presented by The North Shore Light Opera Society, is a good old-fashioned caper with a healthy measure of mistaken identities and cheating spouses. The production, sung in English and relocated from nineteenth-century Vienna to pre-depression America, retains much of the humour as that of the original German-language libretto.

Add to this, a mischievous villain with a dubious Southern drawl and “good ol’ boy” persona plus an Australian soprano cast as a Russian prince, and you have the makings of a fun-filled and fascinating evening provided by the best truly amateur voices in the Lower Mainland.

Socialite, Gabriel Eisenstein (David Hinton) has been sentenced to eight days in prison for an altercation with a policeman; however, on the advice of his old friend Dr Falke (Matt Ramer), he decides to spend his last night of freedom at Prince Orlofsky's ball. Eisenstein hardly suspects that the invitation is part of an elaborate plot by Falke as payback for a prank played many years earlier. The two plan their evening of debauchery singing the mirthful “What a Night!”

The roguish doctor also weaves Eisenstein's wife, the coquettish Rosalinda, into the plot, having her attend as a masked Hungarian Countess. Meanwhile, Rosalinda (Megan Bryden) meanwhile is also planning a tryst with Alfred, a bumptious tenor who ardently serenades her from the street, much to the amusement of the house staff.

While Rosalinda is entertaining Alfred, Frank, the prison governor, arrives to arrest Eisenstein in person. Fearing for her reputation, the heroine allows Alfred to be mistakenly identified as her errant husband, pressing her point in the tuneful ode, “A Married Couple, A Home Serene.”

 

 

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Act II moves the story to Prince Orlofsky’s residence, where obvious confusion ensues. David Hinton is delightfully preposterous as a philandering Eisenstein, flirting with Adele whom he detects as having a resemblance to his wife's maid (who indeed she is). Alia Rosenstock is first rate as the petulant and vivacious Adele. She completely bewilders Eisenstein, leading the company in the instantly recognizable “Laughing Song,” asking the question, “What lady’s maid ever had a hand or foot like mine?”

Eisenstein then unwittingly turns his attentions to his own wife, when introduced by Prince Orlofsky as his guest of honour, the mysterious Countess. Their duet of “The Tick-Tock Polka” is a production highlight.

Strauss's beloved music carry us through the chaos and as dawn breaks, everyone is still singing as they arrive at the prison where the luckless Alfred is becoming further intoxicated on Eisenstein’s wine in the company of the constables. Subsequently everyone's true identity is revealed with the whole affair attributed to Orlofsky’s champagne.

Director, Peter Jorgensen’s minimalist sets, essentially consisting of a round platform elevated about a foot and a half above the stage floor proved versatile enough to convey a sense of place in every scene.

The programme lists instrumental accompaniment provided by a five-piece ensemble. However, at Saturday’s (5 March) performance, Martin Danyluk valiantly supplied it solo on the Yamaha electric piano.

This is a well-paced production, with principal members offering excellent characterizations. Nevertheless, extra rehearsal time on weaker elements may have added even more value to this professional-level production.

2005 John Jane

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