Well, we’re almost ready for our first performance of The Merry Widow, tomorrow evening at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool.Â This has been a great week of putting the show together, and it’s going to be a wonderful, romantic and entertaining evening with one of the strongest casts we’ve ever had.
A story of romance, passion, high society and amorous intrigue, Franz Lehar’s operetta The Merry Widow is set in the heady champagne days of decadent, nineteenth-century Paris. It’s just the sort of tale to warm up a chilly November evening when Maritime Concert Opera performs the music at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool on November 20 and at the Pearl Theatre in Lunenburg on November 22.
Often called ‘The Queen of Operettas’, The Merry Widow has been the most celebrated and successful show of its kind ever since its debut in Vienna in 1905. The melodies and songs – Vilia”, “The Merry Widow Waltz”, “You’ll Find Me At Maxim’s” to name but a few – are lovingly played and sung the whole world over, making it one of the most popular Viennese operettas of all time.
As with all MCO productions, this one will be performed in concert (without sets, elaborate costumes or staging). Only the music will be performed, with linking narration by MCO artistic director Nina Scott-Stoddart. The opera will be performed in English.
Leading the cast is young Newfoundland soprano Janna Pardy in the title role. A graduate of Mount Alison, Vancouver Academy of Music and Western Washington University, Janna has previously appeared with MCO as Musetta in La boheme and Violetta in La Traviata.
Making his Nova Scotia debut in the role of Count Danilo is rising young Vancouver baritone Justin Welsh, an alumnus of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, as well as Pacific Opera Victoria’s young artist program. Also making his debut with MCO is Ontario baritone Mark Gough, a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, who has sung with the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop as Don Giovanni and as the Count in Marriage of Figaro. Mark will sing the role of Cascada.
Returning to MCO is one of our favourite tenors, Manitoba’s Keith Klassen, who appeared as Rodolfo in La boheme and Alfredo in La traviata, in the role of Camille. As his lover, Valencienne, we have New Brunswick soprano Sarah Barrett-Ives, a recent graduate of Dalhousie University, who made her debut with us in Bizet’s Carmen this year and Nova Scotia tenor Andrew Pelrine also returns, in the role of St Brioche.
The MCO Chorus, a community choir based in Lunenburg, provides rollicking accompaniment, and music director Tara Scott oversees everything from the piano.
Maritime Concert Opera was founded in 2003 to bring more live performances of opera and operetta to Nova Scotia, particularly the South Shore. The company performs works in concert, without set, costumes or staging, and has presented seven full operas to date (Dido and Aeneas, Cavalleria Rusticana, Barber of Seville, La boheme, Suor Angelica, La traviata and Carmen), as
well as many smaller shows.