THEATER REVIEW: ‘Countess Maritza’ at Opera Light Opera by Lisa DeBenedictis

Through Thu 8/10

Maritza is perennial favorite of operetta repertoire companies around the globe. It is currently being performed by the Wooster-based repertory company Ohio Light Opera, with a stellar cast lead by the ebullient Tonya Roberts  (Countess Maritza) and Boyd Mackus (Count Tassilo aka Bela Torek)

The operetta, set in Hungary in the early 1920s at the manor house and estate of Countess Maritza, unfolds in three acts. The story opens with a disheartened Count Tassilo who has had to sell his estate to settle his late father’s debts and has taken a job under an alias as manager of Countess Maritza’s farm.

The Countess turns up,unexpectedly, and announces that she has become engaged to a Baron Zsupan. Maritza is not really engaged; she has planted the rumor to discourage innumerable down-and-out aristocrats who want to marry her. The Baron turns up, however, as does Tassilo’s sister, Lisa.

A farce ensues: Lisa loves the Baron; the Baron and Prince Populescu pursue Maritza; Maritza and Tassilo fall in love, and it all works out due in large part to the chemistry between Roberts and Mackus. The duo possesses extraordinary vocal mastery and Ms. Roberts is a gifted comedienne who infuses the farce with a romantic believability that elevates the plot and infuses the whole production with elegance.

The whole cast is polished and appealing. The exemplary 2017 festival orchestra is conducted by Wilson Sutherland and choreographed by Spencer Reese. The costume designer, Kristina Miller, does a laudable undertaking of creating outfits that enhance each character’s style while embracing the inventiveness and lavishness of the early 1920a. The set designer provides backdrops and sets that are opulent and transport the audience into a believably lush Hungarian estate.

[Written by Lisa DeBenedictis]

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