Thu 7/12-Sat 8/11
The first four productions of Ohio Light Opera this anniversary season were all not only OLO premieres, but all were also from the tradition of the American lyric theater. Go here to read the preview. Now come the imports. First, we’ll be treated to Iolanthe, a lesser-known Gilbert & Sullivan; La Périchole by the French master Offenbach, and season-closer, the Viennese confection Cloclo by Franz Lehár, also Cloclo an OLO premiere)
Iolanthe, last presented at OLO in 2010, is perfect for this year, as it more closely examines the world of politicians, laws, males and class snobbery. In the world of Iolanthe, however, females rule. They are disguised as fairies or peri, but they’re still female, make no mistake. The men, on the other hand, are peers. Of course, they’re also British, so their politics involve Liberals and Conservatives, as do ours. The House of Lords is praised for doing nothing and doing it particularly well. Now that could never happen here.
It seems that some years earlier, one of the peri fell in love with a peer and eventually had a son named Strephon. Once grown, his lady love Phyllis sees him embrace his still-youthful mom and immediately flies off the handle. She changes her mind and marries a peer instead of her half-human former love. Enter the Fairy Queen, who sets about wreaking havoc everywhere.
In short order, the Lord Chancellor determines that a new law is necessary — compelling each peer to marry a peri, thus changing her to human form. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to make sense, filled as it is with glorious music. Ted Christopher is both stage director and Lord Chancellor, while Sarah Best portrays Iolanthe. J. Lynn Thompson and Wilson Southerland share conducting duties. Spencer Reese is choreographer.
Jacques Offenbach ventured to Lima, Peru as the setting for his 1868 operetta, La Périchole. Based on a real-life tale, it is still a great romantic comedy and one filled with gorgeous melodies.
It concerns a penniless actress, the title character. When she is offered a court position at the behest of Don Andrès, they are both surprised to learn that she must be married in order to accept the post. While slightly inebriated she agrees, and discovers herself wed to her former love Piquillo. Hilarity ensues, along with the gorgeous, well-known “Letter Song.”
Long-time OLO aficionados will welcome the return of Boyd Mackus as Don Andrès, and Spiro Matsos as the Marquis de Tarapote, in the same roles they portrayed in OLO’s 1984 production La Périchole. The new English translation for this production is by Jacob Allen, who is a regular director for Ohio Light Opera. The orchestra will be conducted by Wilson Southerland, with stage direction by Julie Wright Costa.
The final production for this season is Franz Lehár’s 1924 CloClo. Severin, the mayor of Perpignan, has both a mistress, CloClo, and a wife. When CloClo sends him a letter asking for money, his wife presumes the letter writer is his “natural” daughter and welcomes her into their household. And then, the younger woman’s piano teacher falls head over heels for her, complicating the household. CloClo manages to end up in jail. This situation presents another opportunity for the mad jail-house scene plus a wide variety of musical styles including waltzes, tangos and foxtrots.
A new English translation was created for this production by stage director Steven Daigle. The orchestra will be conducted by Steven Byess. Spencer Reese will no doubt have a field day with the various dance rhythms in his capacity as choreographer. Costumes are by Jennifer Ammons.
All productions are at the College of Wooster’s Freedlander Theatre. For tickets call 330-263-2345 or go ohiolightopera.org.
[Written by Kelly Ferjutz]