Opera back after 145 years

KABIR HINGORANI Contributing Writer

For the first time in 145 years, Jacques Offenbach’s “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein” will be performed in New Orleans, thanks to the Loyola Opera.

The opera’s last debut in the city was in 1867. The French banned this opera a few years after its debut due to its strong anti-militaristic message.

Offenbach offers a satirical view on old French bureaucracy and military shortcomings through humorous, love-fueled incidents between Private Fritz, his lover Wanda, Prince Paul, General Boum and the Duchess.

“This is a comedy very much like Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance,’ which I directed two years ago. It’s in English, and its appeal will reach children and adults. It’s light and funny, and unlike most operas, no one dies,” said Bill Fabris, stage director and choreographer.

The three-act operetta has been reduced to two acts, and each act is about an hour.

The comedy also has 12 roles, which are mostly double-cast, granting students more performing experience. Fabris and Carol Rausch, music director and conductor, are working with a new translation of the libretto.

“It’s a new translation of the French libretto (that) reminds me of the humor and cleverness of W.S. Gilbert,” Fabris said.

The crew has been rehearsing 10 to 12 hours a week since November 2011 and is expected to perform on Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. The performances will take place at the Roussel Performance Hall located on the second floor of the Communications/Music Complex.

Kabir Hingorani can be reached at [email protected]