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by Kelly Ferjutz, Special to ClevelandClassical

MFL1-(Matt-Dilyard)

“The majesty and grandeur of the English language,” as Henry Higgins put it to Eliza Doolittle, is on glorious display in My Fair Lady, currently on the boards at Ohio Light Opera in Wooster. In a word, this production is magnificent. I’d say perfect, but someone would be sure to quibble. But still, it must be more difficult to produce a stellar version of what is arguably the ‘world’s most popular musical’ than to do a fabulous version of something that no one has ever seen or heard until that very moment. (One can easily confirm this popularity by the number of audience members singing or humming along, under their breath, so to speak, right along with the performers.) Read the rest of this entry »

By J.D. Goddard

Pirates-PosterOn Tuesday, July 1, the house was full and the audience bustled with excitement for Ohio Light Opera’s opening performance of Pirates of Penzance in Freedlander Hall on the campus of Wooster college. The customary standing and singing of “God save the Queen” set the tone for the afternoon’s English fare.  As the curtain raised we were immediately swept into the action, a rocky seashore on the coast of Cornwall, town of Penzance.

The Pirates of Penzance tells the story of Frederic, a young apprentice who was mistakenly indentured to a band of pirates in his youth. At the end of his servitude, Frederic decides to leave the pirates and devote his life to their extermination.  He meets a bevy of beautiful maidens, instantly falling in love with one of them, Mabel. Unfortunately, the pirates reappear and take the maidens captive, leading to a series of increasingly ridiculous plot twists. Read the rest of this entry »

by J.D. Goddard

OLOOn Tuesday afternoon, July 2, at Friedlander Hall on the campus of The College of Wooster, the Ohio Light Opera presented their opening summer performance of Johann Strauss Jr.’s The Gypsy Baron. The scoring and the nature of the piece led many critics to consider it neither a comic opera nor a lyric opera, and thus an operetta. Whatever you call it, during the composer’s lifetime The Gypsy Baron enjoyed great success, second only to the popularity of Die Fledermaus. This was a time when Vienna was awash in the beloved waltzes of Strauss Jr. and audiences turned out in droves to hear his always engaging melodic waltz themes while dancing the evenings away.

For today’s audiences, however, staging an operetta such as The Gypsy Baron, with its predictable story line, romantic happy ending, concealed identities and syrupy dose of social satire can prove to be a daunting task. Ignaz Schnitzer’s libretto (English translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin) utilized the usual stock operetta types: feuding Hungarians and gypsies, a buried treasure and a notable absence of genuine mirth. Read the rest of this entry »

by J.D. Goddard

OLOBeginning in the 1870s, two Englishmen — playwright William S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan — revolutionized the musical theatre, creating a series of witty, melodic operettas that set a new standard for stage professionalism. Sullivan’s music sparkled with fresh melody, and Gilbert’s librettos blended silliness and satire in settings that ranged from pure fantasy to the utterly realistic. Innovative producer Richard D’Oyly Carte publicized these shows as “light operas”, but by any name, they were musicals — some of the finest the world would ever see in any language.” —John Kenrick

On Thursday afternoon, June 27, I traveled to Wooster to be delightfully entertained once again by a musical production of the Ohio Light Opera, the resident professional company of The College of Wooster. This was the opening performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1878 operetta H.M.S. Pinafore (The Lass that Loved a Sailor). This season marks the fifteenth time the OLO has counted Pinafore among its 120 productions over the past 35 years.

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