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School of Music

‘The Merry Widow’ Celebrates Over 120 Years of Opera at BYU

BYU’s Fall Opera “The Merry Widow” Combines the Talents of the School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Media Arts, Bids Farewell to the de Jong

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Cristy Ruiz as "The Merry Widow" Hanna Glawari and Logan Reid as Count Danilo Danilovitch.


“The Bachelorette” meets “Pride and Prejudice” in “The Merry Widow,” an operetta composed by Franz Lehár.

The show’s director, Shea Owens, said, "The difference between an opera and an operetta is that an operetta is a bit lighter in content and usually has spoken dialogue –– closer to a musical –– whereas an opera is usually completely sung through.”

This classic comedy follows the story of the wealthy widow Hanna Glawari (played by Ariana Abadia and Cristy Ruiz), who works to find her true love while potential suitors are fighting for her attention and her wealth.

Count Danilo Danilovitch (played by Taylor Egan and Logan Reid) was previously engaged to Hanna and is still in love with her. However, he doesn’t want Hanna to think he is only interested in her money, and he tries to hide his feelings for her.

The game is on, yet among all the intrigue, deception and laughter, Hanna and Danilo share some tender moments and end up dancing “one of the most famous and beautiful waltzes ever written.”

BYU has performed opera for over 120 years. Owens said he and other vocal faculty members chose the beloved operetta “The Merry Widow” not only to celebrate this milestone, but to say farewell to the de Jong Concert Hall and highlight the talents of current students in the vocal program.

The opera will feature over 150 performers from the School of Music and other areas of BYU, including soloists and chorus members from the Classical Vocal Division, instrumentalists from the BYU Philharmonic and dancers from the International Folk Dance Ensemble. The show will be conducted by Kory Katseanes.

Behind-the-scenes support comes from the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications, School of Music and Department of Theatre and Media Arts. Support includes production faculty and staff, theatre stage management, dramaturgy, technical support, makeup artists, costume and prop designers, lighting, audio engineers and stage operations, among others.

"The Merry Widow" 2
Ellie Niver as Valencienne & Matthew Paez as Count Rosillon in "The Merry Widow."


“The greatest challenge in directing this production has been the scope of it,” Owens said. “The cast this year is about four times larger than the cast of last year's opera –– even the orchestra is bigger.”

Another challenge the producers faced was adapting and updating some of the opera’s content to be more relevant, understandable and humorous for today’s audiences.

“We live in a very different time from when Lehár composed this opera,” Owens said. “His music is timeless, of course, and we haven’t changed that. But we’ve updated some of the musical text and spoken dialogue and we hope our audiences will really enjoy it!”

This year’s fall opera runs from October 19 until October 22, with previews on October 15 and 18.

Tickets and Show Details

Previews:
  • Saturday Oct. 15, 2022 | 7:30 p.m. 
  • Tuesday Oct. 18, 2022 | 7:30 p.m. 

Location: de Jong Concert Hall
Price: $8–10

Performances:
  • Wednesday Oct. 19, 2022 | 7:30 p.m. 
  • Thursday Oct. 20, 2022 | 7:30 p.m. 
  • Friday Oct. 21, 2022 | 7:30 p.m. 
  • Saturday Oct. 22, 2022 | 7:30 p.m. 

Location: de Jong Concert Hall
Price: $10–16

Tickets: Available in person at the BYU HFAC Ticket Office, by phone at (801) 422-2981 or online.

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