Theater/Classical Music: The Merry Widow

So you say you don’t like opera? It’s sung in a foreign language by 3XL performers and seems inaccessible or unrelated to modernity? Have we got an operetta for you. Franz Lehar’s melodic The Merry Widow is a story about excess and great wealth, full of bright tunes sung by sensuous women and hunky men — in English! You know, just like America in the 1990s. Soprano Rochelle Bard in the title role should be especially interesting, as she’s garnered positive notice in the New York Times and other newspaper for her work. Greek baritone Stefanos Koroneos takes the male lead in his area debut. The story concerns the nation of Pontevedra’s attempt to keep its richest widow (and more importantly, her money) at home to avoid its bankruptcy. That means getting her re-married off to a local boy. But she’s partying in Paris, where everyone is chilling at Maxim’s, living the high life of champagne and can-can dancers. The Grand Duke works behind the scenes to get her to marry a Pontevedrian, an old lover appears, and wooing and intrigue — as they say — ensues. Artistic Director Mark Sforzini leads the St. Petersburg Opera’s production and conducts the orchestra; stage direction is by Theresa Andrasy-Sokol. Jan. 16-18, 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., Palladium Theater at St. Pete College, 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg, $18.50-$60, 727-822-3590.

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