'Die Fledermaus' and 'The White Horse Inn'
at Ohio Light Opera,
reviewed by KELLY FERJUTZ
The college town of Wooster, Ohio, is some 60 or so miles south of Cleveland in an area that is either hilly or used for farming or both. In the summertime, folks from around the country delight in spending time there, because Wooster is also home to the Ohio Light Opera company.
The only company in the world devoted exclusively to operetta, and now in its 27th season, OLO provides training as well as performing experience for young artists just beginning their careers. Many of them return year after year, and this nucleus of veterans provides stability for the younger cast members as well as enjoyment for the audiences. OLO performs eight works in repertory over a two-month span, and a bit of careful planning will allow one to see two of these mostly old favorites in one day.
Last year, I was entirely charmed by former Clevelander, Ted Christopher, who was wonderful in the role as François Villon in Vagabond King. His large, secure baritone was easily understandable throughout Freedlander Auditorium, his experience and poise readily apparent. Although he is performing this season in two Gilbert & Sullivan works, he's also taken on a new role -- stage directing. Either he is a natural at directing, or he's a virtual sponge, having picked up all sorts of tid-bits from the various productions he's been in through the years. It was my good fortune to see his version of my favorite Die Fledermaus. It was 99.44% perfection, as effervescent as the champagne that features so strongly throughout the masterpiece of Johann Strauss II.
From left to right: Oliver Henderson (Gabriel), Robin De Leon (Rosalinda) and Tyler Nelson (Blind) in Ohio Light Opera's production of 'Die Fledermaus'. Photo © 2005 Matt Dilyard
Having the OLO Music Director, J Lynn Thompson as conductor provided the necessary ballast to keep the lighter-than-air production on the stage where it belonged. Obviously, Mr Thompson has conducted this and other Strauss operettas many times in his twenty-five years of experience, seventeen of them here at OLO. He knew exactly where the accelerations and ritardandos should be, and when the lilt was most important. Not to mention the infamous afterbeats! Every detail received his meticulous attention.
Copyright © 26 July 2005
Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA