In Nimble Fashion
Ohio Light Opera's 'The Queen's Lace Handkerchief',
reviewed by KELLY FERJUTZ
Well, here's a howdy-doo! Oops, sorry. Wrong composer, wrong operetta, entirely. But still, such a comment is appropriate. Here's an operetta that is virtually unknown by one of the greatest composers of such fare who ever existed. Furthermore, it's not set in Vienna or anywhere even close, and not during the time of the late 1800s! What is it, you ask?
It's The Queen's Lace Handkerchief by the waltz-king himself, Johann Strauss Jr. And of all things, it's set in Portugal during 1570. Amazing. It's done to take advantage of the tale of Cervantes and Don Quixote, which it does quite well, even if the rest of the plot leaves a bit to be desired. However, the music is Strauss, and that's wonderful under any circumstances.
Steven Daigle, artistic director of Ohio Light Opera in Wooster Ohio, took it upon himself to resurrect this work, which had not been heard in the States for more than 100 years! It took a bit of digging on his part to get the music and the words all together in one place for the first time, too, but he should be pleased with himself for having made the effort. It's a worthy addition to the repertoire.
Jack Beetle as Cervantes (centre, arms in the air) in Ohio Light Opera's production of 'The Queen's Lace Handkerchief'. Photo © 2006 Matt Dilyard
To be sure, when last this work was performed, marshmallow plots and royal personages were much more common and probably more appreciated, as well. That does not mean, however, that they are lost to history or even memory. Press material from Ohio Light Opera states this opera 'was more popular during the 1880s than Die Fledermaus'. Well, it was fun, certainly, but I still think I'd take Fledermaus, given my druthers.
Copyright © 17 August 2006
Kelly Ferjutz, Ontario, Canada