To celebrate its 70th anniversary, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (KWS) orchestra is inviting music lovers of all kinds to a party – a comedic, operatic party.
For two nights, Jan. 15 and 16, the KWS is putting on the classic John Strauss opera, Die Fledermaus, a romp in comedy and beloved solos and chorus pieces. The show originally premiered in 1874 and was the third operetta written by Johann Strauss, who was mostly known for his ballroom dance music.
The Viennese operetta centres around a New Year’s Eve masquerade ball, hosted by a character named Count Orlovsky, a Russian prince. The show goes from the bedroom to the ballroom to a prison, in a practical joke that spins out of control.
“The characters want to attend the party, but have to lie in order to go,” said Kari Hueber, director of audience engagement at the KWS. “One character, Eisenstein, delays his prison term to have fun at the ball, but tells his wife that he’s off to jail. There’s a wonderful scene with everyone asking for more champagne and everyone ends up in jail. The main thing to remember is that it’s a big party on stage.”
The KWS will be putting on a concert version of the classic performances, but Hueber says it won’t take away from the audience’s experience.
“The audience will be massively entertained by the plot twists and the vocal talents of so many great singers – many of them with ties to Wilfrid Laurier University,” she said, mentioning the partnership the KWS enjoys with the Laurier music program. “This one came together with Wilfrid Laurier University and we couldn’t be happier to have members of Opera Laurier, Laurier Singers and WLU Alumni Chorus join us on stage along with talented soloists, many of whom went to Laurier themselves.”
She also noted that you don’t have to be an opera connoisseur to enjoy the singing and orchestral music – anyone will appreciate the performance.
“This concert is perfect for all music lovers. Those who love opera will be thrilled to hear that opera is back in KW, but those who aren’t familiar with opera will love this hilarious tale and catchy music – it’s wickedly funny,” she said, referencing how the opera is traditionally performed in German, but not this time. “It will also be sung and narrated in English, so it can be easily followed by all audience members.”
Over 140 years later, the plot and the jokes will still entertain theatre-goers and music-lovers alike with relatable writing and a ‘light-hearted’ atmosphere.“Comedy has the ability to put all the characters on the same level, so characters in the opera of different classes…are all brought together by the comedy, kind of like in Shakespeare’s comedies,” she said. “Comedy brings out the human aspect in all of us, which is something that will always resonate. The music is also just fabulous – it’s light-hearted and full of delightful waltzes. This opera is all about a party, and who doesn’t love a good party? It’s often performed around New Year’s for this reason.”
The show also marks the 70th anniversary of the orchestra itself, first taking the stage in 1945.
“We started in the Lyric Theatre in Kitchener in October 1945,” said Hueber. “It’s a huge milestone and to help celebrate we programmed concerts like this one that really show the breadth of the orchestra and the wonderful partnerships we have in the community.”
The curtain goes up on the first performance of Die Fledermaus at 8 p.m. on Jan. 15, with a second performance at 8 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Centre In The Square. For tickets to see the operatic comedy, visit www.kwsymphony.com.