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Vashon Opera takes wing with ‘Die Fledermaus’
Two star-studded performances of Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus” — a work Vashon soprano Jennifer Krikawa calls an “exquisitely beautiful and bubbly spectacle” — are set to take place next weekend at the Vashon High School theater.
This latest presentation by the five-year-old Vashon Opera, founded in 2009 by Jennifer and her baritone husband, Andrew Krikawa, will boast a stellar cast of principals, a large chorus, a chamber orchestra filled with island musicians and appearances by local dancers and other guest stars.
“There’s so much to be excited about,” said Jennifer.
The operetta, which debuted to great acclaim in Vienna in 1974, seems particularly well suited to Vashon Opera’s populist hybrid of community and professional involvement.
A tale of comical revenge and mistaken identities, set to the lilting music of Strauss, the opera features characters drawn from upper-crust Vienna — perfect parts for the professional opera luminaries who have been recruited for principal roles.
However, a party scene in the second act will provide opportunities for cameos by Vashon performers usually not associated with opera: ballerinas, a team of aerialists recruited by Martha Enson and Vashon’s own magician, Tom Pruiksma. Local singer Joe Farmer will lead a chorus of 45 islanders.
“I think it is exciting to create what is a show within a show,” said Jennifer, referring to the party scene.
As in past productions, the Krikawas have recruited regional and national opera singers to play the principal roles in the show.
Cast members Karen Early Evans, Gino Lucchetti, Wesley Morgan, Ksenia Popova, Charles Robert Stephens, Cheryse McLeod Lewis, Barry Johnson and Emily Belshaw all have long and storied resumes as opera performers.
Both Andy and Jennifer Krikawa are sitting this opera out, as singers, at least.
“I love to perform, but I also love coordinating and working with all these amazing artists,” said Jennifer. “This is a really huge show, so it’s a good time for me to be able to concentrate on the mechanics of everything coming together. In a way I get to enjoy it more because I don’t have to worry about my memorization or vocal abilities.”
Helming the opera as conductor, stage director, musical director and orchestral arranger will be James Brown, who has lent his talents to five other Vashon Opera productions.
Though written in German, “Die Fledermaus” (which translates to “The Bat”) will be sung in English, and as a comic operetta, it includes spoken acting along with singing.
“An operetta sort of crosses a little bit into the musical theater side,” Jennifer said. “I think it’s really accessible to a person who’s not quite sure about the seriousness of opera.”
Vashon Opera will present “Die Fledermaus” at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at the Vashon High School Theater. A discounted ($15) final dress rehearsal will be open to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 18. For more information and to purchase regular tickets ($32)online, visit www.vashonopera.org. Tickets are also on sale at the Vashon Bookshop.