When Johann Strauss conceived of his farcical operetta “Die Fledermaus” (The Bat), he might have been hard pressed to imagine all the comical improvisations and reinventions that would shape it since its debut in 1874.
The Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company’s program takes it to another place literally and figuratively. With The University of Southern Mississippi’s Mannoni Performing Arts Center under renovation, the second offering of the Symphony’s 93rd season moves to Parkway Heights United Methodist Church (Oct. 16 and Oct. 19) and offers a comic evening unlike anything one would expect when hearing the word: “opera.”
“It is an extremely funny show with over-the-top characters and situations,” said doctoral conducting student Jennifer Hart who conducts the performances. “Often, people think that opera is stuffy or that they won't understand it, but this is a show for everyone.”
With familiar music and of course, waltzes, the show sparkles with period charm. In the story, both maid and mistress attend a gala one night, and the husband, Eisenstein, is caught dallying with both of them — even though Eisenstein is supposed to be in jail at the time. All of these shenanigans are managed by the scheming Dr. Falke, who believes Eisenstein deserves his come-uppance.
The production also works within the Southern Miss School of Music’s primary mission – education. Besides the wonderful faculty and staff interaction as directors, designers and even performers, graduate students are mentoring underclassmen who have really never been on stage before. The students get to work one-on-one with other students who share their passion for the stage and learn from each other while developing a bond that becomes evident in the close-knit cast.
“The new setting has only enhanced the possibilities to incorporate the audience into this wonderful musical experience,” said Jay Dean, orchestra director. “The cast is spectacular and there are some true comic twists planned that you have to see and hear to appreciate.”
“Die Fledermaus” shows Tuesday, Oct. 16th and Friday, Oct. 19th, 7:30 p.m. at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg. Individual tickets are $20 and are available through the Southern Miss Ticket Office at www.southernmisstickets.comor 1.800.844.8452. All students are admitted at the door free with a valid student ID.