Your Regional Guide To The Performing Arts

Florentine Opera Opens Season with Light-Hearted Comedy

Florentine Opera Opens Season with Light-Hearted Comedy
Photo Credit: Florentine Opera Company

If you are interested in attending an opera for the first time, Florentine Opera’s upcoming production of The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar may be your perfect opportunity.


“It’s really a beautiful production with beautiful music,” said William Florescu, general director of the Florentine Opera. “There is also wonderful dancing, truly making it theatre at it’s best.”


The Merry Widow takes on the form of an operetta, which means “small opera.” Operettas are shorter than full-length operas and typically take on a lighter and more humorous tone. Operettas are also normally presented in the audience’s language, making the story easier to follow. Florentine’s Merry Widow will be sung in English, with English supertitles above the stage.


Alyson Cambridge, the lovely soprano who appeared in Florentine’s La Boheme and Madame Butterfly, will be making her role debut as Hanna Glawari (the widow). The Merry Widow follows Hanna as she takes pleasure in her life in Paris as suitors line up to win her favor.  


Although role debuts for opera singers are rare, Cambridge also made a debut with Florentine’s Madame Butterfly, where she played the title character.


“Florentine is the perfect place to try out a new role,” Cambridge said in an interview with the Florentine. “The Milwaukee audience is enthusiastic, and now knows me a bit from two previous seasons. It is always nice to debut a new role with a maestro and director that you have worked with before.”


Another Florentine favorite, baritone Corey McKern, will be playing the role of Count Danilo, the first secretary of the fictional Pontevedrin embassy and Hanna’s former lover. Other performers include tenor Cody Austin as Camille, Jamie Offenbach as Baron Zeta, Stacy Dove as Valencienne, and Rodell Rosel as Njegus. Both Dove and Austin will be making Florentine debuts.


Florescu first fell in love with the art opera for its larger than life feeling. The Merry Widow will certainly fit into this category as the Florentine has collaborated with the dancers and orchestra of the Milwaukee Ballet Company to stage the production. The Milwaukee Ballet dancers will also sing in the performance, which will be a refreshing change for the dance company’s fans.


The Merry Widow first premiered in Vienna in December 1905, and proved to be an instant success. Audiences have loved it ever since for the entertaining story and gorgeous songs.


“For me, it is good to give the public a counterbalance between the heavy and light-hearted, especially in today’s world” Florescu said. “I hope people will wallow in the fun romantic story.”


The Merry Widow runs at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts Oct. 20 and 22. For tickets visit or call the box office at (414) 273 – 7206.


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