Livermore Valley Opera Begins New Season with "Greatest Hits" Show, Concludes with "The Merry Widow"

Whether you're a novice opera fan or a seasoned veteran, the Livermore Valley Opera has something for you this year. The LVO's 14th season begins on October 22 and 23 with "Encore! Encore!," a show featuring highlights from operas by Bizet, Verdi, and Puccini. The company follows that up with their spring production, "The Merry Widow," the popular 1905 work by Franz Lehar which the LVO bills as "one of the most daringly naughty operettas."

The "greatest hits" format of "Encore! Encore!" marks a first for the company, known for its lavish sets and full orchestra accompaniment. The production will feature segments of Bizet's Carmen, Rigoletto and La Traviata by Verdi, and Puccini's La Boheme.

"I have invited five very talented singers to perform this show along with the Pacific Boys Choir, which has appeared on recordings with San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, " says Raquel Holt, producer of both LVO shows this season. "At around 30 minutes per segment, it's just like a mini production of each opera featuring the highlights of each work."

She explains that it's a show that will appeal to a wide variety of people.

"Sometimes in an opera production, there are two or three significant songs that are very memorable, and these are what musical director and conductor Alex Katsman and I have focused on," she says. "In Carmen they will hear 'The Toreador Song,' for example, which everyone has heard either as part of the opera or in commercials. When either the novice or veteran opera goer hears something like this, it immediately connects with their experience. It's a learning experience for the newcomers while opera buffs will enjoy them even more as they hear these highlights."

Lehar's The Merry Widow will be performed February 18, 19, 25, and 26, with the company using what Holt describes as "a very funny and witty translation" by the Bay Area's Russ Halper. "The Merry Widow is considered the most popular operetta of all," says Holt.

The Merry Widow tells the tale of a rich widow, Anna Glawari, and her adventures as she is wooed by Count Danilo Danilovistch. The operetta has its own musical highlights in "Vilia" and "The Merry Widow Waltz." Auditions for the production were held recently, with singers coming from as far away as Seattle to try out.

Performances will be held at Livermore Performing Arts Theater at 600 Maple Street, on the grounds of Livermore High School. Tickets may be ordered via telephone at (925) 960-9210, with season tickets ranging from $45 to $70 and tickets for individual performances ranging from $25 to $40.

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