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‘Merry Widow’ Audiences Can Expect A Lot Of Fun

Say the word opera, and audiences often think of people singing stridently in a foreign language. This is not the case with “The Merry Widow.” A classic operetta by Franz Lehar, it’s set at the turn of the 20th century and filled with fun and frivolity.

More than 60 people are taking to the stage to do a production soon at The Saenger Theatre.
“It actually has a happy ending,” said Danielle Pastin, who traveled from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to play the lead role of Hanna. “It’s upbeat and happy, and there is a lot of dancing in it.”

Lehar’s “Merry Widow” is a classic story of a beautiful and rich woman visiting Paris looking for love. Though her countrymen scramble to keep her wealth at home, the young widow finds herself in a romantic stand-off with a handsome man from her past. Comedy ensues amid lavish parties, lilting waltzes and pretty love songs. And it’s all in English.

Credit Brandy Allport
A rehearsal for "The Merry Widow"

The production will be directed by Dean Anthony and conducted by Jerome Shannon, with Xavier Suarez as assistant conductor and pianist. Peter Steenblick, a University of West Florida Professor, serves as Chorus Master.

The Merry Widow features the Pensacola Opera Chorus, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and members of Ballet Pensacola. The two performances are at 7:30 p.m. March 11 and at 2 p.m. March 13 at the Saenger Theatre.