Thursday, August 11, 2005
On Tuesday night, Keri Rusthoi was smiling but exhausted.
Two weeks ago, singers, dancers and musicians met for the first time to learn their parts and create a full-length production of "The Merry Widow."
Rusthoi chose the operetta because she said it is hilarious, accessible and the "most-performed operetta in history." Only after she chose the operetta did she learn that 2005 is the 100th anniversary of operetta's debut in Vienna.
Once the script was in her hand, she noticed how many "compramario roles" (read: small roles) there were for singers to learn.
Since the first day of rehearsal, the cast has worked 12-hour days, every day, to learn the music.
"We bit off a big bite," she said. "It's a fabulous show, but it stretched us. Everything after this will be a piece of cake."
When Rusthoi started Emerald City Opera three years ago, she dreamed of this: An auditorium full of community members learning the wonders of her favorite art form -- opera.
What she didn't imagine was all the tireless work that would go into staging opera in a small town using an entirely volunteer staff.
The reality of the task she undertook is sinking in, she said, but so is the reality of having established an opera company as an accepted institution in a small town.
She'll celebrate that later, when the curtain goes down Sunday.
The Emerald City Opera production of "The Merry Widow" will be performed in English. The operetta follows the love life of Anna Glawari. She is the widow of a Pontevedrian banker who left $50 million at the time of his death. There are many men courting her for her newfound wealth.
Glawari is sung by Jean Glennon, a professional soprano from Switzerland who was introduced to Rusthoi by Steamboat resident and chorus member Sue Heineman.
Although her suitors are many, Glawari is still in love with Danilo, a man she knew before her marriage, sung by David Malis.
"This was the musical theater of its day," Rusthoi said. "This is an opera for people who didn't think they liked opera."