Music by Emmerich Kálmán
Libretto by Julius Brammer and Alfred Grünwald
April 25, 27, May 3, 2019, at 8 pm
Sunday, May 5, at 2:30 pm
The Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St.
Sung in English, with English surtitles
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes, including one intermission
Pre-performance talk 1 hour before curtain
Above: Scenes from Pacific Opera Victoria's production of Countess Maritza, with
Leslie Ann Bradley, Adam Luther, Nicola Cavendish, Jennifer Taverner, Michael Barrett, Bruce Kelly, Suzanne Rigden,
Brian Linds, Jim Leard, R.J. Peters, Nolan Kehler, Allison Ward, Julian Vitek, with members of the Victoria Children's Choir and the Pacific Opera Chorus directed by Giuseppe Pietraroia. Timothy Vernon conducts the Victoria Symphony. The production is directed by Linda Brovsky, with set and costume design by Patrick Clark, lighting by Wendy Lundgren, and choreography by Jacques Lemay.
When the beguiling young Countess Maritza invents a fiancé in order to keep her hordes of admirers at bay, it's inevitable that she will find true love by the end of the story.
With plenty of plot twists and fireworks, a happy ending, and scrumptious music from the heyday of Viennese operetta, this romantic comedy is sophisticated, nostalgic, and unabashedly entertaining – a joyous reminder that not all opera is "a song of love and death."
The Delights of an Operetta
CHEK videographer Steve Grebanier filmed some delightful excerpts from Countess Maritza and spoke with director Linda Brovsky, soprano Leslie Ann Bradley, and Tenor Adam Luther.
The melodies are really incredibly beautiful ... Kalman wanted something that would make the people go out of the theatre singing, as opposed to worrying about their lives ... It's like drinking champagne ... a nice buzz you'll have the whole time
Romantic comedy Countess Maritza delights audience
Kevin Bazzana reviews Countess Maritza for the Times Colonist.
Timothy Vernon ... has abundant affection for and insight into Central European repertoires requiring a special stylistic touch.
Conducting the Victoria Symphony and a faultless cast, Vernon gives a buoyant, sparkling, passionate account of Kálmán's score....
Leslie Ann Bradley is immensely personable in the title role ... Suzanne Rigden, as Lisa, has a light, clear, sweet tone beautifully appropriate to the genre.... Michael Barrett is endearingly goofy as Baron Zsupan, while Adam Luther, as Count Tassilo, is engagingly ardent....
Veteran Canadian actress Nicola Cavendish ... offers a masterclass in comedy as Princess Bozena, assisted with infectious flamboyance by Brian Linds as her servant, Penizek.
Director Linda Brovsky has mounted a show that is both funny and touching, and her staging always seems animated, natural and efficient....
Countess Maritza takes a bow at the Royal
Mike Devlin of the Times Colonist interviews Linda Brovsky, director of Countess Maritza .
Countess Maritza has amassed something akin to a cult following since its première 75 years ago. Its supporters are vocal, but ... even opera buffs have only a passing knowledge of the operetta by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán
"In Eastern Europe, it's very popular," said director Linda Brovsky "... But it is not something that is known in North America at all. When I posted on Facebook that I was coming to Victoria to do this ... I had something like 150 responses from my colleagues all over the world saying, 'Oh, I love that piece!'..."
Intrigue and romance in POV's newest opera
Robert Moyes previews Countess Maritza for the Victoria News.
Pacific Opera Victoria breaks out the bubbly and puts on a party hat with Countess Maritza, an effervescent charmer from what's known as the Silver Age of Viennese Operetta...
The star of the show is Kálmán's gorgeous music, featuring a buoyant fusion of Viennese waltz with Hungarian folk tunes. Very much influenced by both Puccini and Tchaikovsky, Kálmán was a skilled composer whose many operettas brought him worldwide fame...
...the stage is set for a nostalgic, old-fashioned and highly entertaining evening of captivating music and fizzy frivolity.
WIth the Victoria Symphony, the Pacific Opera Chorus,
and members of the Victoria Children's Choir
The Hungarian Country Estate of the Countess Maritza
The Gypsy girl Manja sings of the elusiveness of luck. Berko complains that she has eyes only for the new farm manager. Tschekko dreams of the day Countess Maritza will return and praise him for tending her estate with such care.
Tassilo enters, followed by children who give him gifts and sing him a song. As they leave, his old friend Karl Stephan arrives with the news that the estate of Tassilo's father has been sold and the family's debts paid. Tassilo explains to Karl Stephan that he is working incognito as the farm manager, under the name of Bela Törek, in order to earn a dowry for his sister Lisa. He insists that Lisa must never know they are now poor. He admits he sometimes misses his old life in Vienna –- the waltzes, the Danube, the pretty young women.
Tschekko announces another visitor – Prince Popolescu – who orders Tassilo to organize dinner for thirty: Countess Maritza is on her way to celebrate her engagement. Maritza and her entourage arrive and are welcomed with Gypsy music and dancing. Maritza calls for a toast to her future bridegroom who can't make it to the party.
When Tassilo introduces himself to Countess Maritza as the new estate manager, he is shocked to find that Lisa is one of her guests. They have an affectionate reunion, but Tassilo begs Lisa to keep his identity a secret.
Maritza divulges to a friend that her engagement is a hoax. She is so tired of being pestered by men who want to marry her for her money that she has invented a fianc&eacu;te and given him the first name that popped into her head – Baron Koloman Zsupan, the fictional pig farmer in the Strauss operetta The Gypsy Baron.
No sooner has Maritza mentioned the Baron's name than a genuine pig-farming Baron named Koloman Zsupan appears. He has seen the newspaper announcement of his engagement and feels duty bound to attend the party. Maritza explains the situation to Zsupan. He proposes that she go to his country estate in Varasdin with him.
Tassilo and Lisa return from a tour of the estate. Lisa joins the party, leaving Tassilo outside with the servants and Gypsies. When the Countess sends out a bottle of champagne, Tassilo drinks a glass, lamenting his past happiness.
Maritza overhears and asks him to repeat the song for her guests. When he refuses, she fires him. As Zsupan and Popolescu urge Maritza to return to town with them, Manja reads Maritza's palm and predicts that she will fall in love within four weeks. To avoid that fate, Maritza resolves to stay in the country and sends her guests away. Admitting to Tassilo that she acted hastily, she asks him to stay.
Act 2. Four weeks later
Tassilo has become a favourite of Maritza's female guests. Meanwhile, Lisa has fallen in love with Zsupan, but he talks only of "the divine Maritza." When he notices Lisa's distress, Zsupan can't believe anyone would be foolish enough not to return her love.
Tassilo tries to discuss business matters with Maritza, but the conversation quickly derails. Instead, Maritza asks him how he would treat her if he were an aristocratic guest at one of her glamorous parties. He admits he would be dazzled by her beauty but that he would also pity her. Giving in for a moment to their mutual attraction, they join in a waltz.
Zsupan tells Maritza that under the terms of his grandfather's will, he'll lose his inheritance unless he marries a girl who has no money. Popolescu arrives with guests, dancers, and musicians for an impromptu cabaret. Maritza invites Tassilo to join the party, but Popolescu's rudeness causes Tassilo to stay behind to write a letter. Maritza joins him, and again, they imagine they are equals – she a village girl, he a young man in love with her.
Zsupan tells Lisa that everything is over between him and Maritza; she counters that everything is over between her and the man she has been pining for. As Zsupan realizes he's the man in question, they bid each other a bittersweet adieu.
In a bid to discredit his rival, Popolescu tells Maritza he has seen Lisa strolling hand in hand with the farm manager, who is obviously an imposter: he hands over Tassilo's letter, which proves that he is an impoverished aristocrat. Feeling betrayed and jealous, Maritza insults the bewildered Tassilo and thrusts a handful of money at him which he throws away. Lisa intervenes and leaves with Tassilo. Everyone, including Maritza, finally realizes they are brother and sister.
Act 3. The following morning
In native dress and ready to take up farm management, Maritza sends the hung-over Zsupan and Popolescu off to help in the dairy. Tassilo brings in the paperwork for his successor and asks for a reference. Maritza complies.
Tassilo's aunt, Princess Bozena, arrives with her servant Penizek and informs Tassilo that she has sold her land to a Texas oilman for an enormous sum, bought back Tassilo's estate, and found him a wealthy bride. Tassilo explains that his heart is not free.
Popolescu appears, and he and the Princess flirt shamelessly. Zsupan proposes to Lisa and asks her to come with him to Varasdin.
Penizek brings in Maritza, disguised as Tassilo's bride. When Tassilo confesses that he loves another, Maritza reveals herself and suggests Tassilo read the reference she wrote him; it says that whether or not he's any good at farming, she'd welcome him as a husband.
All three couples announce their pending nuptials and celebrate with a waltz.