by J.D. Goddard
On Tuesday afternoon, July 2, at Friedlander Hall on the campus of The College of Wooster, the Ohio Light Opera presented their opening summer performance of Johann Strauss Jr.’s The Gypsy Baron. The scoring and the nature of the piece led many critics to consider it neither a comic opera nor a lyric opera, and thus an operetta. Whatever you call it, during the composer’s lifetime The Gypsy Baron enjoyed great success, second only to the popularity of Die Fledermaus. This was a time when Vienna was awash in the beloved waltzes of Strauss Jr. and audiences turned out in droves to hear his always engaging melodic waltz themes while dancing the evenings away.
For today’s audiences, however, staging an operetta such as The Gypsy Baron, with its predictable story line, romantic happy ending, concealed identities and syrupy dose of social satire can prove to be a daunting task. Ignaz Schnitzer’s libretto (English translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin) utilized the usual stock operetta types: feuding Hungarians and gypsies, a buried treasure and a notable absence of genuine mirth. [Read more…]