Award-winning UAB Opera presents “The Merry Widow” Nov. 15, 17

Set in the 1950s, this timeless tale of marriage and infidelity features true love triumphing in the end.

UAB’s nationally award-winning opera program will present Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow,” sung in English by some of the best young singers in the region.


UAB Opera will present “The Merry Widow” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, and Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, Sirote Theatre, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets range from $10 to $20, with $5 student tickets and group rates available. Call 205-975-2787. Visit the UAB Department of Music online at

Though originally set at the turn of the 20th century, this story of love, marriage, infidelity and reconciliation is timeless, says UAB Opera Director Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk, D.M.A. UAB Opera’s production is set in the 1950s, and the action takes place in the fictional Pontevedrian embassy in Paris.

“The story is touching at times, hilarious at others,” Hurst-Wajszczuk says. “Everyone seems to be having extramarital affairs, men want the merry widow for her millions in the bank and the dancing ranges from proper waltzes to dance-hall kick lines. Of course, true love triumphs in the end, and nothing is terribly serious, even for opera.”

"The Merry Widow"
Thursday, Nov. 15 and Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012
UAB's Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center Sirote Theatre
Call 205-975-2787 for tickets

Baron Mirko Zeta is oblivious that his much younger wife has been engaging in a flirtation with a Parisian named Camille, who is madly in love with her. Zeta is concerned only that Hanna Glawari — widow of the wealthiest man in Pontevedro — not marry a foreigner during her sojourn in Paris, since this would spell financial disaster for the tiny country. We then meet the merry widow herself, who is quite aware of Zeta’s interest in her money and reassures him that she is still a Pontevedrian at heart. The men at the embassy party all confess their affection for her, though she is certain they are only interested in her money. Next to arrive is Count Danilo Danilowitsch, a lazy and hard-partying diplomat who sings about his favorite bar, Maxim’s. Hanna and Danilo were once in love, but his uncle forbade them to marry. Danilo now swears that if saying “I love you” really means to Hanna “I love your money,” he will never make such a declaration. The men fight for Hanna’s attentions, much to Danilo’s dismay, and the story of intrigue unfolds with humorous double-crosses and, of course, a harmonious, happy ending.

The undergraduate cast members, nearly all of them from Alabama, include Mary Katherine Whatley of Birmingham as Hanna; Jake Preston Hemminger of Montgomery as Danilo; Shane Bloemetjie of Huntsville as Camille; Gregg Stuart of Hattiesburg, Miss., as Zeta; Valencia Callens of Montgomery as Valencienne, his wife; Dominique Hector of Fairhope as Njegus; Gregory Payne of Gardendale as St. Brioche; Nole Jones of Prattville as Cascada; Houston Giles of Hueytown as Kromov; Caryanne Swindal of Bessemer as Olga, his wife; Reginald Melton of Hueytown as Bogdonowitsch; Ariel Reid of Huntsville as Sylvaine, his wife; Johnathan McNear of Birmingham as Pritschisch; and Ella Smitherman of Vestavia Hills as his wife. Chorus members are Casey Lamar Roberts of Lanett; Michele McIver of Union Hill; Cindy Spellman and Misha Vernon, each of Montgomery; Micah Brooker of Clay; Kenya Thomas of Bessemer; Courtney Cooper of Grant; Leah Eiland of Hueytown; Corey Griffin of Pinson; W. Bennett Alldredge of Tuscaloosa; and Michael Blackwell of Huntsville.