Raise a glass to four decades of Utah Opera with bubbly ‘Die Fledermaus’

(Courtesy photo by Kent Miles for Utah Opera) Eisenstein, played by Daniel Belcher, tries to flirt with a Hungarian countess at a party — unaware that she's actually his wife, Rosalinda, played by Sara Gartland, in a scene from Utah Opera's "Die Fledermaus."

Utah Opera is ending its 40th-anniversary season with a big party, Johann Strauss Jr.’s bubbly operetta “Die Fledermaus.” Not only does the show revolve around pranks, disguises and gallons of Champagne, but the company has invited back a houseful of its most frequent guests — including Daniel Belcher (Eisenstein), Sara Gartland (Rosalinda), Abigail Rethwisch (Adele), Abigail Levis (Prince Orlofsky), Robert Breault (Alfred) and Gary Thor Wedow (conductor). There’s even a nutty cameo for artistic director Christopher McBeth.

Stage director Kyle Lang plays the silliness to the hilt, especially in the zany physical comedy of Act 3. (Breault’s merciless parody of an Italian tenor amps up the laughs even more with a string of operatic in-jokes.) Lang’s background as a professional dancer is particularly evident in the dance-heavy Act 2, which also features the Utah Opera Chorus as convincing party guests.

(Courtesy photo by Kent Miles for Utah Opera) Utah Opera is ending its 40th-anniversary season with a big party, Johann Strauss Jr.’s bubbly operetta “Die Fledermaus,” with performances May 12-20 at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City.

The student audience at Thursday’s dress rehearsal (ahead of Saturday’s opening) laughed heartily at the jokes and goofy situations, but the real draw of this “Fledermaus” is its excellent singing. Rethwisch, the former Utah Opera Resident Artist who stepped in at the last minute to sing the title role in last year’s production of “Lucia di Lammermoor,” sparkled as the chambermaid Adele. Her “Laughing Song” was one of the night’s highlights, along with Gartland’s stunning “Czardas.” Levis made a highly charismatic prince, Belcher was as effortlessly funny as ever, and Troy Cook was the master of facial and vocal acting as Eisenstein’s frenemy, Dr. Falke.

Wedow led the Utah Symphony with unerring pacing and balance.

See a behind-the-scenes video in The Tribune’s Instagram highlights at instagram.com/sltrib.

For tickets and show information, visit utahopera.org.

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