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1920s spin on classic operetta, 'The Merry Widow'

March 28, 2013

In 'The Merry Widow,' a prince from a small kingdom courts a wealthy widow to keep her money in the country. Don't miss this collaboration between the Ralph Opera Center and the CSU Sinfonia Orchestra!

March 29, 30, April 6, 7:30 p.m.
April 7, 2 p.m. matinee
Griffin Concert Hall
University Center for the Arts
1400 Remington Street

Colorado State University’s Ralph Opera Center, along with the CSU Sinfonia Orchestra, presents The Merry Widow by Franz Lehár.


Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) Ticket Office in the UCA Griffin Lobby, by phone at (970) 491-2787, or online.

Youth tickets must be purchased in person at the Ticket Office. Advance purchase is recommended to avoid at-the-door fees.

  • $20/public
  • $10/Colorado State students
  • $1 for youth under 18

Town seeks husband for widow

The Merry Widow tells the story of a rich widow, Hanna Glawari, and her countrymen’s attempt to keep her money in the principality by finding her the right husband. Count Danilo Danilovitsch, who was once in love with a penniless Hanna before her marriage, vies for her affection, but his efforts ignite a back-and-forth war of the roses.

This romantic comedy is filled with twists and turns that will keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

Blake directs, Kenney conducts

The 'green cast' performing 'The Merry Widow.' Image by CSU Photography.CSU’s production, performed in English, is directed by Tiffany Blake, Ph.D., and conducted by Wes Kenney.

“I chose this piece because it is a great fit for the voices we have in our program,” noted CSU director of opera Tiffany Blake.

“It is an ensemble show, so it also gives a lot of students the opportunity to perform. Aside from these more practical reasons, it is an entertaining piece with beautiful music.”

The Merry Widow is a great first-time opera experience. Because it is an operetta, it includes musical numbers bridged by spoken dialogue. Resembles musical theater in structure, it is often a more familiar form to first-time opera goers, but also proves a classic favorite for the seasoned opera aficionado.

Beautiful design, clothing

In addition to the accessible format, CSU is putting a more modern twist on the original production. Franz Lehár’s original script sets the story in Paris during the early 1900s, but CSU’s production will be set in the 1920s.

“The 20s were a time of beautiful design, both in terms of architecture and clothing, so it afforded the design team lots of opportunity to create something beautiful on stage,” said Blake.

“The post-WWI era was also a time of breaking boundaries and enjoying life, so the atmosphere of going to clubs (like Maxim's in the operetta) and living the life of a playboy like the main character Danilo, was a good parallel.”

To achieve this 1920s look, Taylor Webster, CSU’s master carpenter and theatre program alumna, worked closely with Blake.

“Bringing a design to life is always a highly collaborative process,” said Webster. “I started by working with Blake and the rest of the design team to create the look and feel of the show in a conceptual sense, and together we made sure that the visual and thematic needs as well as the practical staging needs were met by the scenic design concept.”The 'green cast' performing 'The Merry Widow.' Image by CSU Photography.

Set designer: 'What inspired me'

Webster got her inspiration for the set from the “opulence and decadence of the 1920s, specifically the height of the Art Deco period in Paris.” She drew from hotel lobby architecture, images from film sets, architectural details and motifs, and postcards from the era.

Once Webster finished the design, she began working with theatre students to construct the set. Theatre will also design costumes and lighting for the production.

An effervescent performance

The collaboration doesn’t end there; the dance program at CSU is also contributing to the production by helping to choreograph the show’s many dance sequences.

All of these efforts will come to fruition for an effervescent performance that will leave audiences whistling tunes such as “The Merry Widow Waltz” and the hauntingly beautiful “Vilja.”

“It's great entertainment,” said Blake. “The set and costumes are beautiful, the singing and dancing are exciting, and the orchestra is wonderful!”

Come join us for a night of elegant ladies, eligible bachelors, can-can dancers, and ever-flowing champagne.

Charles and Reta Ralph Opera Center

The Charles and Reta Ralph Opera Center, housed at the state-of-the-art University Center for the Arts, is named in honor of Charles and Reta Ralph in recognition of their generous and continuing support of opera at Colorado State University.  

The Ralph’s benevolence provides programmatic support and professional development opportunities, as well as a broad scholarship support system for students studying vocal performance. Auditions for the Charles and Reta Ralph Opera Center are held at the beginning of each semester and are open to all CSU students.

The University Center for the Arts at Colorado State University provides an enriched venue in which the study and practice of Art, Dance, Music and Theatre are nurtured and sustained by building the skills and knowledge needed by future generations of arts professionals to become contributors to the essential vitality of our culture and society.

For more information, visit

Contact: Carrie Care
Phone: (970) 491-5891