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A musical comedy, operatic style

'The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein' opens Friday at Roussel Hall.

It’s not often that New Orleans sees any opera bouffa, that form of comic opera that’s a bit zany, with wonderful music and always, yes always, a happy ending. But this weekend, the Loyola University Opera is presenting a new production of one of the livelier ones: The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein by the great French composer Jacques Offenbach.

Premiered in Paris in 1867, this operetta was, at that time, a controversial burlesque of the German military with all its pompous strutting around. Loyola’s production of this classic satire is the first local revival of this comic “anti-war” classic since it was first performed at the French Opera House in New Orleans more than 120 years ago.

“I always look at our group of students here and try to think of how we can use them best,” says music director and conductor Carol Rausch. “Since we are fortunate to have a couple of wonderful mezzo sopranos this year, and the title role for this operetta requires that, we said let’s do something that’s totally silly and lots of fun.”

Rausch and New York stage director and choreographer Bill Fabris have chosen to have this three-act work of musical froth performed in English instead of its original French. “We also set it in the World War I era and costumed it accordingly,” Rausch says.

Accompanying the talented student performers will be the Loyola orchestra, a combination of accomplished student instrumentalists and faculty, many of whom are members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein will be performed only twice: Friday, January 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, January 29 at 3 p.m. in the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall, in the Communications/Music Complex on Loyola’s Main Campus. For ticket information visit or call 504-865-2074.


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