Poster Design by
Melanie Fabrizius - Graphic Designer Billings
photographs compliments of Keith Woods
Stage Director-Douglas Nagel
Rosalinda von Eisenstein-Susan Gundunas, soprano
Gabriel von Eisenstein-Daniel Ebbers, baritone
Prince Orlovsky-Victoria Hart, contralto
Adele-Alissa Rose, soprano
Alfred-Gennard Lombardozzi, tenor
Dr. Falke-Kelly Markgraf, baritone
Frank-Bret Weston, baritone
Ida-Ashley Miller, soprano
Dr. Blind-Chris Johnson, baritone
Frosch-TBA, speaking/acting role
Stage Manager-Amy Logan
Chorus Masters-Kevin Schweigert
Rehearsal Pianist-Sandi Rabas
Rimrock Opera presents Strauss' 'Die Fledermaus'
JACI WEBB Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Thursday,
March 16, 2006 11:00 pm
When Rimrock Opera founder Doug Nagel set out to
produce "Die Fledermaus," he was looking for a
"We had three tragedies in a
row; every leading lady in the last three
croaked and I thought 'It's time for a lighter
opera,' " Nagel said. "I picked the English
translation by Marcie Stapp because the dialogue
is so funny."
Nagel, who serves as stage
director for the opera, pulled in some Billings
natives to perform in the opera, including tenor
Gennard Lombardozzi, a West High graduate, in
the role of Alfred and soprano Alissa Rose, a
Senior High graduate, in the role of Adele.
Nagel also asked longtime music teacher and
opera performer Edward Harris to write a verse
for one of the songs.
"We regionalized it
with Edward Harris's sparkling verse that talks
about Montana's wide-open spaces; it's very
funny," Nagel said.
The other strength of
this German opera, which will be sung in
English, is the familiar music by Johann
"Everybody has heard of the 'Blue
Danube Waltz;' it's such beautiful music," Nagel
Valery Ryvkin conducts and Susan
Wadsworth is orchestra manager. Ryvkin is
artistic director of the Santa Barbara Opera and
Greensboro Opera Company and has conducted
previous operas for the Rimrock Opera Company.
Soprano Susan Gundunas plays Rosalinda von
Eisenstein and tenor Daniel Ebbers plays her
husband, Gabriel von Eisenstein. Contralto
Victoria Hart, a specialist in character and
comedic roles, plays Prince Orlovsky and
baritone Kelly Markgraf plays Dr. Falke. Also
performing are Bret Weston, Nick L. Johnson and
Ashley Miller. Venture Theatre's Mace Archer has
a walk-on comic role as Frosch, the jailer, and
Chris Montague of Montague's Jewelers will play
"Die Fledermaus," which translates to
"flying mouse," recreates colorful scenes of
late 19th century Vienna. Strauss became the
most popular of all waltz composers and was best
known for "Die Fledermaus." Even his harshest
critics were impressed with this spirited opera
that helped ease the tension of the times. And
in 1899 when Strauss died of pneumonia at the
age of 74, one supporter wrote, "Johann's demise
signifies the end of happy times in Vienna."
The opera opens with Gabriel von Eisenstein
being sentenced to prison for eight days for
using abusive language to a policeman. As he and
his wife prepare him for prison, his good friend
Dr. Falke arrives to talk him into attending a
costume party. Von Eisenstein decides to
postpone his surrender to the authorities until
the next day so that he can enjoy a night of
glorious revelry, wine, women and song.
Falke spends the rest of the opera trying to get
even with von Eisenstein for abandoning him in a
park after the costume party. Falke wakes up the
next morning still in his bat costume and the
whole city ends up calling him "Dr. Bat."
DAVID GRUBBS/Gazette Staff
left, in the role of Rosalinde, and Alissa Rose,
as Adele, will perform in Rimrock Opera
Company's production of "Die Fledermaus."
Gazette photo by David Grubbs.
Rose's vocal talents to grace both ROC, Chorale
JACI WEBB Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Thursday,
March 16, 2006 11:00 pm
Alissa Rose said she knew she was home again
when someone recognized her at last weekend's
"It was someone I had gone to
grade school with," Rose said. Before the month
is over, several thousand Billings folks will
get even more acquainted with Rose when she
plays two big roles in major productions.
Saturday night, Rose will debut as a vocal
soloist with the Billings Symphony Orchestra and
Chorale when they perform Haydn's "The
Creation," and next weekend, the Billings native
will perform her third opera with the Rimrock
Preparing for two major roles
simultaneously is nothing new to Rose, who once
performed "The Creation" the week after she
performed in "Le Nozze di Figaro."
to be careful not to overdo," she said. "I'll do
marking in rehearsals where you don't sing with
your full voice or you sing an octave lower."
Rose said she already had a role in "Die
Fledermaus" when she auditioned as a soloist in
"The Creation." When she discovered the
performances were a week apart, she hesitated,
but only briefly.
"It's always fun to sing
for the hometown audience," Rose said. "People
here still remember when I played Annie at BST
when I was 13 or 14."
These days, Rose is
more likely to be performing opera than musical
comedies. She's traveled all over the world to
sing opera, including roles in "Carmen" and "Die
Zauberflote." In Billings, she has performed as
Gretel in "Hansel and Gretel" and as a shepherd
boy in "Tosca." Her role as the maid Adele in
"Die Fledermaus" is the first adult role she's
landed in Billings. At 30, she still looks and
sings like a young girl — a gift, she calls it.
"It's nice that my voice fits my face," she
Rose began as a French horn player and
made her initial debut with the Billings
Symphony Orchestra as a teenage horn player. Her
first year in college, she switched to voice and
now she's pursuing a doctorate in voice at the
University of Michigan. Rose made her first
opera recording in January performing in "Signor
Deluso" by Thomas Pasatieri. The recording will
be released this summer.
'Die Fledermaus' a joy to see
WEBB Of The Gazette Staff | Posted:
Saturday, March 25, 2006 11:00 pm
Revenge is a powerful force.
It can turn old
friends into conniving con men and their
victims into blubbering fools. We sense its
tug almost immediately in Rimrock Opera
Company's production of Johann Strauss'
operetta "Die Fledermaus." And by the final
act Friday night, the intricacies of one
man's scheme to get even became so involved
and amusing, it felt as if we'd all signed
on as accomplices.
artistic director, Douglas Nagel, said he
chose a lighter opera after the last three
tragedies in which the leading ladies
croaked. This operetta finishes with the
entire cast still breathing.
standout performances included local
baritone Bret Weston as Frank, the prison
warden, and Billings natives Alissa Rose as
the chamber maid and Gennard Lombardozzi as
Alfred. Lombardozzi was as much fun to
watch, slinking around the stage as
Rosalinda's smarmy former lover Alfred, as
he was to listen to.
"If only he wouldn't
sing," Rosalinda tells us as she struggles
to keep her distance from Alfred. "It's bad
enough that he speaks French."
portrayal of the cunning chamber maid who
seeks higher standing in the world is brash
in all the right places. She has some of the
wittiest lyrics in this show, and she nails
them one ridiculous rhyme after another.
We've come to expect a polished performance
from the Rimrock Opera Company set off by
flashy costumes and extravagant sets. (In
this opera, the sets were flown in from New
York and the costumes from Utah). But Nagel
went beyond the usual, commissioning
longtime opera performer Edward Harris to
write Montana-inspired lyrics in a piece
sung by Prince Orlofsky (played by contralto
Victoria Hart) in Act II.
off with references to Rocky Mountain
oysters and Montanans' propensity for
despising taxes and laws.
Valery Rynkin, "Die Fledermaus" features
soprano Susan Gundunas as Rosalinda, tenor
Daniel Ebbers as her husband Gabriel, and
baritone Kelly Margraf as Dr. Falke. All
displayed versatility as comic actors and
The physical humor
intensified in the final act, especially
when Venture Theatre Executive Director Mace
Archer took on his first opera role as the
drunken prison guard. Improvising as he
went, he punched up the role with his
three-hour production there is, of course,
dancing. After all, Strauss is remembered as
the waltz king. But my favorite dance
sequences weren't the ballroom scenes with
serene waltzes, but the quirky trios of
leg-kicking characters belting out their
convoluted state of affairs.
Fledermaus at Aberta Bair Theater in
Billings Fri., March 24, 2006.
Rimrock Opera Company. All rights