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Folks Operetta continues its 2018- 2019 season of the Reclaimed Voices Series with a concert celebration of Paul Ábrahám's jazz operettas in Goodbye Berlin, Aloha Hawaii! This multimedia concert, written by Hersh Glagov and Gerald Frantzen, will take place at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, Performance Penthouse, 915 E. 60th St., Chicago, on Sunday, April 14, at 2 p.m. Directed by Gerald Frantzen, Goodbye Berlin, Aloha Hawaii! Features four singers, an instrumental ensemble, narration, and a multimedia presentation. Tickets are $35. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit

As part of Folks Operetta's Reclaimed Voices series, the company brings audiences an original concert exploring the jazz operettas of Paul Ábrahám. Composer Paul Abrahám (1892-1960) combined operetta with jazz, and the result was a string of hugely popular shows: Viktoria and her Hussar (1930); The Flower of Hawaii (1931); and Ball at the Savoy (1932). Ábrahám's unique blend of European waltzes and American jazz idioms changed the course of operetta and will present audiences with a musical experience like none other.

Paul Ábrahám's rise to fame and fortune was swift. Between 1929 and 1932, while living and working in Berlin, he wrote three of the most successful operettas of all time, as well as numerous film scores and popular songs. His music was heavily influenced by the touring African-American jazz bands that had taken Berlin, and the rest of Europe, by storm. As a Jewish composer with a passion for jazz, he embodied everything the Nazis hated. When they came to power in 1933, he had to flee the country overnight. He continued to work in Vienna and Budapest, composing three more operettas. One of the them, a parody of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was one of the first sports operetta ever written and featured an entire soccer team! With the annexation of Austria, the rise of fascism in Hungary, and the threat of war, he finally was compelled to leave for America. Like many other exiles, Ábrahám had trouble finding meaningful work in his new country. Suddenly impoverished, out of work and unknown, he succumbed to serious mental health problems and spent 10 years in Creedmoor Mental Hospital in Queens, New York. After the war, he returned to Germany, where he reunited with his wife after 17 years apart. He lived in Hamburg, Germany until his death in 1960.

Ábrahám's life was a tragic descent from the pinnacle of success to exile, illness, and obscurity. He took the art form of operetta in a new direction, but his career was permanently disrupted by persecution and war. We are left to ponder what might have been if his art had been allowed to continue and develop without interference.

Performers include singers Alison Kelly, Katherine Petersen, Matthew Carroll and Gerald Frantzen. Anatoliy Torchinskiy accompanies on piano. The show will include video, artwork and photos from the era and narrator telling Ábrahám's unique story.

Gerald Frantzen is the artistic director of Folks Operetta. He has sung with the Lyric Opera of Chicago chorus for nine years, where he made his solo debut in the opera Eugene Onegin (2008). His opera roles include Giove (Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria- NPR broadcast), both Acis and Damon (Acis and Galatea), 2nd Nazarene (Salome) with the Glimmerglass Opera; Ernesto (Don Pasquale) with Natchez Opera; Prunier (La Rondine) with Sarasota Opera; Der Kellner (Arabella) with Santa Fe Opera and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) with Ridge Light Opera.

Frantzen has been a frequent soloist with Handel Week where he has performed two Messiahs and played a leading role in the Chicago premiere of G. F. Handel's Rodelinda and recently played Acis in Acis and Galatea. He was also the tenor soloist in Bach's Magnificat and The Mozart Requiem.

Since 2006 he has translated over 18 different operettas with Folks Operetta dramaturge Hersh Glagov; presenting 15 American premieres. His operetta credits Arizona Lady (2010 U.S. Premiere); The Circus Princess (U.S. premiere); Ball at the Savoy (2014 American premiere); The Girl in the Train (American premiere); Springtime (American premiere); (Peter and Paul in the Land of Nod- American premiere); Thespis (World premiere); Gypsy Love, Yeomen of the Guard; Duchess of Chicago; Pirates of Penzance; The Student Prince; The Merry Widow, The Gondoliers; Song of Norway; as well as Madame Pompadour. In 2013 Frantzen wrote the critically-acclaimed concert "Operetta in Exile" with Glagov.

His international musical theater credits include Jekyll & Hyde in Bremen, Germany; the role of Piangi (The Phantom of the Opera - Hal Prince, director) in Hamburg, Germany and The Russian (Chess) in Bergen, Norway. Regional credits include Dorsey and the Young Confederate Soldier (Parade-which won 8 Jeff Citations), Sir Harry (Once Upon a Mattress), Tony (West Side Story), Baron (Grand Hotel) and Charlie (Brigadoon). He can also be heard with "The Three Waiters," which has won the award for Best Corporate Event over six times.

Film credits include "Return of the Night Porter" as an editor, which won the Grand Prix at the Karlovy Film Festival in Europe. Recordings include John Frantzen Compositions and a musical theater collection called Another Autumn (recorded with Alison Kelly; The Rose of Stambul by Leo Fall on the Naxos Recording Label. Frantzen has also sung with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and The Grant Park chorus.

Folks Operetta is a 501(c)(3) non-profit theater company devoted to the nurturing of live operetta through articulate and Dynamic Productions. In the belief that the arts serve to illuminate the human condition, Folks Operetta is dedicated to the revival and development of operetta, a popular and accessible form of music and theater for general audiences. In particular, the Folks Operetta concentrates on producing both Viennese and American operettas from the early 20th century.

Folks Operetta's continues its 2018- 2019 season of the Reclaimed Voices Series with a concert celebration of Paul Abrahám's jazz operettas inGoodbye Berlin, Aloha Hawaii! This production will take stage at The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, The Penthouse, 915 E. 60thSt., for one-day-only, on Sunday, April 14 at

2 p.m. Folks Operetta's exploration of Paul Abrahám's music is directed by Gerald Frantzen. Tickets are $35. To purchase tickets and access more information, please visit


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