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Interview: Anne Wieben of DIE LUSTIGE WITWE, 'THE MERRY WIDOW' at Opera On The Lake

Interview: Anne Wieben of DIE LUSTIGE WITWE, 'THE MERRY WIDOW' at Opera On The Lake

This production plays on July 26th, 27th, and 29th

Opera on the Lake is thrilled to be bringing Franz Lehar's operetta masterpiece to life at the Como Lakeside Pavilion on July 26, 27, and 29, 2022!

Not only will this version have an original English dialogue created by founder and creative director Anne Wieben, but it will also be the debut of a brand new chamber orchestra arrangement done by our conductor, Marco Real d'Arbelles. This is going to be a real Minnesota original- you do not want to miss it!

We chat with Anne Wieben who is the Founder and Creative Director of Opera on the Lake about the opera and the production!

How does it feel to have live audiences and theatres back?
Thrilling! There is nothing quite like the energy of a live show. It really is an energy exchange between the performers and the audience. And opera is really an art form that is best experienced live. We opera singers train for years and years to be able to produce enough sound to be heard over the largest of orchestras. There is nothing quite like it!

What inspired you to create Opera on the Lake? Could you tell us more about this company?
I am a Minnesota girl and an alumna of the University of Minnesota. During my time at the U, I decided to study abroad in Vienna, Austria. I was lucky enough to be accepted to the Vienna Conservatory to do my Masters, and all these years later, I am still in Vienna, working as a professional opera singer.

In my years as a performer, I've been lucky enough to perform on some of Europe's biggest stages. Yet some of the most exciting productions I've ever been a part of were in the most unexpected places: Mozart in a nightclub, a newly composed opera in an old canning factory, operetta at a swimming pool. Opera can happen anywhere, and it is this idea that I want to bring back home to Minnesota in the most Minnesotan way possible; enter Opera on the Lake! Minnesotans love to do everything on the lake, so why not enjoy a world-class opera? Opera on the Lake strives to create an atmosphere where everyone can enjoy themselves, from the most seasoned opera aficionados to those who have never even heard of the art form. We focus on the music and the storytelling-- and on having a good time.

What inspired you to pursue performing?
I really do think it is in my blood! I've always loved singing and acting, ever since I was a little girl. I started playing violin when I was 8 and that awakened my deep love of classical music. I was always involved in choirs, school plays, summer musicals-- anything musical and theatrical! When it came time to choose a career path, I knew I wanted to go into music but wasn't sure in what capacity. I grew up in a small town and had never seen an opera so didn't quite know what it really was. But I took a leap of faith and chose vocal performance at the U of M. And then I saw my first opera: i Capuletti e i Montecchi by Bellini at Minnesota Opera and BOOM. I knew that opera was it. It combined acting, classical music, and the most intense and powerful singing. I was hooked and never looked back!

Do you have a favorite moment or song in the production?
One of the most beautiful moments in the show is the "Vilja Lied". It is a gorgeous folk-like song that the main character sings to a group of party go-ers. The melody is simply divine and the moment is also so intense: the song and her singing of it rekindles some deep feelings for herself and the "one who got away" (who happens to be in the audience as she sings it).

How was working with the cast and the creative team?
I love, love, love my cast! For those who have seen an Opera on the Lake performance before, there will be some familiar faces and voices. I've also brought in a fantastic singer friend of mine with whom I've performed in Vienna. Everyone is so creative and enthusiastic-- and ooh oooh ooh is there some incredible singing!

This year we also have a special treat: our conductor, Marco Real d'Arbelles, is doing an original arrangement of the piece for chamber orchestra. A true world-premiere!
Interview: Anne Wieben of DIE LUSTIGE WITWE, 'THE MERRY WIDOW' at Opera On The Lake

What do you hope the audience takes away from seeing this production?
My sincere hope is that everyone who comes leaves feeling better than when they arrived. This piece is such a delight and the music is absolutely beautiful. We can't wait to share it with the community!

What are your favorite local spots?
I can't leave the Twin Cities without having at least one (or two)pieces of classic vanilla cheesecake from Cafe Latte in St.Paul, a cup of Dunn Brothers coffee, and a juicy lucy from The Nook.

Thank you so much Anne for your time!

For more information and tickets, please click the ticket button link.

Photos courtesy of Anne Wieben

From This Author - Jared Fessler

Jared [He/Him] is originally from Iowa and resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up doing theatre and studied music, dance, and theatre with additional training in BFA musical theatre.

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