Lithuanians in the news
2nd December, 2005
The Opera "The Merry Wives of Windsor" produced by Dr. Ron Popenhagen
"The Merry Wives of Windsor" performed by the
Rockdale Opera Company, produced by Ron Popenhagen
The wonderful performance last month of Nicolai’s opera "The Merry Wives of Windsor" by the Rockdale Opera Company was produced by Dr. Ron Popenhagen, a member of the Sydney Australian Lithuanian Community. Dr. Ron Popenhagen, "a specialist in actor training, performance techniques for singers and world mask performance", has staged many productions overseas and in Sydney. His first production with the Rockdale Opera Company of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" was performed at the Rockdale Town Hall on November 19-20 and 26-27, 2005. The comic - fantastic opera is set in Windsor, England, in the late summer of 1600. It is based on William Shakespeare’s comedy of the same name. The German composer Otto Nicolai (1810-1849) composed the music for the opera, while the German libretto by Salomon Hermann Mosenthal was translated and adapted by Ron Popenhagen especially for this performance.
Dr. Ron Popenhagen
The longish opera has three acts and seven scenes. The director had to overcome the difficulty of artistically managing ten soloists, a choir of fifteen male and female singers, as well as a number of extras on a stage of limited dimensions. Due to his ingenuity, the scenes and characters were well "choreographed" and overcrowding of the stage was avoided.
It was pleasing to hear the professional playing of the orchestra, the high standard vocal renditions and to see the competent acting of the cast. Among the actors was the director’s son, Darius Popenhagen, who is apparently following in his parents’ footsteps. (We should also note that Darius has contributed many of the fun illustrations for the 24 Lithuanian Language Lessons on this website). Deborah Johnson (Mrs Page), Murray Dahm (Falstaff), Claire Egan (Anne Page) and Peter Hunt (Mr Page) are soloists with fine vocal and acting abilities. It was a pleasure to listen to their well trained, mellow, clear voices and to watch their professional acting ability.
The highlight of the opera was, without any doubt, the forest scene in the third act. Ron Popenhagen’s artistic masks, the attractive dance sequences and the crowd’s well coordinated, humorous teasing and intimidation of Falstaff were a joyful end to a good performance at the Rockdale Town Hall.

Isolde Poþelaitë-Davis AM