Show Photographs

28th Festival Season - 2006

The Queen's Lace Handkerchief

By: Johann Strauss
Premiere: Theatre an der Wien, Vienna, October 1, 1880
Performance Dates:
  • July 21st, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • July 27th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • August 1st, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • August 6th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • August 9th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • August 12th, 2006 - 2:00pm

The Queen's Lace Handkerchief is a rare, delightful work composed by "waltz king," Johann Strauss. The story centers in a supposed adventure of the poet Cervantes. The under-aged King of Portugal is kept away from both affairs of state and from his young Queen by the regent, Villalobos, who is plotting a coup, but the poet Cervantes and his sweetheart Irene, first lady to the queen, work together to further the interest of the young rulers. Villalobos tries to stir up discord between the King and Queen, who are really too young to be very wise, for the King has seen but nineteen years and the Queen but seventeen. Through various irregularities, the King showers attention on the charming Irene, who is too true to the Queen and her loving Cervantes to accept them. Cervantes is appointed the Queen's reader, and her neglected heart conceives a sentiment for him, which is chiefly gratitude for his genuine friendship and sympathy. As she is an impulsive young woman, she writes on her lace handkerchief: "A Queen loves you, though you are not a King," and hands it to him in a manuscript of Don Quixote. The manuscript is seized, and Villalobos uses the innocently inscribed handkerchief in an attempt to turn the King against his wife and Cervantes, thus regaining his power. With a bit of disguise and a few opportune explanations, the act ends happily.

This romantic tale with its sprightly music was, in its day, one of the most popular Strauss operettas. Musical numbers include the original vocal version of Roses from the South, one of Strauss' most enduring and beloved waltzes; the king's truffle song and his duet with the premier in praise of the oysters; and a second-act finale containing some of the most glorious ensemble music in all of operetta. Cervantes sings Once Sat a Youth So Fair and Pensive, and In the Night His Zither Holding is sung by Sancho. Don't miss the opportunity to see this rare work.

Ohio Light Opera Brings Back 'The Queen's Lace Handkerchief'

Johann Strauss' production to be staged for the first time in more than a century

WOOSTER, Ohio "The Waltz King," a.k.a Johann Strauss, comes to The College of Wooster as Julie Wright Costa dusts off an old classic and directs "The Queen's Lace Handkerchief" at Freedlander Theatre (329 E. University St.) on Thursday, July 21, at 2 p.m. in the last of seven Ohio Light Opera productions to open this summer.

"Part of our mission is to have a Viennese representation," said OLO Artistic Director Steven Daigle. "The Queen's Lace Handkerchief" is an unknown Viennese work and hasn't been done in the United States in 100 years." The last performance was May of 1900 by the Southwell Opera Company in Honolulu.

"Queen's Lace Handkerchief," or "Das Spitzentuch Der Königin," premiered Oct. 1, 1880 at Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria. When it came to the United States, it was an instant success, according to Daigle. "Queen's Lace was the most popular Strauss in pre-20th century America," he said. "This operetta in three acts was more popular at the time than 'Die Fledermaus.'"

The version of "Queen's Lace Handkerchief" that OLO will be performing is the popular American translation of Strauss' original. "The translation is true to the original work but with a 1900 American taste," said Daigle, who added that the translation doesn't affect the music, rather it is just a translation of the words, and the lyrics remain in the same place as corresponding to the notes. "Composers that survive the test of time give a flavor to their music that still identifies their art," he said. "It's the music that survives."

This is another resurrection of a show that was hard to find, according to Daigle, who is credited as the author of the new performance edition and historical reconstruction. "The orchestra parts were given to us from Strauss' original manuscripts," said Daigle, who obtained the manuscripts through an OLO patron connection to the European Strauss Society. The libretto was more difficult to attain. He had to go to the University of Wisconsin's archives and reconstruct the libretto from four versions.

Strauss came from a family of four generations of famous musicians. His father and brothers were composers but never achieved the same level of success as Strauss, who is credited for transforming the waltz from a peasant's dance to the most popular dance at the Habsburg royal court. Audiences around the world associate the name Strauss with his 470 dance pieces and the most famous of all waltzes, "The Blue Danube". He began experimenting with operetta on the advice of his first wife, Henrietta Treffz, and wrote 17 during his career. Most famous were "Die Fledermaus" (1874), "Eine Nacht in Venedig" (1883), and "Der Zigeunerbaron" (1885). The original vocal version of Strauss' second most famous waltz, "Roses from the South" is featured in OLO's "Queen's Lace Handkerchief" production.

Far from Vienna, "The Queen's Lace Handkerchief" is set in Portugal. Count Villalobos, regent to the King of Portugal, is plotting a coup to unseat the nave Royal. Only the poet Cervantes and his sweetheart Donna Irene can stop him and save the throne. Director Julie Wright Costa plays the Queen of Portugal who falls for the poet Cervantes, played by Jack Beetle. Robin DeLeon plays Cervantes' love interest and the Queen's first lady in waiting, Donna Irene. Gary Moss is the King Of Portugal with Brian Tanner playing Count Villalobos. Spiro Matsos, a longtime supporter of Ohio Light Opera and The College of Wooster, plays the cook. The walls of his downtown Wooster restaurant are covered with autographed photographs from previous seasons. He also supports the company on the stage, making a traditional appearance every summer.

Article written by Laura McHugh
Production Team
ConductorJason Altieri
Stage DirectorJulie Wright
ChoreographerCarol Hageman
Set DesignerKirk Domer
Costume DesignerDaniel Jones
Lighting DesignerShannon Schweitzer
The King of PortugalGary Moss
The Queen of PortugalJulie Wright
Donna Irene, the Queen's Confidante and First Lady in WaitingRobin DeLeon
Marquise de Villareal, Mistress of CeremoniesClaire Maloney
Cervantes, a PoetJack Beetle
Count Villalobos, Prime Minister and Head of the RegencyBrian Tanner
Don Sancho de la Avellando, Minister of Public InstructionGrant Knox
Don Quixote de la Mancha y Villareal, Minister of WarKevin Blickfeldt
Four Ministers of the Regency
Duke of Feria, Minister of JusticeAnthony Buck
Count San Gregorio, Minister of InteriorMichael Denos
Count Ermos, Minister of NavyNicholas Hartley
Don Diego de Barados, Minister of PolicePeter Bush
Dance MasterJacob Allen
CookSpiro Matsos
Antonio, a BrigandCory Clines
Women of the Ensemble: Sarah Asmar, Donata Cucinotta, Robin DeLeon, Stina Marie Eberhardt, Kemper LeCroy Florin, Anne Marie Frohnmayer, Sara Gartland, Erin Jackson-Legris, Amanda Kingston, Claire Maloney, Jessie Wright Martin, Jill Anna Ponasik, Maren Tenney and Julie Wright.
Men of the Ensemble: Jacob Allen, Jack Beetle, Kevin Blickfeldt, Anthony Buck, Peter Bush, Cory Clines, Michael Denos, Nicholas Hartley, Grant Knox, David Krohn, Adam Lloyd, Spiro Matsos, Gary Moss, Benjamin Robinson, Brian Tanner and Joseph Valone.