Composer Emmerich Kálmán was a Hungarian Jew who found fame in Vienna
during the 1910s and ’20s with such operettas asDer Zigeunerprimas (The Gypsy Band Leader) and Countess Maritza. Perhaps he sensed that, despite his success, he
would always be a bit of an outsider in the world of Austrian high society
that embraced his music, which distinctively fused elegantly romantic
Viennese waltzes with the csárdás, a robust folk dance whose name
derives from a Hungarian word for “tavern.” One of his most popular works,
the 1915 Die Csárdásfürstin (The Csárdás Princess), recounts the
story of a Hungarian cabaret singer, Sylva, whose romance with a Viennese
aristocrat, Edwin, seems doomed to failure: his stuffy parents forbid their
son from wedding a girl from “the wrong side of the tracks” and have
arranged for him to marry his childhood friend Stasi instead.

Of course, being a Viennese operetta, The Csárdás Princess reaches
a happy ending, with a lot of lively music and dancing along the way.
Kálmán’s lush, tuneful, rhythmically charged score is the main draw in this
revival by Folks Operetta, a local company dedicated to reclaiming the
heritage of Jewish artists who contributed to Viennese operetta’s “Silver
Age.”

The fine singers under Gerald Frantzen’s direction include Katherine
Petersen as Sylva, Jonathan Zeng as Edwin, Emma Sorenson as Stasi, and
William Roberts in the comic role of Sylva’s womanizing manager Boni. The
offstage 25-piece orchestra under conductor Mark A. Taylor’s baton is
splendid, and deserves to be more visible.   v