• America’s jazz age meets the Viennese waltz

About 15 years ago, Philip Kraus, cofounder of Light Opera Works in Evanston, was sifting through the Northwestern University music library when he stumbled upon a 1928 Hungarian operetta titled The Duchess of Chicago. Kraus had never heard of the operetta composed by Emmerich Kalman, but he liked it so much that he decided to produce the first English translation. Kraus, who wrote the book, brought on Gregg Opelka, composer, playwright, and music director of Tommy Guns Chicago, to write the lyrics. And in 1998, Light Opera Works produced the first English production of The Duchess of Chicago. Now Opelka is on his way to Yekaterinburg, Russia, a city of three million, two hours east of Moscow by plane. There he will once again take on the role of musical director for a production of The Duchess of Chicago at the Sverdlovsk State Academic Musical Comedy Theater.