Wednesday June 20 3:01 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan



The regular performance schedule is Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors (65 years and older) and $25 for students (with student ID). For tickets and more information, please visit

As part of Folks Operetta’s Reclaimed Voices Series, the company brings audiences Emmerich Kálmán’s operetta The Csárdás Princess. Kálmán’s mastery of the Viennese waltz and of the music of his native Hungary have made this show an enduring favorite in Europe. The story follows the ups and downs of the unlikely love affair between an aspiring young singer from the provinces and the scion of a wealthy Viennese family. Kálmán, as an assimilated Hungarian Jew living in Vienna, would have been well aware of the pitfalls of navigating the upper echelons of Viennese society. The Csárdás Princess, which takes aim at the rigid class divisions of Kálmán’s time, resonates in our own. Critics consider The Csárdás Princess to be Kálmán’s masterpiece.

Written in 1915, the show played on Broadway under the title The Riviera Girl in 1917 – just as the U.S. was entering “The War to End All Wars.” Broadway would not prove to be the boon that Kálmán had been seeking as it ran for only 78 performances. P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, who were responsible for The Riviera Girl’s book and lyrics, admitted that the fault lay with them, not with Kálmán. Wodehouse later wrote that “the Kálmán score was not only the best that gifted Hungarian ever wrote, but about the best anybody ever wrote.” With America’s entry into the War, anti-German sentiment was high, precluding more performances of the show. It would not be performed again in this country until 1932, when it was given at the St. Louis Municipal Opera and warmly received.

The Second World War would take a tremendous toll on Kálmán. Although he managed to escape, first to France and then to America, many of his relatives died at the hands of the Nazis. Settling in California, Kálmán suffered the indignity of having his music declared “degenerate” by the Nazis while finding himself in a strange country with no prospect of work. He tried writing film scores, but the industry proved to be a hard fit. He died in 1953, leaving his last show Arizona Lady, an homage to his adopted country, unfinished. (Folks Operetta gave the U.S. premiere in 2010.)

Performers include: Robert Morrissey, Rosalind Hurwitz, Jonathan Zeng, Emma Sorenson, Lani Stait, William Roberts, Bill Chamberlain, Athena Kopulos, Alexandra Kassouf, Katherine Peterson, Laura Martino, Claire Lillig, Michael Rawls, Dennis Kalup, Nick Cuellar and Omar Mulero.

Production team includes: Mark Taylor, conductor; Gerald Frantzen, director; Eric Luchen, set designer; Erik Barry, lighting director; Patti Roeder, costumer designer and Josh Prisching, technical director.


Gerald Frantzen is the artistic director of Folks Operetta. He has sung with the Lyric Opera of Chicago chorus for 9 years, where he made his solo debut in the opera Eugene Onegin (2008). His opera roles include Giove (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria- NPR broadcast), Damon (Acis and Galatea), 2nd Nazarene (Salome) with the Glimmerglass Opera; Ernesto (Don Pasquale) with Natchez Opera; Prunier (La Rondine) with Sarasota Opera; Der Kellner (Arabella) with Santa Fe Opera and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) with Ridge Light Opera.

Frantzen has been a frequent soloist with Handel Week where he has performed two Messiahs and played a leading role in the Chicago premiere of G. F. Handel’s Rodelinda. He was also the tenor soloist in Bach’s Magnificat and The Mozart Requiem.

Since 2006 he has translated over 17 different operettas with Folks Operetta dramaturge Hersh Glagov; presenting 15 American premieres. His operetta credits Arizona Lady (2010 U.S. Premiere); The Circus Princess (U.S. premiere); Ball at the Savoy (2014 American premiere); The Girl in the Train (American premiere); Springtime (American premiere); (Peter and Paul in the Land of Nod- American premiere); Thespis (World premiere); Gypsy Love, Yeomen of the Guard; Duchess of Chicago; Pirates of Penzance; The Student Prince; The Merry Widow, The Gondoliers; Song of Norway; as well as Madame Pompadour. In 2013 Frantzen wrote the critically-acclaimed concert “Operetta in Exile” with Glagov.

His international musical theater credits include Jekyll & Hyde in Bremen, Germany; the role of Piangi (The Phantom of the Opera – Hal Prince, director) in Hamburg, Germany and The Russian (Chess) in Bergen, Norway. Regional credits include Dorsey and the Young Confederate Soldier (Parade-which won 8 Jeff Citations), Sir Harry (Once Upon a Mattress), Tony (West Side Story), Baron (Grand Hotel) and Charlie (Brigadoon). He can also be heard with “The Three Waiters,” which has won the award for Best Corporate Event over six times.

Film credits include “Return of the Night Porter” as an editor, which won the Grand Prix at the Karlovy Film Festival in Europe. Recordings include John Frantzen Compositions and a musical theater collection called Another Autumn (recorded with Alison Kelly; The Rose of Stambul by Leo Fall on the Naxos Recording Label. Frantzen has also sung with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and The Grant Park chorus.

ABOUT Mark Taylor, Conductor

Mark A. Taylor is a freelance conductor, educator and performer in demand throughout the Great Lakes region. He is the music director of the two-time national champion (NABBA, Third Section) Milwaukee Festival Brass. He is also the music director for the Waukegan Band Foundation. Dr. Taylor served five years as director of bands and coordinator of ensembles at Loyola University Chicago and was a member of the music education faculty for the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Dr. Taylor holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame (BA), Northwestern University (MMus), and the University of North Texas (DMA).


Folks Operetta is a 501(c)(3) non-profit theater company devoted to the nurturing of live operetta through articulate and dynamic productions. In the belief that the arts serve to illuminate the human condition, Folks Operetta is dedicated to the revival and development of operetta, a popular and accessible form of music and theater for general audiences. In particular, the Folks Operetta concentrates on producing both Viennese and American operettas from the early 20th century.

Folks Operetta’s 2018 season kicks off with Emmerich Kálmán’s operetta The Csárdás Princess, July 7 – 22, playing at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Based on the book written by Leo Stein and Bela Jenbach with music by Emmerich Kálmán and an English translation by Hersh Glagov and Gerald Frantzen. The Folks Operetta version is directed by Gerald Frantzen and conducted by Mark Taylor. Opening night is Saturday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m. The regular performance schedule is Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at

2 p.m. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors (65 years and older) and $25 for students (with student ID). For tickets and more information, please visit