By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published May 06, 2016 at 5:03 PM

For an incredible 82 years, the Florentine has been bringing world class opera to Milwaukee audiences. The company will do no differently to close its current season, wrapping up with the funny and delicious "Die Fledermaus," a treat for those who love humor, romance and great singing.

The story in" Die Fledermaus" is the stuff that theatrical farce is made of.

Prone to crossing boundaries in both his private and public life, Gabriel von Eisenstein has recently been sentenced to a fortnight in jail for insulting an officer. Before his pending incarceration, Eisenstein’s friend, Dr. Falke (Baritone Jonathan Beyer, in his Florentine debut), invites him to a grand masquerade ball for a wild evening.

Like her husband, Rosalinde von Eisenstein leads a double life behind closed doors. Most recently, she has been stringing along with the local tenor, Alfred (John Pickle), whose constant singing begins to wear on everyone’s nerves.  The show moves through deceptions, counter deceptions and enough witty banter for a Noel Coward play.

The Metropolitan Opera has had the opera in its repertoire and has a succinct description of the Johann Strauss creation:

"The supreme example of Viennese operetta, 'Die Fledermaus' both defines and transcends that genre. Its story centers on a magnificent masked ball, given by a Russian prince, that brings together all the main characters in various disguises. The three-act journey from boudoir to ballroom to jail provides ample opportunities for farce and humor, but also for genuine human emotion and a surprisingly realistic view of urban life."

Led by John Hoomes, who directed a magnificent production of "Elmer Gantry" with the Florentine in 2010, the production will mark the return of one of the finest performers Milwaukee has ever seen: the multi-talented Bill Theisen. A former artistic director of the Skylight and frequent performer in Door County during the summer, Theisen plays the jailer Frosch, which is a speaking role. But every time he appears on a stage, magic seems to happen.

Beside Thiesen, the cast of singers includes Inna Dukach in her Florentine debut as Rosalinde and Corey McKern as Eisenstein.

Florentine, under General Director William Florescu, has built an impressive reputation among regional opera companies – one that lives up to the legacy as the sixth oldest opera company in the United States.

"'Die Fiedermaus' is consistently chosen as a favorite opera hroughout the world," Florescu said in a press release, "and the vocal, musical and dramatic forces we are assembling for these works promise performances to rival those you can hear and see anywhere in the world."

Hoomes is the Artistic Director and CEO of the Nashville Opera and has a lengthy history with this opera and has spent years developing this production.

"The script for this is one I had worked with before and is put together from a number of different editions I have done," Hoomes told the Wisconsin Gazette in a recent interview.  "There isn’t an official edition of Fledermaus. It changes a good bit depending on the cast, on the direction and on the concept. The dialogue especially can be very different."

Hoomes will be joined by conductor Joseph Rescigno and choreographer James Zager for this performance, which runs May 13 and 15 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

Information on showtimes and tickets is available here.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.