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The Sunday Opera: Frank Loesser's "The Most Happy Fella"

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Join us as we head to the Napa Valley on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/12 3:00 p.m.) and a piece that was said to be on the “razor’s edge between musical and opera,” Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella.”  We thought that something happy and uplifting might be in the cards to help lift some spirits during this incredibly uncertain and unnerving time, and this show fills that bill nicely.  Loesser, who is best known for his beloved “Guys and Dolls,” based this work on Sidney Howard’s play “They Knew What They Wanted,” but he focused his script on two love stories.  

The first is an older Italian émigré  named Tony (Robert Weede) who owns a vineyard in the Napa Valley.  Tony decides he wants to get married and falls in love with a waitress named Amy (Jo Sullivan) whom he doesn’t really know but to whom he leaves an amethyst stick-pin as a token of his affections with a note.  They correspond and eventually fall in love though those letters, but when Tony sends Amy, whom he calls Rosabella, a picture of his foreman Joe (Art Lund) instead of his own, complications ensue when Amy quits her waitressing job in San Francisco to marry Tony.  The second love story features Amy’s friend Cleo (Susan Johnson) whom Tony hires so that Amy will have company.  Cleo falls in love with the frustratingly complacent Herman (Shorty Long), another vineyard worker.   After some trials, both couples come to very happy endings.  We’ll continue our afternoon of happy escapism with a ballet score by Oscar winner Stephen Warbeck that will take all of us to Never Land with "Peter Pan" and the Lost Boys.