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Opera buffs who read the program notes diligently are aware of Jolly Stewart's tireless work. In addition to coordinating Opera Theatre of Saint Louis' Spring Training program for young students and serving as stage director for the esteemed Union Avenue Opera, Stewart runs Washington University's Opera Department, and in fact cofounded it in 1990 with her husband, John. Mrs. Stewart is retiring with a lavish comic party — an all-star cast of the program's alumni, all now professional opera singers —will perform Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus as her final production at Wash. U. Strauss' opera tells the story of Eisenstein, a wealthy Viennese burgher who dodges jail for one night to attend his friend Falke's midnight ball. Eisenstein lies to his wife about where he's going, and she ends up at the same ball, but disguised. Even worse, Eisenstein hits on her mercilessly while drunk on Champagne. Compounding terrible matters is the fact that Falke is using the party to trap Eisenstein as revenge for Eisenstein's earlier abandonment of a drunken Falke on a city bench late one night as they were heading home from a costume ball; Falke was dressed as a bat, hence the title of the opera, which is German for The Bat. You have two chances to attend the party, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (March 19 and 20), at the Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-935-5566). Tickets are $7 to $18.
Fri., March 19; Sat., March 20, 2010