NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - Stephen F. Austin State University's upcoming production of Johann Strauss II's operetta "Die Fledermaus" March 31 through April 2 provides practical experience for over 70 music students and an opportunity for East Texans to attend a comedic opera that has remained popular since its 1874 premier.

"Because an opera singer must juggle up to 40 different cognitive activities at one time (singing beautifully-on pitch and in time using understandable diction; watching the conductor; acting/interacting with fellow performers; dealing with unusual costumes, shoes, wigs and hats; and all the unexpected things that occur in a live performance, for example), it is crucial that we provide our students roles in full operatic productions," said Dr. Deborah Dalton, SFA professor of music and the operetta's stage director.

The orchestral students, too, benefit from preparing and performing a full operatic score, Dalton added. "The old adage, 'There is no better teacher than experience,' is certainly true."

While some East Texans may hesitate to attend an opera because they regard the genre as boring and inaccessible, Dalton is quick to negate that notion. "This show is all about fun. The central action is carried out at a ball given by a Russian prince whose philosophy is 'Do as you please.'"

SFA's production will be sung in English, and supertitles will be projected above the stage for the audience members who would like to read the lyrics while they are being sung.

"For those people who have never been to an opera before, this is the one to attend," said Dalton. "The plot, which revolves around an elaborate practical joke, is easy to understand, and the exceptionally beautiful music sparkles like the plot's ever-present champagne."

"Die Fledermaus" is a joint production of the SFA College of Fine Arts, School of Music and University Series. It will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, through Saturday, April 2, in W.M. Turner Auditorium.

Prior to Thursday's opening night performance, Dalton will give a brief, informative talk at 7 p.m. in Griffith Gallery, which is located across the hall from Turner Auditorium in the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2222 Alumni Dr.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for seniors and $6 for students. For tickets or more information, please go to or call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS.