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Photograph by Luigi Ciuffetelli
www.luigic.com

From left: Kim Doucette, John Dennison
and Phil Doucette star in OperaDelaware’s
“The Gondoliers.”

When a bunch of aristocrats start chatting up the peasants, you know there’s gonna be trouble. People will talk.

Ah, but we love the dirt. And lots of it is expected to pile up in OperaDelaware’s production of “The Gondoliers,” which opens February 15 at The Grand Opera House.

Director Leland Kimball promises to whisk audiences to 19th-century Venice, the setting of the original 1889 production written by satirist W.S. Gilbert and musical genius Arthur Sullivan. There is, of course, a magnificent set, ornate costumes and exuberant choreography. “We weren’t about to set the show in a parking lot in Queens,” Kimball says, “so except for the flock of pigeons, this is the real thing.”

Snobbery and class distinctions are the fulcrum of the story, which is thick with juicy subplots. There’s the young queen engaged to be married but secretly in love with a commoner, two zany gondoliers suddenly catapulted into royalty, and the grand inquisitor, who cavorts around the beauties. Civil unrest ensues. And a chorus of contadines (female peasants), gondoliers, heralds and pages sings arguably the richest choral music Gilbert and Sullivan ever composed.

New to opera? “The Gondoliers” might be the show to try. The libretto is detailed, but OperaDelaware will flash supertitles above the stage to make it easier to follow. The piece is sung in English, and it’s appropriate for all ages. —Maria Hess

One-Two
Delaware isn’t a boxing Mecca. But former IBC Super Middleweight champion Dave Tiberi thinks it will be. Tiberi is co-promoting a championship bout between USBA cruiserweight champ Darnell Wilson and unbeaten B.J. Flores at Dover Downs on February 8, which will air live on ESPN. “This is more than a boxing match,” says Tiberi. “It’s a community event, one you can bring a child to.” Having a fight aired on ESPN garners lots of cred for Delaware. Does that mean the First State will be the next Las Vegas? Time will tell. “I think I’ve gotten lots of media coverage because of my stance on cleaning up the sport,” Tiberi says. Boxing was a dirty business when Tiberi retired in 1992 after two unlicensed judges declared him a loser in his match against James Toney, which, by most accounts, Tiberi should have won. The controversy led to establishment of the American Boxing Commission. Tiberi expects Delaware to have its own boxing commission this year, which could open the door for more big events. This month’s fight is part of the First State Boxing Series, which Tiberi created to feature the region’s best warriors. “This can be a new era for boxing here,” Tiberi says. “Delaware is a major, untapped market.”

Chillin’
There’s still time to register for the annual Lewes Polar Bear Plunge on February 3. Proceeds benefit Special Olympics Delaware. The minimum contribution is $50. You’ll freeze your tootsies off, but you’ll also support 2,700 athletes in Delaware. For 17 years, Delawareans have gathered in the dead of winter to plunge into the Atlantic, and the number of polar bears increases each year. By December, 160 swimmers were enrolled, and Special Olympics staffers expect to shatter last year’s record of 2,672 swimmers. Since its inception, the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge has raised more than $3.4 million. This year’s plungers will rub goose bumps with Blue Rocks mascot Rocky Bluewinkle. The icon will also pose for photos. Swimming in February isn’t as torturous as it sounds. The air is often colder than the water. Last year, the ocean hit 43 degrees while the air temp was 29. Jumping in isn’t the worst part. It’s coming out. But by then, most are laughing off the pain. Register online at www.sode.org, or call 831-4653.

Kiki Berlin calls herself a Scorpio whose “zero tolerance attitude and explosive behavioral patterns have earned her a clear path straight to hell.” Many will dive down that path February 13 at Mojo 13, where Berlin and her Hellcat Girls Burlesque will drop jaws with lots of campy humor and “all things vavavavoom.” No one knows what the Hellcats will do—shows depend on audience reaction. Learn more at www.myspace.com/mojothirteen.

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