Light Opera Society has some fun with Strauss comic romp

Gerphil Flores adds star power to Die Fledermaus production

North Shore Light Opera Society performs Die Fledermaus, Presentation House Theatre, Until May 28. For more information visit nslos.com.

Johann Strauss II lived a double life.

His composer father, who would unwittingly bequeath a reputation for crafting glorious waltzes to his son, forbade young Johann from entering the family business.

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Like Vito Corleone after him, the elder Strauss wanted his teenaged son to go legit, which is how Strauss II - future composer of “The Blue Danube” - ended up clerking at a bank.

But when his father led his orchestra, Strauss II studied the violin. There are stories that his mother aided in the deception, possibly recruiting one of the elder Strauss’s musicians to tutor her son.

We can only imagine Strauss II cutting off Berlioz mid-note and stashing his verboten violin behind a wardrobe as his father trudged up the steps of their Vienna home.

Given his history, it’s no surprise the deception and duplicity of Die Fledermaus inspired Strauss II to create one of the western world’s most beloved light operas.

The story of infidelity, guile and disguise is set to take the stage at Presentation House. While Strauss’s music is untouched, the libretto will be translated to English.

That may provide a shock for some, but likely not for television star Gerphil Flores.

Flores’ Christian name comes from the first three letters of Germany, where she was born, and the first four letters of the Philippines, where she was raised.

Conversing via email, Flores recalls the homes of her childhood by their instruments. Hamburg had a piano. Manila a guitar and violin.

Despite soaking up Mozart in Hamburg opera houses, she suggests her environment has “little effect in my character. It is basically my family that influenced me the most.”

Discussing her former student in an interview for the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Music, professor Katherine Molina describes Flores as musically intelligent.

She “intuitively fuses the musical properties of a piece into her interpretation,” she explains.

Flores’ earned a spot on TV show Asia’s Got Talent, which she calls the “biggest break in my career.”

During her performance of “The Impossible Dream,” Flores is perched on a vertigo-inducing platform that might have struck a gold-plated despot as over the top. Despite those stage trappings, Flores’ performance is glorious. But what’s most striking about her rendition of the demanding Man of La Mancha number is her mouth. While some ballad singers stretch their jaw like a python swallowing an antelope, Flores opens her mouth only slightly, like someone apologizing for using the last packet of Sweet’n Low at a coffee shop.

Flores was taught in the McClosky Voice Technique, Molina explains.

One of the technique’s fundamentals is relaxing the muscles in the face, tongue, jaw and throat to allow the larynx to work without strain.

“Mastery of this technique has enabled her to sing seemingly effortlessly. Her voice is very resonant despite of her petite Filipina frame,” Molina says.

At the end of the Asia’s Got Talent performance, which has been viewed more than six million times on YouTube, Flores gives praise to God.

Despite attaining pop star status on the world’s most populous continent, Flores describes herself as a “conservative type,” abstaining from alcohol and bypassing a youthful rebellious stage.

“I don’t go to parties (unless I am invited to sing),” she writes.

Towards the end of her run on Asia’s Got Talent, producer and songwriter David Foster promised her the world would soon know about her.

North Vancouver audiences get that chance through May 28.

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