LOVE CAN’T HIDE
BEHIND PAPER AND PEN
Another day in the local perfume shop, circa 1930. Two clerks hate each other, not knowing that they are secret pen pals on their way to falling in love. Two other clerks are having an affair, but one of them is not playing by the rules. As fall gives way to winter, will love prevail?
With its sparkling score, witty lyrics, and sophisticated story, She Loves Me is the perfect romantic comedy.
Brighten up winter with some happily-ever-after!
She Loves Me
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Book by Joe Masteroff
Based on a play by Miklós László
Premiered 23 April 1963, Eugene O’Neill Theatre, New York City
Madison Opera premiere
On a beautiful summer day, the employees of Maraczek’s Parfumerie arrive at work. Working at the shop are Ladislav Sipos, a salesman with a family; teenage delivery boy Arpad Laszlo; Ilona Ritter, who is having an affair with Steven Kodaly; and Georg Nowack, the assistant manager.
Georg has been exchanging letters with an anonymous woman he knows only as “Dear Friend,” and he shares today’s romantic letter with Sipos. Mr. Maraczek advises Georg to get married and recalls being a bachelor.
Arpad stocks the shelves with a new musical cigarette case that Mr. Maraczek insists will sell rapidly. A young woman named Amalia Balash enters, hoping to obtain a job at the Parfumerie. When Georg tells her they are not hiring, she takes one of the cigarette cases and sells it to a customer. Mr. Maraczek is impressed and immediately hires her.
As summer turns into autumn and then early winter, tension grows in the shop. Ilona and Kodaly are at odds, Mr. Maraczek is increasingly short-tempered with Georg, and Georg and Amalia bicker constantly. Georg finds solace in his anonymous romantic pen pal, not suspecting that his correspondent is none other than Amalia. Their colleagues observe their bickering, and Sipos explains to Arpad that they argue because they unknowingly like each other very much. Arpad suggests they tell Georg and Amalia this, and Sipos retorts that they’d never believe it.
Finally, in early December, the two “Dear Friends” arrange to meet in person. In one part of the shop, Georg tells Sipos that he will be meeting his “dear friend” that evening. In the storeroom, Amalia explains to Ilona that even though she has not met her “dear friend” yet, she knows him very well from his letters.
Mr. Maraczek and Georg argue, and when it becomes obvious that Maraczek is about to fire Georg, Sipos knocks over some merchandise to distract him. When Mr. Maraczek leaves, Sipos tells Georg that no replacement would treat him as well as Georg does. Mr. Maraczek insists that everyone stay late to decorate for Christmas, but Amalia says she must leave early for her date. Georg asks to leave, too, but Mr. Maraczek refuses to let him go, so Georg angrily quits.
Kodaly romances Ilona, only to break their date at the last minute. Ilona angrily declares that she will never fall for a man like him again.
Mr. Maraczek’s private investigator tells him that Kodaly is having an affair with his wife. Maraczek had assumed it was Georg. The investigator leaves, and Maraczek’s wife calls to say she’ll be out late. Maraczek points a gun at his head and pulls the trigger as Arpad enters the shop.
In the Cafe Imperiale, Amalia waits with a copy of Anna Karenina and a rose, so her “dear friend” will recognize her. Georg and Sipos enter and are shocked to realize that Amalia is Georg’s date; however, Amalia does not know Georg is her “dear friend.” Georg sits at Amalia’s table and mocks her. They argue, and Georg leaves. As the cafe closes, Amalia is left waiting for her “dear friend.”
The next day, Arpad visits Mr. Maraczek in the hospital and begs to be promoted to sales clerk. Georg also stops by; Mr. Maraczek apologizes and asks him to return to his job. Mr. Maraczek tells Georg to fire Kodaly and mentions that Amalia has called in sick.
Worried about Amalia, Georg visits her at her apartment. She fears he has come to spy on her and tell the others she is not really sick, so she attempts to get ready for work. Georg, seeing she is truly sick, forces her back to bed and presents her with a gift: vanilla ice cream. He apologizes for his rudeness the previous night, but Amalia tells him that he was right; if “dear friend” really loved her, he would have come. Georg, meaning well, makes up a story that he saw an old, bald, fat gentleman looking into the cafe. Georg says the man told him that he had to work and could not meet his date, and Georg surmises that he must be her “dear friend”. Amalia is surprised to find she enjoys her conversation with Georg. After he leaves, she begins a letter to “dear friend,” but can only think of Georg’s kindness.
Outside the shop, Georg happily muses to himself that Amalia loves him. At Maraczek’s, Ilona tells Sipos that she has met a new man while visiting the library. Fired by Georg, Kodaly bids everyone a semi-threatening goodbye.
In the days before Christmas, the employees are busy helping shoppers, and Georg and Amalia enjoy each other’s company. On Christmas Eve, Amalia tells Georg she has invited “dear friend” to spend the evening with her and her mother. She invites Georg as well, and he hesitatingly accepts. Ilona announces her plans to accept her new boyfriend’s proposal that night. Sipos leaves to join his family’s Christmas party, and Maraczek takes Arpad for a night on the town.
Georg helps Amalia with her packages as she leaves the shop, and they accidentally drop one of the musical cigarette boxes. Amalia intends to give it to “dear friend,” but Georg says he would like it; it will remind him of the day he met her. He admits that he thought Amalia was the sort of girl he could fall in love with. Amalia confesses to having similar feelings. Georg begins reading aloud one of Amalia’s letters, and Amalia realizes that Georg really is “dear friend.” The two embrace.
Madison Opera Debut: Opera in the Park 2019
Recently at MO: Hawkins Fuller, Fellow Travelers
Recently: Papageno, The Magic Flute (New Orleans Opera); Older Thompson, Glory Denied (Houston Grand Opera, Opera Fayetteville); Figaro, The Barber of Seville (Painted Sky Opera); Emperor, The Emperor of Atlantis; Pierrot, L’Île de Merlin; Father, The Juniper Tree; William, The Fall of the House of Usher (Wolf Trap Opera); William Dale, Silent Night (Austin Opera); Remo, The Skating Rink (Garsington Opera); Manfred, Out of Darkness (Atlanta Opera); Marquis d’Obigny, La Traviata; Belcore, The Elixir of Love (Houston Grand Opera)
Madison Opera Debut: Petra, A Little Night Music (2019)
Recently: Rona, The Amateurs (Forward Theatre Company); Demeter, Hephaestus (Music Theatre of Madison); Mrs. Bucket, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Children’s Theatre of Madison); Rose, A Shayna Maidel; Mary Boyle, Juno (TimeLine Theatre Company); Quintet, Sweeney Todd (Paramount Theatre); Colette, La Cage aux Folles; Marie, The Nutcracker (Marriott Theatre); Clara, The Yiddisher Teddy Bears (The Public Theatre)
Madison Opera Debut: Tamino, The Magic Flute (2017)
Recently: Rob Hall, Everest (Austin Opera, BBC Symphony, Calgary Opera, Chicago Opera Theater); Young Gypsy, Aleko; Greenhorn, Moby Dick (Chicago Opera Theater); Tony, West Side Story (Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Liepāja Symphony Orchestra); Andy, Stonewall (New York City Opera); Nikolaus Sprink, Silent Night (Arizona Opera)
Upcoming: Doctor, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Dallas Opera)
Madison Opera Debut: Count Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro (2010)
Recently: Uncle John, The Grapes of Wrath (Michigan Opera Theatre); Mayor Shinn, The Music Man (Pacific Symphony); Alfred Doolittle, My Fair Lady (Utah Symphony); Montano, Otello; Marco, Gianni Schicchi; Viscome Cascada, The Merry Widow (Metropolitan Opera)
Madison Opera Debut: Senator Potter/General Arlie/Bartender, Fellow Travelers (2020)
Recently: Soldier, All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 (Theater Latte Da); Don Alfonso, Così fan tutte (Mill City Summer Opera); Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro (Cincinnati Opera); Bill “Sleepy” Burns, The Fix (Minnesota Opera); Ponchel, Silent Night (Austin Opera, Minnesota Opera)
Madison Opera Debut: The Magic Flute (1995)
Recently at MO: Opera in the Park 2020, Fellow Travelers, La Traviata, Rusalka
Recently: Blue, Sweeney Todd (Glimmerglass Festival); Candide (Gran Teatre de Liceu); Porgy and Bess (Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Festival); Lost in the Stars (Washington National Opera)
Upcoming: The Marriage of Figaro (Madison Opera)
Madison Opera Debut: The Tender Land (2008)
Recently at MO: A Little Night Music, Romeo & Juliet, The Barber of Seville, The Turn of the Screw
Recently: Shakespeare in Love, Richard III (Great River Shakespeare Festival); Silent Night (Minnesota Opera, L’Opera de Montreal); The Pirates of Penzance, The Liar, Snow Queen, Romeo & Juliet (Park Square Theatre); La Fanciulla del West (Minnesota Opera)