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JULY 28 & 30
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Sigmund Romberg’s operetta The Student Prince was old-fashioned when it opened in 1924—but then, that was the point. With Tin Pan Alley starting to outpace Old Vienna, Prince milked the nostalgia market for everything it was worth. And though Romberg is credited as a link between European tradition and the newer style of Kern and Rodgers, his work’s sensibility is so remote as to seem written in hieroglyphics. Still, a good tune’s a good tune, and this piece has plenty of them—mostly about the joys of beer-drinking and student life at Heidelberg U.—hung loosely on a “plot” involving our eponymous prince and his choice between a chaste barmaid (!) and duty to the state (you can write the rest of it yourself). Summer Opera Theater’s production is reactionary to a fault, but kept in a constant state of motion (sort of a Madame Tussaud’s on ice), and the paint-by-numbers summer stock designs suit the vision to a T. As usual with this company, musical values are high, and while Raymond Very’s prince is unrelentingly hangdog, he and Alicia Berneche, as his love-interest, sing the hell out of their parts. Conductor Piotr Gajewski seems genuinely in love with the score, and if this kind of stuff doesn’t make your flesh crawl, the old-world sounds coming from the pit might well seduce you. The ninetysomethings bussed in for the performance I saw ate up this hunk of strudel with a spoon. At 8 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Sunday at Catholic University’s Hartke Theater, 620 Michigan Ave. NE. $25-50. (202) 319-4000. (Joe Banno)