Indianapolis Opera’s ‘A Little Night Music’ Is Sublime

May 11, 2024

L-R Heather & Denis Narducci – Courtesy of Denis Ryan Kelly Jr. Used with permission.

L-R Kathleen Hacker & Zoe Lowe – Courtesy of Denis Ryan Kelly Jr. Used with permission.

A devoted Sondheim fan, I am especially particular about how his work is presented but am pleased to report that the Indianapolis Opera production, directed by A. Scott, Perry, with lyrics and music by the late composer, more than did justice to his creation.  In fact, the IO production was. as New York Times critic Clive Barnes said when the original made its Broadway debut in 1973, “heady, civilized, sophisticated and enchanting.” Joining a full house at the Toby Theatre at Newfields, I saw it Friday, May 3.

As I sat absorbed in “A Little Night Music,” I was totally transported to the year 1900 in Sweden, where the story is set. It follows Lawyer Fredrik Egerman, who has married the naïve, virginal 18-year-old Anne, with whom Fredrik’s depressed and ineffectual son, the bookish Henrik, has fallen in love. Desiree Armfeldt, a beauteous stage actor with a reputation for taking as many lovers as she does theatrical roles, is in an affair with the foolish Count Carl Magnus Malcolm, the husband of t cynical Countess Charlotte Malcolm, a dry wit who adds a comedic element to the script. When Desiree espies her former lover Fredrik Egerman in the audience of her most recent production, however, her interest in him is immediately reignited. All parties meet for a “Weekend in the Country” at Desiree’s mother, Madame Armfeldt’s, estate, where the tangled web of romantic involvements with its twists and turns makes for great amusement and entertainment. The musical’s book by Hugh Wheeler, is based on a 1955 Ingmar Bergman film, “Smiles on a Summer Night.”

L-R Aaron Eves & Rachel Purvis – Courtesy of Denis Ryan Kelly Jr. Used with permission.

The main attraction, however, is not the musical’s book, but its enchanting and haunting score with music that consists of melancholic waltzes that reference past loves, trysts and romantic interludes. Executing Sondheim’s exquisite score was a world class group of singers, all deserving of recognition, which included ideally cast spouses, Heather (Desiree) and Daniel Narducci (Frederick), Kathleen Hacker (Madame Armfeldt), Rachael Koebernick (Anne Egerman). Anne Fuchs (Countess Charlotte Malcom) Johnathan Elmore (Henrik) and H. Conor Angell (Count Carl Magnus Malcolm). The entire cast of sixteen excelled not only vocally but dramatically as well in characterizations that were convincing and reflected the high caliber of IO’s artistic product in general.

Standing out for her small, yet pivotal role as Desiree’s wise beyond her years, daughter Fredericka Armfelt, was talented actor Zoe Lowe. Also notable were the fine performances of Elmore for his tormented and eccentric Henrik and Hacker for her portrayal of the stern, impervious Countess Madam Armfeldt.

Led by conductor Alfred Salvia, the 18-piece Indianapolis Opera Orchestra splendidly interpreted Sondheim’s magical score that included hits such as “Liaisons,” “A Weekend in The Country,” and the ubiquitous “Send in the Clowns,” beautifully rendered by Heather Narducci like no other version I heard previously.

Matching the high caliber of the performance itself were the show’s production elements which were stellar thanks to the contributions of Lighting Designer Catherine Sipe, Set Designers Perry, Valeriya Nedviga, and David Craig Starky and Costume Coordinator Dr. Jessica Burton.

For tickets and information about the Indianapolis Opera 2024-2025 season visit



photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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