A night at the opera for Marshall

Hyphenate joins stage parade

Garry Marshall will be adding yet another feather into his multioccupational cap — that of opera director.

The producer, director, actor and writer will helm an opera or operetta in the 2004-05 season, most likely Jacques Offenbach’s comic opera “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein,” with Frederica Van Stade starring.

“After seeing Billy Friedkin’s staging of (“Duke Bluebeard’s Castle” and “Gianni Schicchi”), I thought it would be a great challenge,” Marshall said. “I have a lot to learn, and I’ll have a few years to study how to do this.

“There are two things I have always wanted to do — direct an opera and emcee a parade. I’m glad I’m taking the high road.”

Marshall joins a growing list of Hollywood directors who have ventured downtown to direct opera. Bruce Beresford helmed “Rigoletto,” John Schlesinger did “Billy Budd,” Herb Ross shepherded “La Boheme” and Julie Taymor directed “Flying Dutchman.” “Opera music moves people like no other music,” said Marshall, a former drummer.

He said his taste leans more toward operetta because “my pace is a little faster” than that of most operas.

Next, Marshall will direct and star with Kate Hudson in “Raising Helen” for Hyde Park and Disney; filming begins in February.

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