HUDSON VALLEYPractical jokes, a bat (the flying kind), a masquerade, and champagne bubbles are the stuff of Johann Strauss’ popular operetta, Die Fledermaus (The Bat), which opened Friday, Oct. 21, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 6, in four Hudson Valley towns for nine weekend performances. The operetta is being produced by Opera Company of the Highlands, a brand new professional company headed by Claudia Cummings. She has toured the world, premiered many new works, and sung with the best. A veteran principal soprano of New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, and many other companies, Cummings knows from experience that serious singers who want an opera career have few places to hone their skills in a professional setting. She aims to change all that with the new company. Not only is it close to the home she shares with husband and Shakespearean actor Jack Aranson, but it has proven to be an area teeming with aspiring singers on the threshold of professional careers. Die Fledermaus is double cast in part, giving more singers stage time, and the troupe hails from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts. Among them are sopranos Julie Ziavras and Suzanne Clune as Rosalinda; sopranos Sarah Rice and Joanna McIntire as Adele; tenors Michael Torpey and Osvaldo Cicchetti as Eisenstein; and countertenor Thomas Mark Fallon as Orlofsky, a role often played by a female. Other performers include David Pietri as Alfred; Brian Jagde as Falke; baritone Jeremy Moore as Dr. Blind; soprano Kathy Lawrence as Sally, and Joseph Schommer as Frank. The show is accompanied by Lillie Mikesell of Peekskill and Joel Flowers of Newburgh on piano. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays, at the following locations: Friday to Sunday, Oct. 28 to 30: St. George’s Episcopal Church, Grand St., Newburgh. Friday, Nov. 4: St. Mary’s Church, Route 9, Cold Spring. Saturday to Sunday, Nov. 5-6: Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center, Vassar St., Poughkeepsie. All tickets are $20. For reservations, call 562-5381. For more information, visit www.OperaCompanyoftheHighlands.org or write to info@OperaCompanyoftheHighlands.org.