Two hearts began beating as one during
Albany Light Opera rehearsals in 1946
here for PDF version.
It may be too late to present the director of the 1946 Albany Light Opera
Company’s production of “The Merry Widow” with a bouquet of flowers.
But it’s never too late to award a literary standing ovation to Georgene P.
Kerchner for the role she played in the love story that began to blossom between
Audrey Miriam Bopp and Donald Gilbert Hauprich in the autumn of 1946.
The reason? It was Ms. Kerchener who insisted the just turned 21-year-old Audrey
and the then 22-year-old Donald would look good standing beside one another
during select scenes of the operetta.
The first rehearsals for the production took place in the LaSalle School
Auditorium on Western Avenue in Albany on September 4, 1946 and continued until
the show debuted at Philip Livingston Junior High School on November 21, 1946. A
second performance took place on November 22. A third is believed to have
followed at the Albany Institute of History and Art.
The group subsequently presented composer Humperdink’s opera “Hansel and Gretel”
at Christmastide during which Audrey sang and danced sporting a gingerbread
cookie costume while Donald applauded from the audience.
When asked in July 2015 to reminisce about the early days of their courtship,
Audrey vividly recollected receiving a dozen long stemmed red roses from Donald
on Thanksgiving 1946 – around the time she was involved in the “Hansel and
Affections between the couple deepened after Donald’s childhood friend and
neighbor Willie Kratz and his fiancé Ethel invited the former “Merry Widow”
chorus members to join them in playing cards at the
Kratz home on Second Street in Albany. A gallant Donald offered to walk Audrey
home to the Bopp residence on Hollywood Avenue. Many a moonlit stroll was to
follow as the couple enjoyed many a subsequent card game as well as attending
concerts and other cultural events together.
Upon their arrival at Audrey’s home, the couple would sometimes converse in her
family’s parlor – until Audrey’s kid brother Len made a dramatic entrance —
yawning and stretching as he poured himself a bowl of cereal as he proclaimed:
In fairness to Audrey and Donald, it was usually not later than 10 or 11 p.m. –
but little Lenny got the message across that it was time for his future
brother-in-law to take his leave. Other times, the adolescent would jokingly
proclaim to his sister’s beau: “You’re a card and you really need to be dealt
The rest is the stuff of which wholesome Hollywood romance movies of the 1940s
were made – including having Len Bopp serve as Best Man at the couple’s wedding.
On March 27, 2014, Len beamed as he posed with his big sister
Brookside Museum Bridal Exhibit beside the
their mother, Catherine Tiernan Bopp, had made for her 1914 wedding and that
Audrey wore when she became Donald’s bride 34 years later.
KINDLY NOTE: This story took on a whole new meaning after my parents were
hospitalized on the same day in November 2015. At the very time my father was
being treated for a cardiac event in the Saratoga Hospital’s ER, my mother was
experiencing a mini-stroke on the third floor. I’m elated to report they both
recovered. Reasons for celebration during 2018 include the 72nd anniversary of
their first date and the 70th anniversary of their wedding.
was AFTER writing the story posted above about how her parents met while singing
together in the 1946 Albany Light Opera Company production of The Merry Widow
that author Ann Hauprich happened upon the photograph (left) inside of a box of
ancestral pictures and documents. Much to her chagrin, Ann realized in September
2016 that father Donald G. Hauprich (circled in blue) and mother Audrey (nee
Bopp, circled in pink) had been photographed with other members of the
High School Chorus in 1941. Ann has resolved to file this photo in a folder
titled “Truth is stranger than fiction” because her now 92-year-old and
91-year-old parents insist they never said as much as “Hello” to another during
their time as members of the chorus directed by Frank Bailey. By the time they
met in 1946, Donald had served abroad in the US Army during World War II while
Audrey was attending the Albany Teachers College. What makes this picture all
the more precious is that all members of the chorus autographed the back along
with the year they were to graduate -- which can be clearly seen in a greatly
enlarged (3696 X 2216) view of the image's front and back when clicking