Merry Widow November 2009

The Hungarian composer Franz Lehar's three act operetta 'The Merry Widow' was first produced in 1905. Since then it has enjoyed much popularity and is now benefiting from a revised translation by Jeremy Sams.

The unfolding drama is set in the French Embassy of a fictitious Balkan country ~ Pontevedro. The alluring widow Hanna Glawari is their wealthiest citizen and Baron Zeta is determined to hang on to her funds. However, she is hotly pursued by a string of Parisian suitors, thus forcing him to hatch a plan to put in place a romantic liaison using the dashing playboy Danilo as bait, to secure her fortune for Pontevedro.

Simon Gray (Director/Conductor) as usual has achieved another excellent production. His orchestra and large chorus have brought together the glitz and glamour of late nineteenth century Paris. Opening to an impressive set of sweeping staircase, glamorous costumes and Lehar's evocative score, this tale of flirtations and assignations, magical musical numbers and burlesque dancers, was an enchanting mix. Act II sees an eye-catching spectacle of colourful Bavarian style folk costumes, coupled with an impressive choreographed dance routine.

Karen Orchin taking the role of Hanna was powerful as the mature soprano, and looked impressive on her entrance in her elegant black 'widows weeds'. WeiHsiHun (Camille) the Canadian tenor was superb with his rich vocal tones. Leading man Rob Piatt (Danilo) gave an outstanding performance as the charismatic debonair Count and the highly accomplished young dancers completed this lively and dazzling spectacle, that was thoroughly enjoyed by a near capacity audience.