Die Lustige Witwe(or The Merry Widow) is one of the greatest operettas ever, funny, charming and with gorgeous music. This 2001 San Francisco production, sung in English, is an absolute delight, very like the Zurich performance and the 1934 film. Visually, it is simply gorgeous with the ball-gowns worn by the ladies lush, the men looking dapper in their suits and the settings as opulent as you'd expect. The staging is simple, but not overly-so, and light-hearted in tone, making the comedic moments for example subtle and funny all at once. The playful and somewhat hostile chemistry between Anna and Danillo is convincing and beautifully played. The third act ballet is elaborate in its choreography, and very charmingly danced as well as technically accomplished. The video directing is expertly, sympathetic to the singers and stage direction and never irritating or obtrusive. The camera shots don't look static or too much of one technique.
The production is even better on a musical level. The orchestral playing as you'd expect with Lehar's score is stylish in a way that makes your heart dance, and the more waltz like parts are played with real lushness that you are swept away really to a different world. The conducting is efficient and never too broad or plodding. The chorus are well balanced vocally and are thankfully not static on stage. The principal singing is faultless. Yvonne Kenny looks glamorous and sings absolutely beautifully as Anna. Her playfulness and hostility is a big part of why the chemistry between her and Bo Skovhus is as convincing as it is. Skovhus displays a tall, handsome presence and a warm, ringing voice, and he also proves that he can portray Danillo as a convincing romantic lover and with a gift for comedy. Angelika Kirchschlager is bewitching both in looks and voice. A strikingly beautiful woman with a rich and sensitive when needed voice, her Valencienne is appealingly flirtatious and instantly likable. Elijah Chester's additional rendition of Quite Parisian is enough to bring the house down.
All in all, a wonderful sparkling performance. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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