The Merry Widow com­ing to Palmer­ston North

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY! -

The Merry Widow (orig­i­nally Die Lustige Witwe) is a heart-warm­ing ro­man­tic comic op­eretta in three acts by Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian com­poser, Franz Leha´r (1870-1948), set at the start of the 20th cen­tury.

Welling­ton G&S Light Opera (WGSLO) presents this English lan­guage ver­sion of Le­har’s fa­mous op­eretta at Re­gent on Broad­way on Septem­ber 24 at 4pm.

The plot, based on the com­edy play L’at­tache´ d’am­bas­sade by Henri Meil­hac, cen­tres on ef­forts master-minded at the Parisian em­bassy of the Balkan coun­try of ‘‘Pon­teve­dro’’ to en­sure that a rich ex­pa­tri­ate widow is mar­ried off to a fel­low coun­try­man to avert fi­nan­cial col­lapse of her na­tive land. It’s set in the em­bassy and at a party at the widow’s man­sion.

A sub-plot of would-be ro­man­tic en­tan­gle­ments serves to con­fuse the schem­ing and sup­port the comic as­pects. Hero Danilo (a bari­tone), played by for­mer Palmer­ston North singer Craig Beardsworth, and hero­ine widow Anna (Ge­or­gia Jamieson-Emms) at last con­fess their yearn­ing for each other in the mov­ing waltz scene. All ends hap­pily when the widow’s own scheme is fully hatched and com­pro­mis­ing cir­cum­stances ex­plained. The com­pany men and women both de­plore and cel­e­brate each other’s wiles and foibles in a joy­ous fi­nale.

The en­dear­ing mu­sic of this ev­er­pop­u­lar work in­cludes the Merry Widow Waltz, You’ll find me at Maxim’s, Women, Women!, Red as the Rose in May­time and Vilia and the work in­cor­po­rates en­er­getic dances in­clud­ing eth­nic Balkan Kolo and cabaret Can-Can se­quences.

The pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues WGSLO’s com­mit­ment to well pro­vi­sioned stage, wardrobe and mu­si­cal re­sources as for its re­cent Mikado (2014) and Gon­doliers (2015) tours, in­clud­ing a cast of 40 singers and dancers ac­com­pa­nied by a 27 player or­ches­tra.

Now WGSLO re­turns, with a ful­lon de­liv­ery of this fa­mous and en­gag­ingly ro­man­tic work, set in three acts, with lav­ish cos­tum­ing, full sets of scenery, and mu­si­cal scene paint­ing with a range of or­ches­tra­tion mak­ing es­pe­cial use of live strings and harp.

Although per­formed reg­u­larly by the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera in New York, as re­cently as 2015 with Rene´e Flem­ing as the widow, it’s 20 years since a ma­jor New Zealand per­for­mance has been mounted. The Merry Widow is con­sid­ered one of the most per­formed of all light opera works up un­til the 1960s, thanks to its ap­peal­ing mu­sic, nicely con­trived char­ac­ter­i­sa­tions, amus­ing plot and ac­tive use of dance se­quences

The pro­duc­tion, di­rected by the well-es­tab­lished team of Gillian Jerome with Mu­sic Di­rec­tor Hugh McMil­lan with dance se­quences by chore­og­ra­pher Myr­lia Pur­cell, re­cently ar­rived from the USA via work in Ger­many and the UK, will be pre­sented at the Re­gent on Broad­way on Septem­ber 24 at 4pm. Full de­tails on www.gns.org.nz; book­ings at Tick­etDirect and at the Re­gent.

Ge­or­gia Jamieson-Emms is the Widow in The Merry Widow.

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