The Merry Widow coming to Palmerston North
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.