Merry feast for the senses

OPERA NORTH: MERRY WIDOW THE­ATRE ROYAL

Nottingham Post - - EG DAILY - By WIL­LIAM RUFF

IN re­cent years we’ve had Car­men set in the wild west, Mon­teverdi at the bot­tom of a dis­used swim­ming pool, Mozart in a Per­spex cube and Puc­cini con­fined to a glo­ri­fied broom-cup­board.

But Opera North’s re­vival of their 2010 Merry Widow pro­duc­tion comes as an an­ti­dote to all that.

The sparkling, laugh-out-loud trans­la­tion of Le­har’s op­eretta (by Kit Hes­keth-har­vey), de­signer Leslie Travers’ eye-candy set of chan­de­liers, sump­tu­ous decor and scant­ily draped sculp­tures plus a tech­ni­color as­sort­ment of na­tional cos­tumes, lav­ish ball gowns and over-the-top mil­i­tary cos­tumes com­bine to make this Merry Widow a feast for the senses. And the singing and danc­ing sparkle too.

De­spite oc­ca­sional al­lu­sions to an in­ter­na­tional bank­ing cri­sis and a world tee­ter­ing on the brink of war, di­rec­tor Giles Haver­gal en­sures that this show is pure plea­sure from be­gin­ning to end.

There are so many hummable tunes (the Gold and Sil­ver waltz, Vilja, etc) that the sto­ry­line is of rel­a­tively mi­nor con­cern.

But at root it’s all about money. Widow Hanna Glawari has bil­lions and mustn’t be al­lowed to marry a for­eigner. The op­eretta is about how money is first a bar­rier to true love - and then sud­denly isn’t. She gets to marry her man, Count Danilo, in the end, after lots of par­ty­ing, flirt­ing, se­cret mes­sages on fans, jeal­ous hus­bands, etc.

Katie Bird makes a de­light­ful Hanna, stun­ning at her en­trance and vi­va­cious through­out. Quir­ijn de Lang is just right as Danilo, wit­tily try­ing to prove that he loves her for her­self and not just for her bank ac­count.

Ge­of­frey Dolton is ami­ably dotty as the Pon­tevedrian Am­bas­sador, Amy Fre­ston a de­light­fully spir­ited, multi-tal­ented Va­len­ci­enne and Ni­cholas Watts a warmly lyri­cal Camille de Rosil­lon.

The huge cho­rus looks and sounds spec­tac­u­lar and con­duc­tor Mar­tin An­dré un­corks a fizzing per­for­mance from his or­ches­tra.

Opera North’s The Merry Widow

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