The widow, Anna Glawari, faces a dilemma. Pontevedro, her native country, will be left bankrupt if she weds a foreigner. An Embassy plot to marry her off to the debonair Count Danilo ...
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The widow, Anna Glawari, faces a dilemma. Pontevedro, her native country, will be left bankrupt if she weds a foreigner. An Embassy plot to marry her off to the debonair Count Danilo Danilovitch is complicated by the secret affair which has developed between the French attaché, Camille de Rosillon, and the Ambassador's wife, Valencienne. This light-hearted tale of political and amorous intrigue unfolds amidst the gaiety of high society in turn-of-the-century Paris. Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Superior Work, Performed As Pure Entertainment, And Enjoyed By A Partisan Throng That Comes To Pay Homage To A Musical Idol.
Filmed during a live performance 3 February, 1988, within Sydney's justly esteemed opera house, Franz Lehar's Merry Widow is sung here by soon to be retired Joan Sutherland, in addition to a splendid supporting cast, with Richard Bonynge leading his established pick-up orchestra, here dubbed The Elizabethan Philharmonic, in an outstanding rendition of Lehar's scoring for an evergreen operetta that depicts in spirit and particulars Belle Époque Paris. From the original, a stage play of intrigue within high society that debuted in 1861, WIDOW (Lustige Witwe) is adapted wonderfully well under the direction of Lotfi Mansouri for this production made for Australian television that includes enormously agreeable "business" and choreography in support of the vocal soloists who act their parts in pleasing fashion for the familiar Christopher Hassall English language translation, from which one finds that only Act III differs substantially from the standard libretto, although the entire work's origins do frequently seem to be grounded at D'Oyly Carte rather than in Vienna. Several critical observers have stated that, at 61 years, Sutherland is too old to play this part of Anna Glawari, "The Merry Widow", additionally commenting upon her prognathousness and girth, and it is manifest that the diva does not readily rise to her feet from a sitting position. Nonetheless, she is palpably comfortable in the role, and it is clear that her musicality is as estimable as ever. Indeed, the only obvious clinker here comes from below the boards, within the orchestra's string section. Although never sylphlike, Sutherland's musical career has been aptly advanced by husband/coach/manager Bonynge (who certainly knew a good thing when he heard one) and opera lovers the world over have gladly sanctioned Coleridge's "willing suspension of disbelief" to place the soprano firmly into her most successful characterizations, each of which her followers have greeted with idolization. A house filled to capacity and ripe with esteem for Sutherland as a national treasure, evinces its satisfaction during balloon popping curtain calls, after previously halting the action often with its applause, notably following Sutherland's ardent show-stopping rendering of "Vilja", sung amid opulently created period ornamentation. Despite Sutherland's accomplished turn as Anna, the evening belongs to tenor Ronald Stevens who, as male lead Danilo Danilovitch, captures each of his scenes through his gusto. The striking soprano Anne-Maree McDonald sings well and acts gracefully as Valencienne, while other supporting cast members are, for the most part, at least proficient. The WIDOW's narrative has been in a continuing condition of flux since its inception and this film's alternate English translation has been particularly favoured in Australia for many years. Directed with exhilaration and designed with a refined eye for detail, this whimsical musical play is certain to be welcomed into an operetta lover's cinema library. Both VHS and DVD versions offer first-class visual and sound quality and each includes a leaflet of synopsis that also lists all involved with the production.
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