I've always loved Lehar's operetta, and this Merry Widow's a treasure, almost as good as the 1934 Chevalier/MacDonald film and far superior to the Lesley Garrett production(haven't yet seen the Bo Skovhus performances but will check them out). The Sutherland Opera Australia production was also interesting. One might miss the garden and pavilion settings of Act 2, but the charming stage direction, fun dialogue and beautiful music more than make up for things. The settings and costumes are suitably sumptuous, Hanna's are not as glamorous as other performances but still look lovely. The orchestral playing is full of verve and sometimes quite dance-like, and the conducting is not broad or ponderous. The performances are very impressive. Dagmar Schellenberger sings with compelling tones and while Hanna is more playful and not very hostile here it did work well and Schellenberger acts superbly in that respect. Piotr Beczala sings with his usual honeyed and lyrical tone, and is charming and dashing. Rodney Gilfry has a strong voice and commands the stage well as Danilo. But the star of the show for me was Ute Gfrerer, she sings beautifully, is a vibrant presence and even manages some delightful dancing in the Can Can in Act 2. All in all, a treasure. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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