wed 30/09/2020

The Merry Widow, Opera North | reviews, news & interviews

The Merry Widow, Opera North

The Merry Widow, Opera North

Lehár’s Viennese bauble yields only mild amusement

Oh Vienna: Richard Burkhard, James McOran Campbell, Nicholas Sharatt and William Dazeley with the Chorus of Opera NorthAlastair Muir

It’s such a pity that the more striking elements in Franz Lehár’s orchestration are heard so fleetingly, such as the tiny glints of cimbalon which give the best parts of the score an authentic bohemian - or Pontevedran - flavour. But too often the relentless parade of waltzes and polkas begins to grate, and you’re about to nod off when suddenly something ear-catching happens – a sequence of gorgeous string portamenti, a languorous violin solo, or stopped horn chords that sound as if they’ve escaped from a Mahler symphony. Then you recall that The Merry Widow was first performed in Vienna in 1905.

It’s such a pity that the more striking elements in Franz Lehár’s orchestration are heard so fleetingly, such as the tiny glints of cimbalon which give the best parts of the score an authentic bohemian - or Pontevedran - flavour. But too often the relentless parade of waltzes and polkas begins to grate, and you’re about to nod off when suddenly something ear-catching happens – a sequence of gorgeous string portamenti, a languorous violin solo, or stopped horn chords that sound as if they’ve escaped from a Mahler symphony. Then you recall that The Merry Widow was first performed in Vienna in 1905.

Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Giles Havergal’s frequently inaudible English adaptation would really benefit from surtitles

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