Broadway and The Met take on The Merry Widow

The Metropolitan Opera performed Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow as part of its Live in HD broadcast series on January 17th, 2015.  This performance was stunning from start to finish and saw the teaming up of the best of Broadway and opera to pull it off.

The production, directed and choreographed by Broadway director Susan Stroman, starred Renée Fleming (Hanna Glawari, aka ‘The Merry Widow’), Sir Thomas Allen (Baron Mirko Zeta), Kelli O’Hara (Valencienne, the Baron’s wife), Nathan Gunn (Danilo), Alek Shrader (Camille de Rosillon, Valencienne’s admirer), and Carson Elrod (Njegus.)  The sets are by Julian Crouch, and was conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.

The production sees the Met debuts of Susan Stroman , Alex Shrader, and Kelli O’Hara – all of whom are known for working on Broadway.

The production is a period production, however the Broadway influence was felt from beginning to end, especially with the help of Sir Andrew Davis’ upbeat tempi.  The Can-Can number moved at a quick pace and saw some of the dancers coming down from the rafters, and starts as part of the scene change between Acts Two and Three.  By keeping the production to the period of the operetta (1900 Paris), it allowed the performers take centre stage, which they did.

The performance features an English translation by Jeremy Sams.  Despite being sung and spoken in English, subtitles were provided, although they were not required for the most part.

On top of all this was the star studded cast.  It is not surprising that all the men were running around after Miss Fleming, who captivated the audience with her performance from start to end.  Sir Thomas Allen was in fine voice.  Mr. Gunn’s Danilo was a dashing soldier who truly loved Hanna, despite his claims otherwise.  Miss O’Hara’s Valencienne and Mr. Shrader’s Camille obviously cared for each other, and left the audience wondering what really would have happened if Valenciennne was not ‘a responsible wife’ as she reminded Camille on more than one occasion.

The entire performance, running three hours with one intermission, just raced by in a flash.  But it also allowed one to depart in an upbeat mood, despite almost wanting more.

This performance was worth attending, and if you can make it either to New York for a live performance, or to your local cinema for a re-broadcast, I strongly recommend that you go.  You will be treated to an enjoyable evening.

Here are some videos from the production:

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