Reviewed by Ann Durrell
The Merry Widow is an operetta by Franz Lehár which premiered in 1905 in Vienna. Hanna Glawari is a young wealthy widow from Pontevedro who has her choice of suitors on her arrival in Paris. Baron Zeta, the Pontevedrian ambassador, is formulating a plan to marry Hanna off to Count Danilo in order to keep her wealth in Pontevedro which without the Widow’s inheritance looks set to face financial ruin. Sounds simple hey? Well it may have been an ideal plan if there was not history between the wealthy widow and the dashing Count. At the same time the Pontevedrian men seem to be having issue with the local Parisian men stepping in and turning the heads of their good wives.
I found act one to be a little slow and not as smooth as I would like to have seen. It took me a while to get into and to get to know the characters however in act two I felt it definitely improved for me. The widow Glawari was sung by Katie Bird who has an outstanding voice and tone. Quirijn de Lang as Danilo performs the role of a caddish aristocratic to a tee, his voice is strong and his comedic timing on point!
It’s in the final scenes at the widow Glawari’s house where Baron Zeta’s wife Valencienne, really comes to her own, impressively Gilene Butterfield is not only a superb singer, she impressively cartwheels across the stage and performs the split without effort!
Throughout the productions there are some really funny quips. A nod to the classic Ferrero Rocher advert from the Ambassador’s guests, slightly smutty word play, and the references to the front hall in a slightly salubrious way were all very clever additions to the script.
From a performance and stage point of view, perhaps not my favourite by Opera North, but the music and song are still one to catch.
Tickets cost from £12 to £60 (booking fees may apply).
Opera North’s The Merry Widow is at The Lowry in Manchester from 15-17 November 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000