L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!
Merry Widow (The)
• New York City Opera staged several productions from the 1950s through the 1990s, most memorably a lavish 1977 version starring Beverly Sills and Alan Titus. Using a brilliant new translation by Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick, this Tito Capobianco production was lavish and gloriously entertaining.
• The Light Opera of Manhattan staged an intimate but equally effective version Off-Broadway in the 1970s which remained in their repertory until the company's demise in the 1980s. Alice Hammerstein Mathias (Oscar Hammerstein II's daughter) provided a witty translation, and French native Jeanne Bouvais was the first of many to play the title role.
•An Australian Opera production starred Joan Sutherland. For some years, it was the only English version available in home video formats.
•A long overdue Metropolitan Opera production in 2000 proved to be a disappointment despite the presence of operatic superstars Frederica Von Stade and Placido Domingo in the leads. A feeble translation and the Met's cavernous 3,000 seat house drained most of the requisite humor and charm from the material.
•PBS broadcast a lavish staging by the San Francisco Opera on Christmas night, 2002. Although pleasing to the eye, it suffered from terminal stuffiness and widespread miscasting.
New productions of The Merry Widow continue to appear. Although she has become a resident of the operatic stage, it would be a pity if Hannah (or Sonia, etc.) should ever drown in a sea of serious intentions. This Widow is, at heart, a creature of the popular stage, and and an embodiment of romantic comedy. One hopes future presentations retain the true lighthearted spirit that made Die Lustige Witew one of the 20th Century's brightest and most resilient cultural gems.