Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Lehar - The Merry Widow / Bonynge Sutherland Stevens Opera Australia|
Actors: Joan Sutherland, Ron Stevens, Anne Maree McDonald, Anson Austin, Gordon Wilcock
Director: Virginia Lumsden
Genres: Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Joan sutherland sparkles in the lead role of lehars delightful operetta in this opera australia production from the sydney opera house. Studio: Kultur Release Date: 11/20/2001 Starring: Joan Sutherland Run time: 155 mi... more »
Sutherland tarrnishes her star; should have quit long ago
Irreverent | La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA | 01/22/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The video and sound are scrumptious, Lehar's music is as appealing and lively as ever, and the supporting cast is fine. The costumes, scenery, and choreography are marvelous.
HOWEVER -- Sutherland was almost 62 when she did this, and was no longer physically or musically worthy of this role. Her voice is weak, wavering, off-key. She is too heavy and lacking in energy to be a sprightly merry widow. This might be tolerable in a cameo appearance for old time's sake, but not in the starring role that overshadows all other parts. I want my money back.
Why did Sutherland ever go along with releasing this blemish on her heavenly legacy of masterpieces? Did she long to experience once more the intoxication of the fawning crowds and adulation her name alone might bring? Was it money? Even if Sutherland and hubby Bonynge (the conductor) were contentedly rich from their many deserving efforts of previous decades, others might have pressed for one more big profit. Too bad.
Clearly, it must have been Sutherland's star power and birthplace, not the actual performance, which had the crowd in her hometown (Sydney) cheering and applauding so wildly. I cannot believe that they (or any knowledgeable reviewer with normal hearing) could honestly enjoy Sutherland's embarrassing performance, which someone along the way should have withheld from release.
UPDATE: We no longer have much reason to buy this DVD. Not only is the San Francisco Opera's four-star English performance now on the market, but five-star versions in German (the original language almost always fits the music and rhythm better) are available. My fave is the 2005 centennial performance from the Mörbisch Lake Festival with Margarita de Arellano, Mathias Hausmann, Elisabeth Starzinger, Harald Serafin, and Marwan Shamiyeh, produced by ORF, the Austrian Radio & TV network. It comes with subtitles and a good printed synopsis, although the wonderful music and singing matched with the visual treats are quite sufficient without precise understanding of all the words. Translations of this work must be highly approximate anyway, struggling with rhyme, meter, and Austrian German multilingual wordplay (with at least three other languages). The cast performs with the chemistry and sexy energy that the mess from Sydney lacks. Without some special reason, purchase of Bonynge & Sutherland's DVD from Opera Australia (not to be confused with Austria) would misuse funds better spent elsewhere.
The Merry Widow, a flop
Harold G. Cutler | Clovis, New Mexico United States | 03/14/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Sorry, The Merry Widow is a delightsome Operetta, but Joan Sutherland is past her prime for such a part. Her singing starts out wavering and slightly off key. She is too old and too big to carry off the dances. Ronald Stevens did a good job, but could not carry Joan Sutherland. (no pun intended) We will just have to wait for a newer singer, better suited for this Operetta. Help, will someone produce a bubbly good Merry Widow."
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I absolutely love this opera and this video of it. Joan Sutherland and Ronald Stevens are great together. Although Sutherland is a bit older, it is still Sutherland and her voice IS the Countess. Ronald Stevens is gorgeous with a voice to match. It is better than anything that is being put out now and beats the Merry Widow that the Met did. Own it."
A marvelous operette in colors and scenery
Mrs. Sunar Tjahjono | Jakarta, Indonesia | 05/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although it is true that Joan Sutherland seemed too old for this part as Madame Glawari, however her acting and voice is still superb. Ignoring this condition, the operette itself was shown marvelously in colors, scenery and costumes. Also the ballet and dancing give us much enjoyment too watch this video. It was a real amusement to see the funny situation and words, as it is sung in English and quite understandable. All in short, we need only enjoy the music, scenery (which is superb), costumes and other singers who participate their own credit to this operette."