Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Lehar - Merry Widow / Kenny Skovhus Kirchschlager Turay Kunzel San Francisco Opera|
Actors: Yvonne Kenny, Bo Skovhus
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
This is Lotfi Mansouri?s spectacular last production as General Director of The San Francisco Opera with Yvonne Kenny making her debut in the title role, new dialogue specially commissioned from Pulitzer Prize-winning play... more »
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A Sumptuous 'Widow' in English from the San Francisco Opera
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 09/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD from the 2001 San Francisco Opera has so many things going for it that the only tiny fault I can find with it is that it doesn't have English subtitles (in fact, the only optional subtitles are in Spanish!). One can understand 80% of what is said and sung, but one wants to understand every word of it!The mise en scene is enormously attractive. It was the last production done by Lotfi Mansouri, the SFO's long-time general director, and he is quoted as saying he wanted to go out in style. He certainly succeeded. The sets by Michael Yeargan are gorgeous art nouveau scenes that make you believe you are in fin de siecle Paris. Perfect. Mansouri's stage business is funny and engaging. It appears that no cost was spared in the preparation of Thierry Bosquet's opulent costumes. The principal singers couldn't be better. Yvonne Kenny brings a lovely voice, a glamorous stage presence and a subtle characterization to the part of Anna Glawari, the merry widow. Bo Skovhus, the handsome Danish baritone, is known for his ringing voice, but it isn't so well-known that he is a clever comic actor who can still make a believable lover of Danilo. He makes us glad we can accompany him to Maxime's. Angelika Kirchschlager, with that stunning mezzo voice and looks to match, is a bewitchingly flirtatious Valencienne. Njegus, sung and acted like a demented Nathan Lane by Elijah Chester, brings the house down with his interpolated 'Quite Parisian,' a number not in the original production but later added by Lehar. All the other named roles are well-taken and too numerous to single out. There is a charming and elaborate added third-act ballet, commissioned by Mansouri to non-'Merry Widow' music by Lehar, choreographed by Lawrence Pech. Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein supplied witty new dialog. The lilting musical direction is by that expert at 'light' music, Cincinnati's Erich Kunzel. Extras include interviews with the principals, including Mansouri, that add to the background of this particular production. There is also a synopsis on the DVD (as well as in the handsome included booklet). This DVD makes the 1990 Joan Sutherland/Richard Bonynge/Opera Australia DVD look tired indeed, and it is much better sung. Yes, this is easily the version to have.My strongest recommendation.Scott Morrison"
THE Merry widow. WOW
Ralph Paulsen | Los Angeles, Ca United States | 12/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes this production has much in common with the Australian version, however, much if the sillyness found in the Aussie production has been eliminated, or tamed down, the video and audio are superb, the Australian DVD suffers from poor choices of microphones, making Joan Southerland sound less than good, keep in mind that it's the recording not the voice that's not up to par. the ballet is almost identical, the Aussie version is danced everybit as well, but the SF costumes outshine anything ever done in The Merry Widow, with the exception of the Ballet with Karen Kane (get it, you will love it) yes it could use an english subtitle (see other review) but it won't stop anyone from enjoying this production, and if you have the equipment the anamorphic transfer & 5.1 chan. audio are stunning (my 73" HDTV says so), overdone? I don't think so."
One of the greatest of Viennese operettas in an excellent pr
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 12/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Count Danilo Danilovitch has a simple philosophy, "Make love often; become engaged seldom; and marry never." When Anna Glawari, now a rich widow, comes back into his life Danilo will be forced to rethink things. This wonderful Franz Lehar piece was one of the last great examples of Viennese operetta. It was produced in 1905; nine years later the world came to an end for this kind of belle époque sophistication.
The story is as simple as the music is glorious. Danilo and Anna had been lovers once. He was of Pontenegrian nobility and she was a commoner. His uncle forbad a marriage. Danilo now has become a prized diplomat at his country's embassy in Paris, as well as a gifted lecher and drunkard. Anna simply married an older and very rich man who had the courtesy to die shortly afterwards. Now, Anna has come to Paris and every impoverished noble and rake, often the same thing, are eager to woo her for her money. Pontenegro, however, has fallen on hard economic times. The country is almost bankrupt. So the Pontenegrian ambassador has ordered Danilo to woo and wed Anna so that her riches can be deposited with the state. Got that? Now forget it. The only thing we need to know is that Danilo, without money, will not marry Anna for hers...and that they still love each other. And that we are in Paris.
This 2001 production by the San Francisco Opera is as sumptuous and light as a whipped cream meringue. The sets are beautiful. The costumes are gorgeous, all white-ties-and-tails for the men and lush ball gowns for the women. The actors are attractive and, most importantly, they can sing. Yvonne Kenny who plays Anna is not simply attractive, she can manage to look lovely, lovingly and a bit skeptical all at the same time. Bo Skovhus who plays Danilo is a tall, handsome Dane with a good deal of stage presence. The operetta was staged by Lofti Mansouri with a light touch and appropriate stage business. The Merry Widow is effervescent, worldly and gay. It gives us a time when fidelity was considered as old-fashioned as dumplings, when husbands had their mistresses and wives their paramours, and they all went to Maxim's. Lehar's greatest score brings all this together with music that is deeply romantic and as bubbly as an innocent, or not too innocent, first romance. Like so many operas and operettas which were written for a different type of audience in a different kind of world, the story-line and dialogue cannot always disguise the sound of old, creaking joints. Two things make this aging irrelevant to our pleasure.
First, of course, is Lehar's music. We may not always know the titles, but the melodies, for example, to "I'm Off to Chez Maxim's," "Vilia," "Girls, Girls, Girls" and the Merry Widow waltz are almost instantly recognizable more than a hundred years after they were first heard. Second, is the person of Anna Glawari. She is a woman of the world, wise in the ways of men, love and finance. At a time when married women had few rights and few resources they could call their own, Anna knows what she's doing. She loves Danilo and knows he loves her. She also recognizes his pride that will not permit him to marry for money, or even the appearance of this. Anna's solution is clever, loving and practical. She let's Danilo discover a new philosophy, "Make love often; become engaged seldom; and marry once for life and forever."
This DVD is a filmed performance, but TV director Gary Halvorsun has combined fluid medium shots and close-ups to give us a dynamic presentation. There are no irritating cutaways to the audience. The DVD transfer is excellent, well lit, clear and with great color. Extras include a plot synopsis, a discussion of the opera with cast members and a booklet in the DVD case.
You'd have to have a pocketful of pebbles instead of a heart not to at least enjoy Lehar's score. Romantic? Well, so's sipping Tokay at Maxim's with the woman you love...I mean your wife...I mean...well, you know what I mean."
James Montmarquet | Tennessee | 08/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you don't enjoy this, either you hate opera -- or are chillingly serious about it -- in which case, what are you doing at this location? Yes, Yvonne Kenny does have strain to create anything like a 'soaring tone' which, fortunately, Lehar only occasionally calls for. Still, if you're going to own so much as one 'light opera,' this is the one. I intend to get a Fledermaus one of these days, but no possible version of that could compare to a good M.W. -- let alone, a great one. The second act is beautifully done -- but the third act, beginning with the ballet they added at Maxim's, is even better. Incomparable!"