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This happy show [seen 15 November 2007 in Naples, Florida, USA], full of melodic singing and rhythmic dance music, takes the audience back to a more carefree era and requires a cast that can both sing and dance to its happy tunes. Czech Opera Prague and Teatro Lirico D'Europa are steeped in the traditions of Lehár and Central European operetta. Their singers can dance as well as sing. Under the direction of Martin Mazik, the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra played with the idiomatic lilt that marks a fine performance of this Lehár work. Stage director Martin Otava told the story in a straightforward, good humoured manner.

The full set of 'The Merry Widow'. Photo © 2007 Robin Grant
The full set of 'The Merry Widow'. Photo © 2007 Robin Grant

Christin Molnar was an enchanting Widow with a smooth lyrical voice. Her characterisation was intriguing as she gradually reeled in her prey, Danilo. She enchanted the audience with her 'Vilja Song'. Danilo, who had been in love with Hanna, the widow, before her marriage to a rich elderly banker, insists he will have none of her. He likes to fall in love often. He even gets engaged once in a while, but says he will never marry. Hanna, however, is on a mission and she steers him right into her net. Mario Nikolov, who alternated in the role with Orlin Goranov, was a charming, urbane Danilo with a commanding voice. Both are fine operatic tenors as well as good actors.

Christin Molnar (The Merry Widow) surrounded by her admirers. Photo © 2007 Robin Grant
Christin Molnar (The Merry Widow) surrounded by her admirers. Photo © 2007 Robin Grant

 

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Copyright © 4 December 2007 Susan Hampton, Los Angeles, USA

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Natalie Artemas-Polak - classical CD and book reviews, liner and programme notes, articles and lectures: CLICK TO CONTACT