Fringe Box



‘The Merry Widow’ Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 28 Feb, 2012
Updated on: 20 Mar, 2012

By the Stage Dragon

This operetta is supposed to have been Hitler’s favourite. Having read this in the programme I scanned the auditorium.

There was a distinct absence of any neo-nazi types but plenty of theatre goers from the generation that witnessed his aggression. In any case, it is with some relief that I can report that Adolf would have been unlikely to have enjoyed this boisterous and libertine performance in the way that the audience clearly did.

Opera della Luna are employing a new English translation of this perennial favourite. They are using imaginative staging to give it a fresh look whilst retaining reflections of the glamour and decadence of turn of the century Paris. The striking set makes an impact immediately,  as does the on stage six piece orchestra which plays whilst the audience are gathering.

It might not have been a production that purists would prefer but for sheer entertainment it attracts top marks. At times burlesque, albeit with puppets, and sometimes even pantomime, several of the performances were nevertheless very good vocally: the two women in the cast were particularly strong.

The Merry Widow is the story of Hanna, a farm girl, untutored and with no sophistication. She has married an 80-year-old for his money and when he dies soon after, decides to blow it all on a good time in Paris, resulting in the merriment of the title. There’s also plenty of romance, confusion and a twist in the tail.

There are still seats to be had for the remaining performances. Whether you are an open minded opera buff, that likes to see performances with a fresh approach or someone who is unsure whether operetta is for them you should give this a try. Judging by the audience reaction to this evening’s performance you won’t regret it.

From Wikipedia
Opera della Luna, founded in 1994, is a British touring theatre troupe of actor-singers focusing on comic works. Led by artistic director Jeff Clarke, it takes its name from Haydn’s operatic setting of Goldoni’s farce Il mondo della luna. The company presents innovative, usually zany and irreverent, small-scale productions and adaptations of Gilbert and Sullivan, other comic opera and operetta, in English. Opera della Luna is a registered British charity.
The company undertakes two major tours each year, visiting over a hundred mid-scale venues throughout the UK. Occasionally the company has toured overseas. Clarke directs all of the productions, which are small-scale adaptations performed without chorus, accompanied by a small orchestral ensemble.

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