This will be a joyful treat—John Copley’s celebrated production of The Merry Widow, an artistic achievement at a very high level combined with joyous entertainment and wonderful melodies. The Merry Widow is Franz Lehar’s comic masterpiece, played out in a stream of memorable melodies including the ‘Vilja Song’ and ‘The Merry Widow Waltz’. This is a performance to open the season in a sunny frame of mind—it will likely make you leave the opera house smiling, waltzing and singing the songs.
Within a truly glamorous setting, this is a traditional staging of all that The Merry Widow has to offer, and it will be sung in English. Set around the time of the opera’s composition in the 1880s, the production has chocolate-box frocks, dashing uniformed officers, a full-blown ‘Pontevedro in Paris’ at Hanna’s home (complete with folk-dancers) and orange-flounced can-can girls at Maxim’s. In all this glory it will showcase three international opera stars—the English prima donna Sarah Tynan, the American Nathan Gunn, one of the most sought-after baritones in the USA, and the celebrated Andrew Shore, one of the great character actor singers in opera. The exciting Estonian Kristiina Poska will make her debut in the Coliseum pit.
Only 11 performances are scheduled, and the opera house will be sold out—but we have secured centre seats in the Orchestra Stalls to make sure our Members enjoy the performance to the full—having first enjoyed a delicious Champagne Three-Course Dinner at The Savoy Hotel. The price for our Members for the entire evening is only £139 per person, including Orchestra Stalls seats, a three-course Champagne Dinner, your taxi to the Opera House, VAT and restaurant service charge. The full value of the evening is £185. (If you prefer to book for the performance without the Champagne dinner, the cost is only £89 per ticket.)
The Merry Widow is one of the gems of Viennese operetta, its dazzling success making Franz Lehar heir to Johann Strauss II. Reflecting the splendour of Imperial Vienna with its whirlwind of sumptuous parties and décor, the operetta stands out for the elegance and colour of an orchestration of symphonic scale—as enjoyable for those new to opera as it is for the ardent opera-goer, captivated by the richness of the score, from the famous ‘Song of Vilja’ to the ‘Pavilion Duet’ and the ‘Merry Widow Waltz’. This classic production is one to savour.
As witty as Lehar’s masterly score, visually ravishing, thoroughly entertaining, and shot through with charming detail and beguiling performances, it has Copley’s signature all over it, revealing why it is such a success, and why in its reincarnation by the English National Opera it wins classic status. Avant-garde it most definitely is not—but for a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a supremely uplifting way to enjoy Viennese music and dance at its best, this operetta will be fabulous.
It will be a great chance to see the critically acclaimed Sarah Tynan, stunning, silky-voiced and considered the best actress on the modern opera stage—no mean feat. Starring in the title role, this hugely talented soprano is the English prima donna, with radiance and comic timing as immaculate as her mastery of cascading runs and her shining top notes. Alongside her as Count Danilo is the charismatic Nathan Gunn, one of America’s most accomplished and in-demand baritones today. ‘Gunn commands an operatic baritone whose mighty heft and richness confer an outsize authority on everything it touches,’ writes the New York Times.
Andrew Shore, who plays Baron Zeta, is one of our great character actor-singers. He is in demand at opera houses from Bayreuth to Buenos Aires to Barcelona, but ENO is ‘the closest thing to feeling like a home company for me’, he says. As to the brilliant, in-demand Kristiina Poska, she will conduct the full orchestra of the English National Opera, the largest of its kind in Europe, with some 60 musicians. Now first kapellmeister at the Komische Oper, Berlin, Poska has established herself as an artistically imaginative interpreter. So, a chance to catch another bright talent as she conducts Lehar’s Merry Widow in this marvellous night of joyful operetta.
The date is Wednesday, March 6 and the performance starts at 7.30pm. Only a limited number of tickets are available, so if you would care to join us please book here for ticket-only at £89, or see code MW06CC04 for the full evening with Champagne Dinner at The Savoy Hotel.