THE HANGOVER REPORT – Susan Graham headlines a relatively MERRY WIDOW at the Met

Susan Graham in Lehár’s "The Merry Widow" at the Metropolitan Opera.

Susan Graham in Lehár’s “The Merry Widow” at the Metropolitan Opera.

Last night at the Metropolitan Opera, I caught the return of Susan Stroman’s production of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow. I had seen the popular operetta twice before, once with the lovely Elizabeth Futral as Hanna Glawari (the titular “merry widow”) in Gary Griffin’s staging for the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2010, and the other occasion with the much-loved opera superstar Renée Fleming when the Stroman production premiered in 2015 at the Met.

Last night’s revival was led by one of the grand dames of the opera world, veteran American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (I had oh-so-memorably seen her and Ms. Fleming in my very first opera, Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera). If Ms. Graham, no stranger to Hanna Glawari, performed in a manner that tactfully evaded the glamour of Ms. Fleming or even Ms. Futral’s approach to the role, she exuded an easy charm and warmth that fit the character quite well. If anything, her performance was the perfect antidote for the current frigid temperatures facing the east coast. Musically, Ms. Graham sounded quite lovely, her voice still radiating a natural bloom that filled the huge auditorium beautifully.

Even if Ms. Stroman’s appealing, straight-forward production falls just short of real enchantment – I had felt the same way about the staging when it premiered two years ago (operetta is tough to pull off in such a large house) – the supporting cast more than held their own. Of note were Canadian soprano Adriana Churchman as Valencienne (in sparkling voice) and Sir Thomas Allen as Baron Zeta (an ideal, hilarious cuckold). The excellent Met Orchestra sounded bright and buoyant under the baton of conductor Ward Stare.



The Metropolitan Opera
2 hours, 45 minutes (with one intermission)
Through January 11

Categories: Music, Opera, Other Music

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