Several stand-out performances in UWOpera's The Merry Widow
- Written by Iain Paterson
The golden and halcyon days of the classical Viennese operetta represented by Strauss ll, von Suppé et al. were superceded by the Silver Age of operetta that flourished during the first quarter of the twentieth century as ushered in by native composers such as Stolz, Kálmán, and Franz Lehár. As a fin de siècle confection the Viennese operetta was still popular but now within the context of an overarching nostalgia: the longing for the effete sophistication and romance of High European Hapsburg society.
Lehár’s The Merry Widow (“Die lustige Witwe”) is still a huge crowd-pleaser notwithstanding its longevity and society’s protean exchanges of cultural and aesthetic tastes in music and morals. Judging from last night’s audience reaction this musical work has not shed any of its charm.
As far as operetta and opera plots go The Merry Widow is right up there with the best of them: flirtatious assignations, mixed signals, missed opportunities and redemption. It plumbs the depths of the darker and enlightened shades of our human condition with psychological realism as egos are unleashed, whetted, and seduced by the allure of ‘filthy lucre’ (in this case Pontevedrian billions). In true operetta fashion all is brought to a merry conclusion buoyed by Lehár’s refreshing and sparkling waltzes and melodies.
The stand-outs in UWOpera’s production of The Merry Widow at the Paul Davenport Theatre were several.
Josh Clemenger’s portrayal of Camille de Rosillon was a most satisfactory one. Emotionally involved with his character and equipped with a pleasant operatic voice, he presented an unaffected and genuine performance.
Mark Anthony del Brocco brought Baron Zeta’s stock comedic character very much to life with appropriate stylized gesticulation and blustering cuckoldry.
Jillian Clarke as Valencienne Zeta turned in a superb performance singing beautifully and acting her role with subtlety, control and confidence. Her poise and stage presence were impressive.
Evan Korbut’s Danilo Danilovitch was almost perfection. His character oozed charm as he swaggered about the stage with attitude and ease, yet with vulnerability too. Although his singing voice at times could have been stronger, there were moments when smooth and silk-like sounds were definitely audible and pleasantly memorable.
Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor who played Hanna Glawari (aka the Merry Widow) could belt out the musical numbers with no hesitation; a little more warmth and personality throughout her singing would have made for a more authentic and engaging performance. Sometimes the delivery of her lines appeared to lack dramatic intensity.
A strong chorus of singers, actors, and grisettes parisiennes successfully created the heady ambience of Paris a few years before the outbreak of World War One.
Choreographer Miranda Wickett’s and Director Michael Cavanagh’s production of The Merry Widow is a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable one. Humorous stage business executed as if all part of a musical waltz itself moved each of the scenes along seamlessly. Their interpolation of contemporaneous political material within the Urtext was not at all obtrusive. If it can work in G&S operettas why not here?
Each of the three acts was designed with its own original lighting, set and costuming, all providing visual cues most appropriate for this operetta’s time and space.
The orchestra under the baton of Judith Yan was too loud at times, almost rendering some of the singing unintelligible. That said, Lehár’s score was played with precision and musicality.
This Merry Widow took advantage of clever direction, pleasant singing and strong performances all of which producer Theodore Baerg can be proud. Many left the theatre humming Lehár’s infectious tunes, all the while being stared down by a larger-than-life projected image of Professor Baerg himself.
Huh? Go to the show and you’ll see what I mean!
There is one performance left today at 2:00pm Sunday, November 18. Tickets available at the door.
(Out of 4 Stars)
Iain Paterson is a Musical Theatre Performer and founder of The Broadway Singers.
Mozart's Requiem a collaborative effort
Orchestra London will have lots of musical company for Mozart's Requiem, its Masterworks Series concert this Saturday, March 8 at Centennial Hall.
Joining conductor Alain Trudel and the orchestra will be soprano Frédérique Vézina, mezzo-soprano Sophie Roland, bass Theodore Baerg, young tenor Isaiah Bell, and the Amabile Chamber Choir under the direction of Carol Beynon and Brenda Zadorsky.
In addition to the Requiem, the orchestra and its guests will be performing Mozart's Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter."
Register now for March Break, Spring and Summer pottery classes
The London Potters Guild is accepting registration for its Spring Session of pottery classes for adults, teens, children and parent/child which begin the week of March 17 and run for seven weeks. Registration for March Break, March 10-14, and Summer Clay Camps, which run in July and August, is also now open. All classes are held at the London Clay Art Centre at 664 Dundas Street.
Nooks n’ Crannies: Have You Heard of Willie Royal?
It’s not every day I’m asked to write a children’s book – about the Korean War.
The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, located in London’s historic Wolseley Barracks, is a hidden gem that, unfortunately, many Londoners have never visited. One could easily spend hours inside, learning the history of local soldiery from the War of 1812 through to the Afghanistan Conflict.
Somewhere in all these exhibits on cannons and campaigns, there is a photograph of a kneeling soldier and a smiling child. This is the touching story of an orphaned Korean boy who was, at least for a while, adopted by the Second Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, then seeing action north of Seoul. His actual name was Nong Joo Noh, but to the soldiers who looked after him he was “Willie Royal.”
The Hub comes to Old East Village
Followers of social media have probably noticed a new entry on their computer screens in the last couple of weeks.
Home to a large number of artists, performers, multicultural dining, the Western Fair Farmer’s and Artisans Market, unique shopping experiences, services and several arts and culture venues, Old East Village (OEV) is quickly becoming a vibrant and rapidly growing cultural district.
Thanks to the efforts of Old East Village advocates like the Palace Theatre's General Manager Faith Coates and long-time OEV resident Jo-Anne Bishop, an exciting new initiative -- the Old East Village Hub (OEV Hub) -- has been established to raise awareness of and provide information about "What's Good in the 'Hood.'"
Faith Coates and Jo-Anne Bishop recently spoke with The Beat Magazine Online about the OEV Hub and its mission to help make OEV London's art and cultural centre.