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Review Roundup: See What Critics Said of English National Opera's THE MERRY WIDOW

Review Roundup: See What Critics Said of English National Opera's THE MERRY WIDOW

At the Embassy Ball, wealthy widow, Hanna Glawari, leads her society suitors on a merry dance. But how will she win Danilo who counts her riches worthless?

Making their ENO debuts with Franz Lehár's classic are director Max Webster (The Lorax at Old Vic) and Estonian conductor Kristiina Poska.

As the vivacious Hanna, Sarah Tynan returns for her second major appearance of the season. She is joined by Nathan Gunn as Danilo, while Andrew Shore plays the pompous Zeta. Robert Murray features as Camille de Rosillon, and Rhian Lois as Valencienne.

Let's see what the critics had to say...


Julian Glover, Evening Standard: Its lovely music burbles along in a way that's hard not to fall for - as confidently Edwardian as the vast Coliseum, where the English National Opera's new production opens on Friday. You can almost smell the musty fur coats and top hats and hear the clink of champagne flutes. Even if you don't know the tunes, you'll find yourself humming.

George Hall, The Stage: There are good things along the way: Nathan Gunn's suave, matinee-idol Danilo, Rhian Lois' singing and especially dialogue as Valencienne, Andrew Shore's silly-old-fool Baron Zeta, and the conducting of Kristiina Poska. But it's not nearly enough.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian: The new translation, with the book by the playwright April De Angelis and lyrics by Richard Thomas, a co-creator of Jerry Springer: The Opera and librettist for Mark-Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole, is certainly ribald, but also places an almost relentless emphasis on the operetta's subtext. That Hanna Glawari's millions permit her autonomy in, and control over, a men's world, is perfectly clear from the outset and doesn't need to be so heftily stressed.

Michael Church, The Independent: The essence of this much-loved operetta lies in its elegance and grace, in its sophisticated and suggestive orchestration, and its immortal melodies. Who doesn't melt, at least a little, when the 'Merry Widow Waltz' embarks on its tender course? Conductor Kristiina Poska is more alert to the nuances in the score than choreographer Lizzie Gee is, with her over-busy numbers for Hanna's top-hatted suitors and the posse of scarlet-clad Hanna lookalikes who bump and grind. On the other hand the can-can at Maxim's is a suitably enthusiastic riot, even if the male dancers in their leather nappies are more than a trifle fey.

Johnny Fox, The Londonist: As the widow herself, the impeccable Sarah Tynan has more fun than is decent, glorying in her South London vowels and teetering between high glamour and early Madonna tartiness. Her on/off relationship with louche Count Danilo - Nathan Gunn in splendid voice - mirrors Carrie and Big in Sex and the City, and this production is all the more accessible for it.

Chris Selman, Gay Times: For those with any reservations about a night at the opera, we'd like to make something abundantly clear - ENO's new production of The Merry Widow is the campest, funniest and most accessible opera we've ever had the pleasure of reviewing. Those expecting to see a traditional piece of high art will be surprised with this modernised adaptation, with its contemporary references and more-is-more approach to entertainment value.

Photo Credit: Clive Barda

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