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Sunday, January 18, 2015


Composed by Austro-Hungarian Franz Lehar in 1905 as Die Lustige Witwe (provides a short introduction to this light opera plot, and listen to a two hour CD featuring Pacido Domingo), this light opera is better known as The Merry Widow (TMWwatch Placido Domingo in this 2011 Toronto version, about 2.5 hours long).  Here is a 1996 three hour show by the New York City Opera, and if you're really into TMW, a full 1.5 hours with Beverley Sills.
There have been five TMW films, with my favorite the 1934 production with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette Macdonald.  The score includes:
Somehow, the music from the 1958 Gigi sounds awfully similar to TMW.  However, I could not find any link between the two, aside from the fact that Paris was the backdrop and Maurice Chevalier starred in both.

Anyway, all the above was to set the stage for the three choices I had yesterday:
  • Watch for FREE at 15 Craigside, Warriora 2011 film about mixed martial arts, gaining 83% reviewers and 92% audience ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, where Nick Nolte got an academy award nomination.  The commute is down the elevator and popcorn is served free.
  • Listen to The Merry Widow on my PBS radio station, again for FREE, of the Metropolitan Opera live transmission.  I thus could make my own popcorn, and with a glass of Chardonnay.
  • Drive to the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium to watch this live performance.  Turns out the cost was $22 for the ticket, $7 for an Icee, and only because at the box office I got a coupon for a FREE small bag of popcorn, saving $6.25.  Cheap, relative to flying to New York City and paying $50-$300 for just a seat, if any might be available.  This same assemblage will perform four more times this month.
This Metropolitan Opera production of The Merry Widow features Renee Fleming (sure you remember her--she sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl last year) and Nathan Gunn:

Kelli O'Hara (she was Nellie Forbush in Lincoln Center's South Pacific which I attended in 2010)  as Valencienne was good casting.  She and Fleming (left) look like twins, but they have totally different bodies. I was astonished that the largest theater in the complex was almost entirely full, so I had to sit in the front row, and while you get enveloped by the screen, this is something I can't recommend, for my neck got strained just trying to look up.  To summarize:
  • The average age of the audience was older than me.
  • Here is a clip of the rehearsal period for this show.
  • They had subtitles in English.  For a while I couldn't quite understand what language was being sung, but finally figured out it was English.  So why?  Anyway, when they spoke French, the subtitles were in French.  Makes little sense to me.
  • The whole program lasted just about 3 hours, with one intermission, where the two  sweating stars were interviewed.  It was also interesting to watch the crew change the scenery.  A lot of people and considerable technology.
  • The audience in the theater clapped like they were there at that New York City performance.
  • The production was grand, costumed and wonderful.  The sound system was excellent.
  • I also had a backstage pass via the magic of communication technology.
  • No one eats popcorn at the Met Opera, and they dress up too much.  By the way, I improved my Pina Colada ICEE with a small bottle of rum.
  • Actually, the telecast wasn't live, as it was performed at 12:55 EST that day, which would have been 7:55 AM Hawaii time.  So it was delayed to 12:55 PM here.
  • I had previously been to University of Hawaii football games in movie theaters, and it was nice not to have to scrounge for parking and fight the crowd trying to get home.  Similarly, this operatta, or more, long light opera, shared with an appreciative crowd, was immensely enjoyable.
In two weeks this theater will show the next Metropolitan Opera presentation, a live telecast of Les Contes d'Hoffmann, or The Tales of Hoffmann (based on three short stories by E.T.A Hoffmann), composed by Jacques Offenbach in 1881.  You all know The Barcarolle, here a 1988 Met performance.


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