The Merry Widow

San Francisco Opera
On the night of December 25, 2002, many of the television stations affiliated with the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) broadcast a San Francisco Opera performance of Lehar’s The Merry Widow

Yvonne Kenny, in the title role, does not have a beautiful voice and appears older than is ideal for the role, but has an attractive stage presence that eventually won me over to her performance. 

Bo Skovhus, as Danilo, has an attractive voice and is very good-looking.  He was, in my opinion, the most satisfactory member of the cast.

I am very familiar with recordings of Die Lustige Witwe with sopranos such as Emmy Loose and Barbara Bonney in the role of Valencienne.  It is a mystery to me why the San Francisco Opera chose to cast a mezzo, Angelika Kirchschlager, in the role, since the sparkling duets with tenor Camille de Rossillon seem to call for a soprano soubrette, not a mezzo.  Nonetheless, Kirchschlager did a good job and created a sympathetic character, to the extent possible in such a story. 

Gregory Turay, a tenor that I liked very much in a live performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Boston’s Symphony Hall, did not make quite a strong enough impression as Camille.  He would have looked better without the pencil-line moustache.

The sets and costumes were especially good.  The performance held my attention throughout (which is a lot more than I can say of many recent Met television broadcasts) and was quite enjoyable.


Yvonne Kenny: Anna Glawari (The Merry Widow)

Bo Skovhus: Count Danilo Danilovitch

Angelika Kirchschlager: Valencienne

Gregory Turay: Camille de Rosillon

Carlo Hartmann: Baron Mirko Zeta

Elijah Chester: Njegus

Jonathan Boyd: Raoul de St. Brioche

Curtis Sullivan: Vicomte Cascada

Bob Amaral: Kromow

Marnie Breckenridge: Olga

William Saetre: Pritschitch

Jayne Taini: Praskowia

Peter Strummer: Bogdanovitch

Colleen McGrath: Sylviane

Virginia Pluth: A lady guest

Matt Logan: Maître d'hôtel

Janice Lynde: Zozo

Cynthia Drayer: Lolo

Ann Greene: Dodo

Debra Rose: Jou-Jou

Jodi Allen: Frou-Frou

Juliann Rhodes: Clo-Clo

Nora Heiber: Margot

Amanda Mckerrow, John Gardner: Solo dancers

San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Erich Kunzel: Guest Conductor
The Merry Widow [DVD] [2010] [NTSC],
Lehar -- Merry Widow / Kenny, Skovhus, Kirchschlager, Turay, Kunzel, San Francisco Opera, DVD,

Lehar;Franz Merry Widow [Import], DVD,