"I have heard this and a comtemporary production by the Vienna Volksoper (same season). While I think the Staatsoper is the greatest opera house in the world, they have abandonned the tradition of operetta style, so wonderfully present in the Volksoper production. This is a performance that is well nigh perfect with a totally miscast Skovhus, possibly the greatest Don Giovanni of our time, but at a loss of what to do with the music of Danilo. While the orchestral style is there it is not because of the conductor. Tempos are too fast, too strict, and inflection is typical of British recordings of this wonderful opera/operetta. Remember Lehar is credited as the inventor of the "slow waltz! I hope the Staasoper will let a conductor who understands the tradition lead perfomances in this and future seasons. It finally has found a home at the Staatsoper, but seems more at home at the Volksoper. The production at the Volksoper was better sung in all parts, especially the magnicant singing and characterization of Adolf Dallapozza (a tenor) and the traditional voice for this part. Remember most of the subsequent roles by Lehar were written for Tauber.I purchased this recording, but listen to an old Volksoper excerpts reissue with joy and this one with respect. I prefer joy."
A lovely set
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This recording stands out for its lush background and dramatic detail. Evey moment is filled with revelers, picknickers, Grisettes etc. Gardiner is in excellent form in this recording, with the orchestra kept in fresh and exciting tone. The soloists are very well-coached in German, and the spoken passages are filled with great emotion. Cheryl Studer is in fine voice, and manages to shade with pianissimo well, even though she is a little breathy, and raw at times. Her vocal acting is superb, and this recording should go down as one of the best performances of this (and maybe any) soprano in terms of characterization. Bo Skovhus is ok in the role of Danilo, but his high notes wobble too much. His saving grace is his acting as well, especially in Act III when he and Hannah declare their love for each other. The rest of the cast is top notch, with wonderful tenderness given to the vocal line when it is called for."
Witty, wonderful "Widow"
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 10/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE MERRY WIDOW happily returns to it's Viennese origins with this lovely recording. Although most prefer the English-translated version of the score, I do love the original Franz Lehar "pure version".
The cast is very good, with Cheryl Studer a vocally-capable Hanna; and Boje Skovhus makes the one-dimensional Count Danilo spring to life with a cheeky perfomance. Barbara Bonney and Rainer Trost come across very well too (with the subplot of Valencienne and her erstwhile lover Camille). The musical direction of John Eliot Gardner and the Wiener Philharmonic is sensational.
This studio recording presents the score complete with copious amounts of dialogue, so it's almost like attending a stage performance. Included is a large booklet containing the libretto, singer biographies, and a history of the show and it's composer.
[Deutsche Grammophon 439 911-2]"
Sparkling, Brilliant Production
Pitti-Sing | Titipu, Japan | 09/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First a disclaimer: I am a teenage music student and not a "qualified," per se, music critic. I think, though, that I fairly represent many lay opera fans in my opinions, so I hope my review will be worthwhile.
The only recording I have compared this to is the Schwarzkopf recording & the video with Joan Sutherland. I prefer this to both because, although I am aware that the Schwarzkopf version is acclaimed, I found the comic aspect of it overdone...it seemed they focused more on that than the beauty of the voices. John Eliot Gardener's productions (at least, the many I have heard) always seem to be compiled of the most gorgeous voices of the century. The Sutherland performance was good, but I thought that the lack of the charm of the original German made it sparkle less. So onto the pros and cons of this recording.
Bryn Terfel as Zita! Usually the Gilbertian, patter-baritone comic man gets this role; now we have it with someone who can actually sing! I never realized how beautiful his first solo is...Terfel can make any tune attractive. His acting is admittedly, a little over-the-top, but isn't that expected in an operetta?
Barbara Bonney as Valancienne! Bonney is not suited for every role, but she is flawless in this one. Her pristine, light voice brings out all the flirtasiousness of her character, and she plays off a lovely Camille.
Cheryl Studer...I have utmost respect for this great singer, but, let's face it, she can be annoying as Hanna. Her vocal acting seems to consist mainly (in this role) of reaching high notes and getting quieter, almost whiney, on them. It makes me want Joan Sutherland to get back on the scene. She's not bad, and the voice itself is lovely, but she can get monotinous in the comical aspects.
Bo Skovhus...a good, in-character Danilo...I was never really a big Danilo fan, so I'm no real crtitic. His aria ("Lolo, Dodo, Jou-jou, Clou-clou, Margot, Frou-Frou") was entertaining if not brilliant.
Aside from the cast - and they are all good, though Valancienne, Camille, and Zita will likely be most memorable - I adore Gardener's conducting. The tempos, to my unqualified ear, are never too fast or two slow, and the orchestra and chorus are clear and clean. The chorus number before "Viljia" is just chilling in its loveliness.
Personally, I wouldn't own any other recording! Highly recomended."
Need more stars!
Mircea Petrescu | 11/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For such a work of art like The Merry Widow, we actually need more stars - 5 seems not quite enough. It's one of the greatest Operetta's ever written, the music is great, the libretto is lots of fun and the recording is amazing. I totally recomend this CD to anybody who is interested in Operetta, Franz Lehar, great performances of the Vienna Philarmonic Orchestra and probably the true sound of the beginning of the 20th century."