Review by Willard Manus
LOS ANGELES-- THE MERRY WIDOW waltzed into the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Dec. 2 for a six-performance run through Dec. 22. Franz Lehar's
operetta stars Carol Vanessa and Rodney Gilfry, two local favorites.
Dean Peterson sings the role of Baron Zeta, with Operalia 2000 winner
Virginia Tola making her L.A. debut as Camille de Rosillon.
Tola, on the other hand, was in magnificent form over the course of Lehar's operetta, which was padded out by director Lotfi Mansouri twenty years ago to accomodate Joan Sutherland's performance at San Francisco Opera. Mansouri has kept the additions--choral numbers and dances from other of Lehar's works-- and while they lend music-hall glitz and sex to THE MERRY WIDOW, they make it unecessarily long and tacky. Lehar's story may be outdated but it still has charm and bite enough to engage, and his score is packed with marvelous melodies and arias. It's too bad that modern directors no longer seem to trust its satirical look at mankind's greedy quest for money and power.
Also excelling in
THE MERRY WIDOW were Jason Graae (whose comic turns as Njegus nearly stole
the show), Greg Fedderly, Louis Lebherz and Dean Peterson. Jessica Rivera,
Marnie Mosiman and Brooks Almy also did
John DeMain conducted
this Utah Opera production which was designed by