Renee Fleming assumes the titular role once more of The Merry Widow on Chicago. Franz Lehar’s most popular work to date. After a relatively successful run at the Metropolitan Opera early this 2015. The fantastic production is set to take their talents to Chicago for their next run. Lavish parties, exquisite ballgowns and flirtations. They abound the shenanigans going on. All to keep the Balkan state in the story alive.
What does the Balkan state of Pontevedro in question has to do with the widow aforementioned? The Merry Widow on Chicago is about Hanna Glawari. Recently widowed, she ended up with so much cash and property. Her estate is basically the only thing that’s keeping the economy of Pontevedro alive. And the locals are bent on keeping that money within the vicinity. With the state practically mired in debt. They need someone to keep their piggy back within the territory.
Enter Danilo Danilowitch. As to whether he had a relationship with Hanna in the past is not so clear. But Hanna’s poor status has caused him to shun her then. So some of the dignitaries in Pontevedro appealed to him to get that “mission” done. With Hanna living the “Parisian” life in the Balkan area. There would be frivolity entertwined with seduction. Add the antics of the Pontevedra ambassador, Baron Zeta and his wife Baroness Valencienne. There would be bedlam.
Director/Choreographer Susan Stroman led the crew at production of The Merry Widow on Chicago. It was the same creative team that she assembled in the Metropolitan Opera performance. The same team will be seen in action in the upcoming version at Lyric Opera of Chicago. To create a set reminiscent of Maxim’s in Paris. She put Julian Crouch of production design on The Merry Widow on Chicago. To create the most elaborate hats and ballgowns. She put William Ivey Long in charge of the costume department on The Merry Widow on Chicago. To take charge of the music. She assigned Sir Andrew Davis to be the conductor on The Merry Widow on Chicago.
William Ivey Long is a 6-time Tony Award winner. His most recent nomination is for the Tony Award nominee On The Twentieth Century. On The Twentieth Century starred Kristen Chenoweth. And his most recent hit on Broadway is It Shoulda Been You. Sierra Boggess was one of the main draws of It Shoulda Been You. Reading through his resume of previous productions. You can readily tell that Stroman that she chose well. With designs that can possibly rival the outfits in Downtown Abbey. The parties would definitely live up to their reputation of lavishness. Seeing these and more at The Merry Widow on Chicago would definitely be a visual treat.
The role of snobby lover-turned-fortune-hunter for hire though is given this time around to American baritone Thomas Hampson. Usually the baritone takes the role of a villain. This was not the case here in The Merry Widow on Chicago. Hampson’s roles varied from the triple threat baritone package in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. To the lecherous baron in Puccini’s Tosca. To the domineering patriarch in Verdi’s La Traviata. There may be some wicked streak in his role of Danilo. (Remember. He ditched Hanna when he found her to be a liability.) But knowing the kind of talent Hampson and audience impact he imparts in his performances. The Merry Widow on Chicago would surely be a comic and auditory treat.
In this vein, The Merry Widow takes us to the merry widow herself. Celebrated American soprano Renee Fleming will assume the role of rags-to-riches damsel Hanna Glawari. Once a regular in Metropolitan Opera’s previous productions, she comes over to Chicago to relive the role of Hanna. The Merry Widow as an operetta doesn’t get staged as often as it should anymore. And in the point of view of Stroman, Fleming was born to play this role. After having a brief stint on the Great White Way herself, she returns to the opera stage on Chicago. The great run she had at the Metropolitan Opera in the same role fueled the momentum. It serves as the fulcrum with which The Merry Widow on Chicago will be launched. And Renee Fleming would be at the helm raising her glass.
The Merry Widow on Chicago will officially start on November 14, 2015. Tickets are already available for sale. But since it’s already less than 3 months until the opening at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, might as well purchase the tickets as early as now. Click here while supplies last. For more details, you can follow Lyric Opera of Chicago at their respective social media accounts. Like them on Facebook. Make sure to follow them on Twitter and Instagram, too. Get in touch with them while you still can.
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