Lehar: Die lustige Witwe

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Lehar
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Die lustige Witwe
PERFORMER: Felicity Lott, Thomas Hampson, Elzbieta Szmytka, John Aler, Dirk Bogarde (narrator)Glyndebourne Chorus, London Philharmonic/Franz Welser-Möst
CATALOGUE NO: CDS 5 55152 2 DDD
The warmth and charm of Lehár’s score is positively cherishable in this concert performance recorded last summer when Glyndebourne Festival Opera took up temporary residence at London’s South Bank. This ‘limited edition’ contains Tom Stoppard’s specially written narration, created as a substitute for the German dialogue, wryly related by Dirk Bogarde. Those who saw the Festival Hall performances will want this unabridged version of the evening: otherwise the narration can be programmed in or out on most CD players. EMI is releasing a single CD with music only, this month, CDC 5 55141 2.

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The Widow and Count Danilo are vividly brought to life by Lott and Hampson. Lott does take the first act to settle into the role but from her opening Vilja’s Song of Act II she is in stunning form.

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Hampson is a superb Danilo, relishing his hedonistic ‘Da geh’ ich zu Maxim’ moments – optimum characterisation and musical panache. Szmytka’s enchanting Valencienne, vocally stronger on this disc than at the performance, with Aler’s engaging, bright Camille, deliver several tender and amusing exchanges. The cast is strong throughout, with the chorus and orchestra giving wonderfully paced, spirited performances motivated by Welser-Möst. He must take much of the credit for this stylish performance.