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 Lehar, The Merry Widow: Soloists,Orchestra and Chorus of Juventus Lyrica. Conductor: Carlos Calleja, Teatro Avenida, Buenos Aires. 28.8.2009. (JSJ) 

Director/sets: Ana D’Anna / Gui Gallardo
Costumes: Ponchi Morpurgo
Chorus: Miguel Pesce
Choreography: Igor Gopkalo

Hanna Glawari: Soledad de la Rosa / Eugenia Fuente
Count Danilo: Armando Noguera / Ernesto Bauer
Valencienne: Sonia Stelman / Laura Polverini
Ambassador Mirko Zeta: Carlos Rivas
Camille: Sebastián Russo / Leonardo Pohl / Matías Tomasetto
Njegus: Norberto Lara
Kromow: Santiago Ballerini
Brioche: Hernán Sánchez Arteaga
Bognowitsch: Juan Feico
Cascada: Santiago Tiscornia / Alejandro Ferraina

Soledad de la Rosa (Hannah) and Armando Noguera (Danilo)

Continuing its 10th anniversary season Juventus Lyrica brought a change of tack with its latest production of Lehar’s masterpiece, The Merry Widow. Presented in its original German, this is a fun work – and everyone seemed to have fun, performers and audience alike.

But fun though this work may be it still needs appropriate care in its presentation and this production largely received that care. Best described as “traditional” in concept, the scenery was a simple building front with a walkway, and entirely appropriate for a reception area, either internal or external at the embassy. However, with the same “building” serving for Hanna’s residence in Act 2 and Maxim’s in Act 3 one could be forgiven for not realizing the settings are meant to be entirely different. The “traditional” also extended to the dress – long gowns for the women and evening or military dress for the men.

The casting was also well done, including some of the company’s most experienced singers with Argentines who have made their careers overseas. Of these the Germany-based Carlos Rivas, who has specialised in operettas, was an appropriate Mirko (a passing resemblance to an acquaintance of middle European origin notwithstanding), and Sonia Stelman was a mischievous Valencienne.

Soledad de la Rosa was excellent as Hannah, if anything more serious than “merry”, but with a fine presence and strong voice. Paris-based Armando Noguera was also good as Danilo, although maybe a touch too rakish as if the playboy rather than the unrequited lover. Sebastián Russo’s Camille was too touchy-feely for my taste but of course he got his way with Valencienne, and Mirko’s sidekick Njegus was well played by Norberto Lara.

The chorus were spirited, and the orchestra, notably the majority young players, played with vigour under Maestro Calleja.

Jonathan Spencer Jones

Picture courtesy of Juventus Lyrica Buenos Aires

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