05/11/2011 from Polina R and Larisa K The Merry Widow, one of the best-loved operettas on one of the most breathtaking stages in the world: Sydney Opera House in Sydney Harbour
It was a day Larisa will never forget. She won two tickets for The Merry Widow at Sydney Opera House. I was delighted when Larisa invited me to go with her. Neither of us has ever been to Sydney and to see the busiest performing arts centre in the world was something to look forward.
The Opera House is a masterpiece of late modern architecture. It is located to the North from the Sydney city centre. It lies northeast of Circular Quay, Sydney's waterside transport hub, and across the water from the historic Rocks area. The Rocks, a 19th century village hemmed in by Sydney Cove, lies in the shadow of the southern end of the Harbour Bridge. This is the birthplace of modern-day Australia, Captain Arthur Phillip having settled here in 1788. From this, today’s Sydney has grown.
On approaching the Sydney Opera House our attention was drawn to its well known white roofs that are made of 2,194 pre-cast concrete sections. Each section weighs up to 15 tons and they are held together by 350 km of tensioned steel cable. Amazing, isn’t it?
The Opera House is a complex of theatres and halls linked together beneath its famous shells. It is about 185 m long and 120m wide at its widest point.
Please click here to see more photos made by Polina and Larisa
The performance started at 7.30. We occupied our seats and were delighted to find that they were in the very centre of the stalls. We are sending many thanks to the providers of the tickets.
The Merry Widow is one of the world’s favourite operettas written by Franz Lehar. The Merry Widow was his greatest hit, a success from its first performance in 1905. His music is rich in colour with melodies that have stood the test of time and remained lively and captivating. A number of the most famous pieces have carved themselves a place in the popular repertoire, including Hanna’s ballad, ‘Vilja, O Vilja’, ‘You’ll find me at Maxim’s’ and the Merry Widow Waltz.
The Merry Widow is a love story. The family of Count Danilo does not allow him to ask for the hand of a simple girl called Hanna in marriage. Hanna then marries a wealthy banker who dies on their wedding night. She becomes a rich widow with no lack of suitors. Wounded by her speedy marriage, Danilo has taken to drink and women in an attempt to forget her. However, as you would expect there is the traditional happy ending with love conquering everything.
The Merry Widow was a splendid production in three acts. The costumes sparkled, the voices soared and the music was enchanting.
The principals turned in enjoyable performances, with the exciting voices of Amelia Farrugia as Hanna, the wise and beautiful widow, and Luke Gabbedy as Danilo, the lofty idealist, ringing out with ease to the back rows.
Amelia Farrugia a fascinating Australian-born soprano delivered coloratura set pieces with liveliness and accuracy.
Australian baritone Luke Gabbedy’sdiction was the most successful, his lines clearly reaching every part of the house. He sang with ease and his voice throughout was of luxurious quality.
We left the Opera House in good spirits and Hanna’s ballad, ‘Vilja, O Vilja’ was ringing in our ears till late at night.
We thank the Bohemian Rhapsody Club and our sponsors (NM: Opera Australia) for giving us a great chance to see a wonderful operetta at The Sydney Opera House.
Larisa Kozynina Polina Roussou
Amelia Farrugia and Luke Gabbedy (opera singers, The Merry Widow)