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  • Franz Lehar - La Veuve Joyeuse ("The Merry Widow" French Version)
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Franz Lehar - La Veuve Joyeuse ("The Merry Widow" French Version)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Veronique Gens, Gordon Gietz, Magali Léger, François Le Roux, Gérard Korsten
  • Directors: Macha Makeïeff
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: French, English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Erato Disques
  • DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002S9USTE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,698 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

It's creme chantilly rather than schlagobers as the greatest Viennese operetta of the 20th century goes back to its literary roots and is presented in French guise by the Opera de Lyon.


The heroine of La Veuve Joyeuse is called Missia Palmieri, but she had started off in 1905 as Hanna Glawari in Vienna, where this operetta is known as Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow); its French permiere followed in 1909. The story of the merry widow and her rekindled romance with dissipated displomat Count Danilo takes places in Paris- notably chez Maxim's in the final act- and in fact has its roots in a French play, L'attache d'ambassade by Henri Meilhac. With Ludovic Halevy, Meilhac was the librettist of Carmen, a number of Offenbach's operettas and a play called Le Revillon, which forms the basis of that other supreme Viennese operetta Die Fledermaus. Johan Strauss' waltzes and polkas were clearly an influence on Lehar, but his sumptuous and often touching score also frequently furnishes reminders that he was a contemporary of both Richard Strauss and Giacomo Puccini.


This production, mounted in December 2007 at the Opera de Lyon (the source of Virgin Classic's DVD of Offenbach's La Vie Parisienne in a riotous contemporary updating by Laurent Pelly) is by the French director Macha Makeleff. She treats the work as the masterpiece it is: "Macha Makeleff's reading...turns its back on the conventions of operetta frippery, of musical champagne bubbles to keep the crowds happy...In defining the personalities of the two lovers- two wounded birds who have put up barriers to protect themselves from love- she brings depth and gravity to the work, giving it a new stature." (Le Pregres)


In the role is the leading French lyric soprano, the graceful Veronique Gens, whose two Tragedienne recitals are on Virgin Classics; her Danilo is the dashing British baritone Ivan Ludlow, while the roles of the secondary pair of errant lovers are played by the Canadian tenor Gordon Gietz and the delightful Magali Leger, with the latter's long-suffering husband portrayed by Francoix Le Roux, a proverbially elegant and witty singer. Conducting is Gerard Korsten, born in South Africa but with long experience as both a student and performer in Austria, notably Salzburg.

Customer Reviews

The costumes were mediocre.
Steve Perlowski
Non c'è divertimento e quando si pretende che ci sia (vedi gli interventi di Figg a sipario chiuso) lo stimolo è solo il vomito.
Oppicelli Ernesto
Then, for choreography, we get a lot of prancing from non-Pontevedrian dancers in short skirts and high button shoes.
Larry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Larry on February 11, 2010
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Remember the good old days when a competent director staged a musical, and the piece seemed to work like clockwork? They were the good old days and they are no more. Now companies are hiring fools who are both incompetent and tasteless. This production appears to be by a director who feels a foolproof work like Lehar's champagne operetta needs to be fixed or commented on: durng the opening music we get to watch hunters cross the stage before the curtain rises, which makes no sense to me and then we get one big fat ugly troll wandering through the performance, watching and occasionally commenting to the audience. Then, for choreography, we get a lot of prancing from non-Pontevedrian dancers in short skirts and high button shoes. There's also a lot of over-choreographed duets. After the opening of Act Two, which had none of the magic of an evening party with a summerhouse in the background, I stopped enjoying the piece and began to hate it. The louche atmosphere of Act Three was too louche, Lautrec, and by then I wanted the choreographer dead, the director's head hanggn over my mantelpiece, and a good old-fashioned competently staged production that did not continue to say to me, isn't this slly?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Steve Perlowski on March 3, 2010
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My favorite operetta: a disaster. I never would have expected to so look forward to its ending.

With the exceptions of both Veronique Gens and Magali Leger, the singing in this performance was betwixt and between. The minimalist set (along with the choreography) contributed very little to the playful and high spirited context that ordinarily hems the edges of this fun operetta. The costumes were mediocre. And [with the notable exception (again) of Magali Leger] the acting, along with the attractiveness of the principals, left something to be desired. [Good looks don't matter so much in opera, but in musicals and operetta they do. But to be fair, the costumes, especially the orange flapper outfit that Ms. Gens had to wear, wouldn't have made too many females look very good].

The coup de grace for my heavy-handed lone star review, however, spins out of the fact that the "product details," stated, incorrectly, that this production is in English, with English and French subtitles. The production is actually in French, and the only English spoken occurred in a couple of snippets by a curious emcee-type who wandered, briefly, in and out of a few of the scenes. The English subtitles were displayed only during the singing, and since, at least, half of the words of this operetta occur in (non-subtitled) speaking situations, unless one is fluent in French, understanding is limited.

All in all, if you're looking for a good "Merry Widow," I would first recommend the subtitled widescreen German version with Dagmar Schellenberger, a close second would be the 1934 movie with Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier, although this fullscreen black and white video cries out for a Criterion re-mastering. And lastly, there is a decent widescreen (it's mislabeled as 4:3) Morbisch production with Margarita De Arellano. [I never really cared for the San Francisco Opera's English-language production with Yvonne Kenny].
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Classics Lover on January 12, 2010
I'm so glad that this opera is now out on DVD. I saw this production when Veronique Gens was performing and left the opera with my jaw on the floor. It was beautiful an amazing production and so happy that now I can watch it on a lazy sunday with a cup of coffee!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SyrinxGC on March 12, 2013
My titles says it all!
Come on - the dialog is in French!
Except for that: Good technical quality. Much better sound than most older releases on DVD.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Oppicelli Ernesto on January 29, 2010
LA VEUVE JOYEUSE - Opèra de Lyon, 2006
Dir. mus. Gérard Korsten
Mise en scène, adaptation des dialogues, décors et
costumes: Macha Makeïeff

Ecco un altro esempio di come si può rendere intollerabile
un capolavoro a causa delle inutili strambe sciocchezze registiche
che, totalmente prive di humour, intervengono senza posa con la
colpa di annoiare senza senso e, quel ch'è peggio, far sembrare la
musica come un'intrusa. Tutto si svolge in un avvilente cattivo
gusto, si recita male, si canta senza fremiti. Gli interpreti sono
pure antipatici (si potrebbe fare un'eccezione per Magali Léger,
qui Nadia cioè Valencienne) e, penso, credono poco a quel che
devono fare. Non c'è divertimento e quando si pretende che ci sia
(vedi gli interventi di Figg a sipario chiuso) lo stimolo è solo il
vomito. I brani musicali non sono quasi mai applauditi! Il
pubblico alla fine applaude, eccome!, sembra contento di aver visto
cosa mai l' "intelligenza" arrivi a fare. Per me è stato duro arrivare
alla fine: non sono un masochista, ma volevo poi - POI - tirare
un sospiro di sollievo: come i francesi avrei voluto dire `m.....'
ma non l'ho detto, ma pensarlo è un po' la stessa cosa.
Un'altra bestiale edizione di questa straordinaria operetta la
vidi anni fa in diretta tv dallo Staatsoper di Vienna: è tutto dire!
I grandi teatri sembrano godere nel distruggere le belle cose e
pagano fior di quattrini questi personaggi che credono così di
rivitalizzare quello che vive già così bene così com'è.
Read more ›
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