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  • Lehar - The Merry Widow / Bonynge, Sutherland, Stevens, Opera Australia
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Lehar - The Merry Widow / Bonynge, Sutherland, Stevens, Opera Australia

36 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

Lehar - The Merry Widow / Bonynge, Sutherland, Stevens, Opera Australia + Lehar: The Merry Widow + Lehar - Merry Widow / Kenny, Skovhus, Kirchschlager, Turay, Kunzel, San Francisco Opera
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Turn of the century Paris provides the glittering setting for this light hearted tale of political and amorous intrigue amidst the gaiety of Parisian high society.

Amazon.com

This production of Lehar's The Merry Widow is a mixed bag, appropriate, perhaps, for a work of art that is both sublime and ridiculous. Its weakest element is the presence of Joan Sutherland, which will undoubtedly attract the most buyers. Still, viewers will replay it often (perhaps bypassing some of Sutherland's numbers) for the sake of its lavish production, particularly for the abundant, polished, and colorful dance numbers.

The 1988 performance, by the Australian Opera in the elegant Sydney Opera House, dates from the end of Sutherland's career, and it leaves one wondering whether she should have retired a bit sooner, while at the same time treasuring every moment in the presence of one of the unique voices of the 20th century. There are moments of beauty in her singing, but intonation and support are both variable. The supporting cast, including Ronald Stevens, Anne-Maree McDonald, and Anson Austin, is generally adept, though some gags (especially the Pontevedran accents) may seem overworked. --Joe McLellan


Special Features

  • Sung in English

Product Details

  • Actors: Joan Sutherland, Ron Stevens, Anne Maree McDonald, Anson Austin, Gordon Wilcock
  • Directors: Virginia Lumsden
  • Writers: Christopher Hassall, Leo Stein, Viktor Léon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RIXJ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,792 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Lehar - The Merry Widow / Bonynge, Sutherland, Stevens, Opera Australia" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Irreverent on January 22, 2002
Format: DVD
The video and sound are scrumptious, Lehar's music is as appealing and lively as ever, and the supporting cast is fine. The costumes, scenery, and choreography are marvelous.

HOWEVER -- Sutherland was almost 62 when she did this, and was no longer physically or musically worthy of this role. Her voice is weak, wavering, off-key. She is too heavy and lacking in energy to be a sprightly merry widow. This might be tolerable in a cameo appearance for old time's sake, but not in the starring role that overshadows all other parts. I want my money back.

Why did Sutherland ever go along with releasing this blemish on her heavenly legacy of masterpieces? Did she long to experience once more the intoxication of the fawning crowds and adulation her name alone might bring? Was it money? Even if Sutherland and hubby Bonynge (the conductor) were contentedly rich from their many deserving efforts of previous decades, others might have pressed for one more big profit. Too bad.

Clearly, it must have been Sutherland's star power and birthplace, not the actual performance, which had the crowd in her hometown (Sydney) cheering and applauding so wildly. I cannot believe that they (or any knowledgeable reviewer with normal hearing) could honestly enjoy Sutherland's embarrassing performance, which someone along the way should have withheld from release.

UPDATE: We no longer have much reason to buy this DVD. Not only is the San Francisco Opera's four-star English performance now on the market, but five-star versions in German (the original language almost always fits the music and rhythm better) are available. The Zürich production (
...Read more ›
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 24, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I absolutely love this opera and this video of it. Joan Sutherland and Ronald Stevens are great together. Although Sutherland is a bit older, it is still Sutherland and her voice IS the Countess. Ronald Stevens is gorgeous with a voice to match. It is better than anything that is being put out now and beats the Merry Widow that the Met did. Own it.
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Harold G. Cutler on March 13, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Sorry, The Merry Widow is a delightsome Operetta, but Joan Sutherland is past her prime for such a part. Her singing starts out wavering and slightly off key. She is too old and too big to carry off the dances. Ronald Stevens did a good job, but could not carry Joan Sutherland. (no pun intended) We will just have to wait for a newer singer, better suited for this Operetta. Help, will someone produce a bubbly good Merry Widow.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Sunar Tjahjono on May 18, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Although it is true that Joan Sutherland seemed too old for this part as Madame Glawari, however her acting and voice is still superb. Ignoring this condition, the operette itself was shown marvelously in colors, scenery and costumes. Also the ballet and dancing give us much enjoyment too watch this video. It was a real amusement to see the funny situation and words, as it is sung in English and quite understandable. All in short, we need only enjoy the music, scenery (which is superb), costumes and other singers who participate their own credit to this operette.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Hart on August 28, 2004
Format: DVD
I didn't like it, but the audience in Australia certainly did. Sutherland sang only one thing (in my opinion) poorly, and that was I think the last number in the show, what is commonly called The Merry Widow Waltz. She sang it in her "low voice" (to take an expression from Kiri Te Kanawa) and I didn't like it. The rest of it (what there WAS of it!) was wonderful. Too much dialogue. Too much farce (it was stupid). I've heard several different versions of this score, and except a few tunes, they all seem to have different songs in them. Which reminds me, my preference (even over Sutherland) is Studer's CD of this show. Glorious! I may be mistaken, but I think, in fact am almost positive, that some of the songs were cut (to make room for that boring, idiotic dialogue? And what was the point of all the dancing, the choreography of which was NOT particularly enthralling?). Finally, it was a pleasure, a treasure to hear Sutherland talk in English at great length, she is one of my favorite people, and now at last I know what her speaking voice sounded like. The English lyrics were pedestrian, and they might as well have left it all in German it was so hard to understand what anyone was saying. I liked the 3rd act the best. And I knew I was in trouble (like a dish of cold water in the face) when Danilo spoke instead of singing his first number. Bleah!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Vacano on February 4, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a delightful treat, as much a musical comedy as a ballet. The history of "The Merry Widow" is interesting. It was an operetta written by Franz Lehar in Austria in 1905, and it ran for over 700 performances in London. It was also very popular in Berlin during and following World War I. This is not slender women in tutus... a whole troupe of army officers dance the Czarda and Mazurka, for example. Furthermore, the cast is able to tell the story without saying a word. The fact that, over 100 years later, it is still around, attests to its popularity.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rudolf Spoerer on February 7, 2003
Format: DVD
There certainly are a lot of warts on this Australian production, and to blame them all on Joan Southerland is, I think misguided..... I mean even the editorial review is less than flattering to the aging diva ... meeoww meowww ... little plate of milk for, on the floor though, the ed reviewers .....
This is one of the very very few DVD's of this opera and that is what makes it enjoyable, to be able to at least see in in your home. The dance numbers are exquisite and as a whole the lighting and video are excellent....
If there is a down on this DVD well I am disgusted that it was only cut in two channel Dolby ... what ... 2 channels ... I didn't even know there was a dvd available in 2 channel stereo ... WOW what a bummer ...
As a die hard audiophile I couldn't take it and left the room ... but my wife and all her friends who are card carrying, season ticket opera NUTS ... all enjoyed the DVD ... go figure ....
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Lehar - The Merry Widow / Bonynge, Sutherland, Stevens, Opera Australia
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