Opera Scotland

Lustige Witwe 1945Jack Hylton

Read more about the opera Merry Widow

When Sadler's Wells Opera launched its famous new staging in 1958, it was directed by Charles Hickman and conducted by Alexander Gibson.  It employed a new translation by Christopher Hassall, which treated the original Viennese text with some respect.  Until then, performances in Britain had employed a version with a book by Basil Hood, who was a well-known West End wordsmith who had provided libretti for Arthur Sullivan and Edward German.  He had also provided performing versions for several Viennese operettas.  His adaptation of The Merry Widow, with song lyrics by Adrian Ross,  had opened in 1907.

What seems odd about the Hood version, still in use for this 1945 tour, is the wholesale changes made to the names of characters.  Clearly some of these are to make them sound more mellifluous (eg Pritschitsch), but most seem unnecessary.  Baron Mirko Zeta and his wife Valencienne become Baron Popoff and Natalie, while Hanna Glawari is renamed simply as Sonia.  Count Danila is promoted to Prince, while Camille to Rosillon becomes Vicomte Camille de Jolidon, and Njegus becomes Nisch.  Kromow and Bogdanowitsch, the two Embassy officials, are merged, as M Khadja with one wife (Madam Khadja).  There is still a military official, but he is General Nova Kovich, not Pritschitsch,  His wife is Madam Nova Kovich.  Two of the wives names appear - Sylviane and Praskowia - but they are not attached to husbands, and Olga disappears altogether.  All very confusing.

 

Press Opinion

Glasgow Herald:  Tuesday, 11 September 1945 (p3)

The Merry Widow

'After about 40 years of the lilt and laughter of The Merry Widow, the only criticism to be made of it is that it was a favourite of Hitler.

'How else should one explain the fact that the Theatre Royal was full again last night - for the third presentation of the classic musical play to be seen in Glasgow within seven months?  Or the fact that the full house sat wrapt in the honeyed melody of ''Vilia'' and the waltz song, and demanded encores, as earnestly as at any time these 40 years?

'For The Merry Widow has made little effort to deck itself in false modern colours - even though it now has jokes on ''comestible atomic bombs,'' the ''Son of Heaven,'' and ''fraternisatin.  It has clothed itself for this revival in fine dresses and brlliant colour, but it is its original indestructble gaiety and the charm of the Franz Lehár melodies that have come down through decades of family sing-songs, that still bring it full houses in 1945.

'Not, however, without splendid help from the latest cast.  Elizabeth French is a Widow of grace and a really romantic air,  Frank Fox a Prince Danilo handsome and convincing in his fire, and Nancy Munks a Frou-Frou who sweeps the stage like a fresh wind.  As for laughter, it is tirelessly produced by Leo Franklyn.'

 

The Scotsman: Tuesday, 11 September 1945  (p3)

'Gaily staged and presented, Franz Lehár's ever-popular musical play The Merry Widow, had a warm reception last night on its return visit to the Theatre Royal.  This elaborate and richly dressed production has the advantage of a fine team of principals in Elizabeth French,  Leo Franklyn, and Frank Fox.  The lesser roles are admirably sustained by Anna Claire, Bernard Bedford, and Sydney Arnold.  The show moves smoothly and the humour comes naturally.  In adding to the spectacle and the musical entertainment, the large chorus and the Norman Ballet make their full contribution.'

Performance Cast

Baron Mirko Zeta Pontevedrian Ambassador in Paris

Sydney Arnold

Valencienne Zeta's wife

Anna Claire

Count Danilo Danilowitsch Secretary to the legation, reserve cavalry lieutenant

Frank Fox

Hanna Glawari a wealthy young widow

Elizabeth French

Camille de Rosillon

Bernard Bedford

Vicomte Cascada

Clive Desmond

Raoul de St Brioche

Leonard Mac'Krill

Bogdanowitsch Pontevedrian Consul

Douglas Thompson

Sylviane wife of Bogdanowitsch

Helen Keene

Pritschitsch retired Pontevedrian colonel, Military Attaché

Mr D Bentham

Praskowia wife of Pritschitsch

Louise Lewtass

Njegus Chancery Clerk at the Embassy

Leo Franklyn

Lo-Lo a grisette

Peta Morley

Frou-Frou a grisette

Nancy Munks

Performance DatesLustige Witwe 1945

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 Sep, 19.00 11 Sep, 19.00 12 Sep, 14.00 12 Sep, 19.00 13 Sep, 19.00 14 Sep, 19.00 15 Sep, 14.00 15 Sep, 19.00

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2021

Site by SiteBuddha