Sunday, March 11, 2012


OperaDella Luna at the Civic Theatre


This popular company brought their Widow, typically pragmatic and slyly inventive, to a Civic packed with their fans [aka "Lunatics"]. Last month, Limassol ...
Lehar's music is given due respect by the eight singers and the colourful band; Jeremy Sam's translation adds an acerbic freshness to a tale that can often seem saccharine and quaint.
The production, by Artistic Director Jeff Clarke, was full of clever ideas, notably here the puppets in the pavilion and the amazingly supple Grisettes in Act III – remember we're looking at a company of eight, with just two women …

Jim Hutchon joined the Lunatics in the Civic Stalls:

The Lunatics were out in force on 10th March in Chelmsford. These self-styled ‘groupies’ are followers of the glittering ensemble opera group ‘Opera della Luna’ and had gathered in a full house at the Civic for Lehar’s ‘The Merry Widow’.

After more than a hundred years in constant production around the world, it’s hard to imagine anything new can be got from this light-hearted work, but the verve, style and imagination of the group brought a freshness and sparkle to it.

An effortless Trevor Jary hit all the right notes as Count Danilo, the male lead, while his female counterpart with the voice of an angel – the eponymous widow – was Rhona McKail, employing a TOWIE accent to suit her humble origins.

The Director, Jeff Clark (who was also the MD) used his small ensemble of only eight with simple stylish backdrops to create sumptuous scenes of lavish decadence in the mythical pre-WW1 Balkan principality. The highly talented orchestra and cast brought out the drama, humour and tunes to create a whole new view of the work.

Shadow puppets in the summer house and blow-up dolls in a Can-Can are experiences which will live long in the memory.

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