"James Last is a German big band leader with a large fan base in Europe, although he has never had a comparable following in the United States. Last's trademark is arranging pop hits in a big-band style; his series of "party albums" is equally well-known. Over the course of his career, he has sold well over 50 million albums."
The great Renée Fleming stars as the beguiling femme fatale who captivates all Paris in Lehár’s enchanting operetta, seen in a new staging by Broadway virtuoso director and choreographer Susan Stroman (The Producers, Oklahoma!, Contact). Stroman and her design team of Julian Crouch (Satyagraha, The Enchanted Island) and costume designer William Ivey Long (Cinderella, Grey Gardens, Hairspray) have created an art-nouveau setting that climaxes with singing and dancing grisettes at the legendary Maxim’s. Nathan Gunn co-stars as Danilo and Kelli O’Hara is Valencienne. Sir Andrew Davis conducts.
“Zarewitsch rhymes with 'Slavic kitsch'. Lehár's inconsequential piece of fluff about the romance between the heir to the throne and a Circassian dancer enjoys classy casting.” BBC Music Magazine
René Kollo stars in this 1974 atmospheric film-version of Lehar's beloved operetta by the noted Viennese director Arthur Maria Rabenalt. Kollo - whose father and grandfather were both operetta composers and who began his own career in light music - plays Prince Sou-Chong, the role that made a celebrity of another 20th-century tenor, Richard Tauber, and provided him with his most famous song. As performed here by René Kollo almost half a century later, "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" remains the musical highlight of this colorful romance set in Vienna and the Far East.
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 premiere followed in 1909. The story of the merry widow and her rekindled romance with dissipated diplomat Count Danilo takes place 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…
Lehar retired professionally after making money on more more than thirty successful comic operettas. He then toured Europe at his own expense producing experimental Musicals for superstar tenor Richard Tauber. PAGANINI, the first in this set, premiered in Vienna in 1925, is iconic as an early successful Musical. The scene is set near Tuscany around 1805…
By L. Wernicki
Decidedly in the top handful of operettas, Die Lustige Witwe receives an exemplary performance in Zurich. The cast is having fun in this one. The main characters look the parts, there's not a weak voice among them and Franz Welser-Most conducts with zip and style. Costumes are excellent and the staging is convincing if a bit modest in the first two acts. Act 3 at Hanna's version of Maxim's in Paris, is pulled off with real panache - if you don't respond to the spine-tingling enthusiasm of the dances, check your heartbeat…By Bob Epstein