Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Merry Widow

A special treat. Was invited to The Merry Widow last night - a wonderful spectacle, performed by the English National Opera at the London Coliseum. The singing, the sets and the costumes were all stunning. Wish I could post a picture of the matching peach-coloured evening frocks worn by the ladies at the Embassy reception in Scene One. The Merry Widow herself made a dramatic entrance, dressed in black and gold, carrying a black feather boa and a live Pomerarian. The dog looked a bit restive so I was relieved when it was carried off by a footman after a few minutes.

You don’t expect much of a plot in a comic operetta but this one made me ponder. Hanna, a rich young widow from Pontevedro, a tiny Balkan country, is a material girl in a material world. She’s visiting Paris and Frenchmen are in hot pursuit, but the Ambassador of Pontevedro has been instructed to ensure that a Pontevedrian wins her hand so her fortune will prop up the empty State coffers. There’s the inevitable mix-up but she ends up with Count Right, of course.

A hundred years ago when the opera first appeared people seemed to be more upfront about money than and almost as frank about sex as we are today. According to the programme the hunt for heiresses was a fairly widespread pursuit – a peer even advertised openly for a rich (but chaste) wife. Chaste wives seemed to be in short supply in the opera too and their elderly husbands had difficulty keeping track of their flirtations. All very jolly, and well worth the trip.

Disappointed by the Café below St. Martin in the Fields though – not as good as my last visit – dispiriting food served by a gloomy Slav waitress. She obviously didn’t come from Pontevedra.

1 comment:

Claude said...

I remember seeing that movie when I was a child and loving the music.
I too was quite disappointed by the Café at St Martin in the Fields last time I went to London. It used to be one of my favourite resting places!