Opera Saratoga, 2018


There’s sumptuous music, plenty of fine singing and lots of playful antics in Opera Saratoga’s new production of Lehar’s “The Merry Widow,” which opened Friday night at the Spa Little Theater. ‘The Merry Widow’ can easily come off as so much fluff. Serious effort went into making this a tight and professional effort. That made the fun times all the better.

The classic operetta includes plenty of spoken word and was performed in English. Director and choreographer John de los Santos always kept things moving along. It’s all handled with subtly and ease.


Opera Saratoga opened its season this weekend with sold-out performances of the quintessential operetta in Lehar’s ‘The Merry Widow’ on Friday night. ‘Widow’ was a gay blend of Cameron Anderson’s elegant curved staircase of a set; brilliantly colored 19th-century gowns for the ladies with the men mostly in tuxes or ethnic garb; and a large lighthearted cast that danced, posed and delivered comic dialogue with a practiced ease. Director John de los Santos’ blocking for the various groupings was excellent and the pace fairly swift. He helped create a bon vivant mood, which the crowd picked up on with much buzzing and laughter at the two intermissions.


The entire production, with its sweeping staircase and Gilded-Age accoutrements, is set within a seductively curvaceous art nouveau conch shell of decidedly Freudian redolence, with the face of a serenely bemused Eternal Feminine peering down on the mortal proceedings.

The production brims with energetic performers, some taking extravagant advantage of the wide comic berth director and choreographer John de los Santos affords them, such as baritone Andy Papas, who mugs with outlandish self-assurance as the cuckolded petty official, Baron Mirko Zeta.