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Opera Abbreviated Podcast: The Merry Widow

The Metropolitan Opera presents Franz Lehar's delicious The Merry Widow carried live in HD throughout the world, this Saturday at 1 pm.

Die lustige Witwe by Franz Lehar has been an operetta sensation since its premiere in 1905. Within a year The Merry Widow turned up in London, and settled for a long run on Broadway, the first of several.

The glamorous widow does great business, especially if a prima donna of a certain glamour and charisma is on hand. Beverly Sills loved this role. Dame Joan Sutherland looked like a Macy's Christmas window but chose Lehar's work for her final U.S. appearances.

The Metropolitan Opera has a new production of The Merry Widow starring Renee Fleming. Can't beat Renee for glamour and charisma. Broadway star Kelli O'Hara dances the can-can, and bari-hunk Nathan Gunn is the roguish Prince Danilo.

Susan Strohman's credits include Contact and The Producers. She makes her Met debut as director-choreographer for this Widow.

So what's the appeal, really?

The story is not much; operetta stories are not literature. They are hooks upon which the tantalizing waltzes, choruses and arias are pegged.

In operetta, "it's more important to look good than to feel good." Everyone is pretty, everyone moves well, and Franz Lehar's music does the trick in tickling our circadian rhythms.

A wealthy widow can save a struggling small country if she marries appropriately. Her intended was jilted once and feigns disinterest.

Good for him. You and I both know all ends well. So go see The Merry Widow live in HD, for the dancing, if nothing else.

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.