The Merry Widow All Ages Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m., Wed., Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., Fri., Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m., Mon., Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m., Wed., Dec. 16, 2 p.m., Fri., Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m., Sun., Dec. 20, 2 p.m., Tue., Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m., Sat., Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m., Thu., Jan. 14, 2 p.m. and Sat., Jan. 16, 7:30 p.m. 2010

The scene that opens Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Merry Widow is a stunner, inspired by an 1873 Tissot painting: a tableau of Belle Epoque gowns in sherbet shades against a silver foil backdrop. It’s one of many high points in this production of Franz Lehar’s classic 1905 operetta about a rich widow whose matrimonial plans are critical to the survival of her fictional eastern European country. Directed by Chicago Shakespeare’s Gary Griffin and conducted by Emmanuel Villaume, it has relatively spartan sets by Daniel Ostling, exquisite costumes by Mara Blumenfeld, and a hard-rhyming translation of its often cynical lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Soprano Elizabeth Futral plays the widow, Hanna Glawari, whose haunting second-act solo (“Vilja”) is another highlight; the gentlemen’s lament in the same act (“Everywoman”) had Lyric’s buttoned-up audience clapping time like the crowd at a hootenanny. Andriana Chuchman and Stephen Costello deliver winning performances as the itchy young wife of an aging diplomat and her determined lover, while the orchestra (just released from contract limbo), chorus, and dancers all add to the frivolity. One hitch on opening night: in a few instances voices failed to carry, particularly from the back or upper part of the stage. The trouble may have been a gremlin in the sound system, in which case it should be fixable, but tenor Roger Honeywell (who plays the widow’s love interest, Count Danilo Danilovich) was inaudible in his lower register and managed to fumble an entry in which he’s supposed to be stumbling drunk. —Deanna Isaacs

Price: $33-$207

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