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Lehar: The Merry Widow [DVD] [2005]

Dagmar Schellenberger , Rodney Gilfry    Exempt   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
Price: 24.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Lehar: The Merry Widow [DVD] [2005] + Strauss - Die Fledermaus [Bohm, Wiener Philharmoniker] [DVD] [2007]
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Product details

  • Actors: Dagmar Schellenberger, Rodney Gilfry, Zurich Opera House Chor And Orch, Franz Welser-Most
  • Format: Classical, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, PAL, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: German, English, Spanish, Japanese, French
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: ARTHAUS
  • DVD Release Date: 30 May 2005
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002TXT2U
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,769 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Recorded live from the Zurich Opera House 2004

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the best Merry Widow on DVD at the moment 27 May 2009
This is a really good version. It has many of the things which are essential to a satisfying performance: it is sung in German (with sometimes comical subtitles), the sets are suitably traditional without being stuffy, the conducting (Welser-Most) is excellent, and the principal couple (Schellenberger, Gilfry) are young enough and act brilliantly (even if they are not as powerful vocally as they might be). Among the rest of the cast, Ute Gferer is terrific as Valencienne, Piotr Beczala is strong vocally as Rosillon, and Herbert Prikopa is hilarious as Njegus (and stand-in conductor). The music is played with a wonderful lilt, and the whole thing is a lot of fun.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This recording of The Merry Widow, recorded in 2004 at the Zurich opera, to my mind has it all and must therefore lead the field and by a considerable amount. I say this having previously owned, and replaced the much praised version by Yvonne Kenny at San Francisco. More about that in the course of this review.

The current production is essentially a traditional one and is sung in the original German with subtitles provided for non-German viewers. This is a great advantage as, like most operas, there is a flow and pacing as well as the actual sound of an original language which simply works better than any translation. Apart from that, the exact words being sung, even in translation, are often hard to distinguish as they are sung therefore subtitles can often be of use even for native viewers. In the case of the San Francisco performance, the enunciation of the words is frequently difficult to follow and there are no subtitles to help so this version in German is actually easier to follow.

The cast are uniformly excellent and features many absolutely stand-out contributions. Not least is the non-singing role of Njegus. This is wonderfully performed by Herbert Prikopa who shows an instinctive awareness of comedic timing and is able to make the amusing script a very funny on-going event. This consequently has an enormous linking role and adds pace to the whole production. In the San Francisco production the comedy in the spoken script is far too laboured and is not in the same class of entertainment. The supporting male roles of competing suitors and husbands are all well delivered and maintain the same degree of pace throughout.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Angela
I bought this romantic comedy Operetta DVD to cheer and hopefully delight a fan of the musical pieces in concert and it turned out to be something very special indeed. I am happy to confirm the judgment of the reviews to date. This is a beautifully staged production with handsome baritone Rod Gilfry as Count Danilo of Pontevedro and the lovely Dagmar Schellenberger as his lost love the widow Hanna Glawari in the lead roles. There is the additional luxurious casting of Piotr Beczala as Camille cie Rosillon and Ute Gfrerer as Ambassador's wife Valencienne. In addition to her superb singing and acting Ute Gfrerer dances, there is a french cabaret at the party with "Maxim's" can-can dancers performing a long Can-Can the star of which is Valencienne, this is great fun.
A recent item on Radio 3's Opera season praised this operetta as the best of all the genre and one critic picked out the charming Vilja song where Hanna shows us her traditional folk roots in particular as her favourite of all.
Rod Gilfry is shortly to appear at the BBC proms on 22 August 2010 in a John Wilson 'Rogers and Hammerstein Musicals' special, hopefully to be broadcast on BBC4 like the MGM one last year. After a distinguished career in opera and now causing a sensation in South Pacific in the US I predict that Rod Gilfry will become a music star favourite here. If you only buy one Operetta, buy this, it has so many 'hits' in the score!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Nigel Mc TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have 2 versions of the Merry Widow and having seen both several times I have decided to edit my original review to take account of the repeated viewings. Originally, I preferred this version over the San Francisco Opera House version which is sung in English, albeit without the option of sub-titles in English! Make no mistake, both versions are highly recommended but I now prefer the English version which is also available in Blu-ray. The quality of the latter is absolutely fabulous with a pin sharp picture which shows off the wonderful costumes to such good effect.

The singing and acting in both versions is truly excellent and and there are some good comic touches. However, the final act seals it for me with the winner being the San Francisco production. That version boasts a stunning dance sequence and the comic interpretation is also more enjoyable.

But it is a close call and if you buy this version you will not be disappointed. Rod Gilfrey is superb and the Zurich Opera House Orchestra and Choir under Franz Welser-Most give a lively and very enjoyable performance.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Stuff 15 Mar 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was delighted with this DVD. There was not ONE available of good quality sung in German with any class till now. Most DVDs in the Market are sung in English that fail to deliver the actual essence of this operetta.
In this one, there are a few flaws, but they can be overlooked. Schellenberger is not Elizabeth Shwartzkopf BUT, gives a great and a satisfying performance. Her voice does not really penetrate as much as it should and sounds a bit subdued much of the time. Not her fault, the recording guys need to be taken to task. Gilfry as Danilo comes through quite well, and is absolutely suited for the part. I have no hesitation in comparing him with Eberhart Wachter. Conducting is excellent, although I cant say the same for the recording, which does not strike a great balance between the singers and the orchestra. Rossillon comes through beautifully, crisp and clear.
The can-can at the end of it is a little longer than I expected, but being a live performance, it is justified and quite enjoyable.
Valencienne (Ute Gfrerer) actually steals the show both visually and otherwise.
I have a strange suspicion that the guys who were in charge of the subtitling were French ingrained with a genetic animosity towards English. The conversation in French (not a part of the original liberetto for sure), is left alone which is quite irritating - it could well have been Sanskrit or Latin for a person like me who does not know either and some others are pretty clumsy (Especially Danilo's laugh which is translated as a 'smile' thrice) which makes me smile at the blotched job.
At the end of the performance, it felt nice, warm and satisfying, which is what I would demand of a great performance.
I have no hesitation in giving this a 5 star...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Merry Widow DVD - Dagmar Schellenberger
This a lovely recording, well staged.
I bought it for a friend's Christmas present.
I allready have one for myself.
Published 4 months ago by Madison
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable to watch
Great on-screen chemistry between the two principals - just a pity some of the singing wasn't the best. And some of the sub-titles were a bit odd.
Published 7 months ago by merlinalison
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb Merry Widow
I bought this as part of a box set(with Die Fledermaus and La Belle Helene) at the very good price fromAmazon of 21.95. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Douglas Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars TOP CLASS!!!
An absolutely first class performance. The acting, singing and, of course, the music, were all superb. Read more
Published 12 months ago by fred
3.0 out of 5 stars mixed feelings
I was very much looking forward to seeing this DVD, but I must admit some disappointment. The production was good, and the conducting was excellent. Read more
Published 14 months ago by R. D. Beckett
5.0 out of 5 stars the merry widow great
the merry widow beautiful visually had to putup with subtitles the lamas one was awful . It was closer to lehars original opera
Published 14 months ago by j moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Die Lustige Witwe DVD
This is an excellent rendition of The Merry Widow. Congratulations should go to the choreographer, Giorgio Madia. Read more
Published 20 months ago by A Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Vulgar
After seeing a super production in Leeds recently this version is rather vulgar and almost devoid of 'romanticism'. The sound quality - poor.
Published on 19 Feb 2011 by cliff hamer
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