Franz Lehár’s operetta “The Merry Widow” has been an audience favourite since its debut in Vienna in 1905, spurring frequent adaptations around the world.
The Toronto Operetta Theatre has revived the classic for the holiday season. The production stars soprano Leslie Ann Bradley as the spunky yet good-natured Anna Glawari, the merry widow, with tenor Adam Luther as her love interest, Count Danilo Danilovitch.
A comedy of love, class relations, money, and mistaken identities, the operetta is light-hearted fare with heart, and of course, beautiful music.
Bradley, who is enjoying her role as the merry widow immensely, shared her experiences and insights into the character.
The Epoch Times: What do you enjoy most about your role?
Leslie Ann Bradley: I like my character because she’s very feisty. She’s a woman who, unlike many of the women in her time, inherits a ton of wealth, and so she has all the power. She can decide her own fate, and she can stand toe to toe with all the powers that be and dictate how things go. She can say things that other people would not be able to get away with saying, and do things as she wishes. That’s a lot of fun to play.
And it’s a wonderful cast. The leading tenor, Adam Luther, is really wonderful to work with. He has one of the most gorgeous tenor voices. It’s got a lot of colour and a lot of warmth to it, so it’s a lot of fun to sing with Adam.
And the conductor Derek Bate is phenomenal. He’s so wonderful because he’s wonderful with the orchestra. He knows the style so well. He breathes with the singers; he understands the singing voice very well. … [This] makes all the difference in the world because it gives you the freedom and the confidence to just express what you need to express.
Epoch Times: Elizabeth Beeler played the merry widow in The Toronto Operetta Theatre’s 2007 production. She is now back in a supporting role. What was your experience working with her?
Ms. Bradley: She’s been extremely generous to me. I’ve had a lot of questions about how she approached things and what her take was. Obviously, my character will be different because I’m a different person but she definitely helped me a lot because it’s nice to talk to someone who has the input and the knowledge. She’s been a very generous colleague and I’m very grateful that she comes with this knowledge because it’s helped me in my role.
Epoch Times: In a previous interview, you talked about the battle of the wills going on between the couple.
Ms. Bradley: Definitely. Who is most stubborn. Because they both love each other very much. But she’s angry because he left her and he had to leave because of social class. He’s a count and she’s a no-one essentially. So she inherits these 50 million francs, so all of a sudden, she has the power.
So part of her wants to punish him a little bit, which she does. And part of her really wants to see if this will level the playing field and if he will finally confess that he loves her. It’s a fun cat and mouse game, but it’s also very high stakes because it is a battle. But ultimately they both want to win each other.
Epoch Times: What do you find most endearing about the character of the merry widow?
Ms. Bradley: I think at her heart she is still a simple girl who loves a boy, and I think that is the truth of the story. And the rest—the glitz and the glamour—is fun. That’s what makes the show go on, but what I love about her is that at her core, she has very simple needs and very simple intentions, and I think that gives her an honesty and a depth that is very endearing.
The Toronto Operetta Theatre’s production of “The Merry Widow” has four more performances Jan. 3-6 at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. For more information, visit www.torontooperetta.com