God I love French opera! There’s just something about the French angle on opera, from the 17th Century to today, that really engages me. I’m beginning to think that it’s “the fantastic” in French opera that turns me on, and Jacques Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman (Tales of Hoffman) has that in spades.
There is definitely fun to be had in the Met’s new production of Franz Lehar’s operetta The Merry Widow, directed and choreographed by Broadway stalwart Susan Stroman. While this is neither her best work, nor the best production of The Merry Widow ever, it has enough virtues to make it a real pleasure, if not quite the lush, effervescent fun-fest it should be.
Ella Fitzgerald once called Marilyn Maye “the greatest white female singer in the world.” That’s no exaggeration; she may be the only singer alive who combines a great vocal instrument with interpretative flair and savoir faire equal to Ella’s own. I can think of no other living singer who possesses Maye’s combination of interpretive ability, rhythmic verve, and vocal range – at 86, her voice is the envy of singers 40 years her junior.
This proves – as no doubt it was intended to – that Bradley Cooper is a bona fide stage actor with considerable chops, not just a slumming movie star. Often, when a star of Cooper’s magnitude shows up on Broadway, the best news that can be expected is that they didn’t suck, but didn’t quite hold the stage either. Not the case here: Cooper is the real deal.