Charles Court Opera

A sugar rush for the eyes: Glyndebourne’s The Merry Widow reviewed

In 1905, shortly before the world première of The Merry Widow, the Viennese theatre manager Wilhelm Karczag got cold feet and tried to pull it. He offered Franz Lehar hard cash to withdraw the score, and when that failed, he rushed it on under-rehearsed, using second-hand sets from an older show. Or so the story goes anyway. Karczag couldn’t know that within a decade The Merry Widow would become the most successful piece of musical theatre in human history up to that point: an all-conquering global brand that gave its name to hats, corsets, cigarettes and a rather nice cocktail (equal measures gin and vermouth, splashed with absinthe, Bénédictine and