The intoxicating strains of Franz Lehar and other masters of the operetta and zarzuela stage dominate Domingo, Netrebko & Villazón: Three Stars in Vienna, an icon-studded concert gala from the Imperial Park of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Summer Palace, this December on GREAT PERFORMANCES on PBS (check local listings). Tenors Plácido Domingo and Rolando Villazón join soprano Anna Netrebko in the evening of highlights from such favorite works as The Merry Widow, Land of Smiles and El Gato Montes.
Presented by Thirteen/WNET New York in high definition, the broadcast is led by noted French conductor Bertrand de Billy, directing the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.
From its opening vocal salvo, Domingo’s thrilling account of Lehar’s “Gern hab ich die Frau’n gekuesst” from Paganini, through Netrebko’s swirling Gypsy rendition of “Heia in den Bergen” (from Emmerich Kálmán’s Die Csárdásfürstin) to Villazón’s heart-breaking “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” (Lehar’s Land of Smiles), the program is a welcome reminder of the glittering lost world of operetta.
The genre (first cousin to the zarzuela of Spain) is a precursor to today’s modern musical and once dominated the world’s stages, thanks to “light music” composers like Lehar, Johann Strauss Jr., and Léo Delibes. Domingo, Netrebko & Villazón: Three Stars in Vienna offers a rare opportunity to re-examine some of their gems. (A complete list of telecast selections accompanies this release.)
Recorded in the Austrian capital June 27, 2008, Domingo, Netrebko & Villazón: Three Stars in Vienna is a co-production of ORF, ZDF and Unitel Classica, in association with Thirteen/WNET New York. Heidelinde Haschek directs, with Heidelinde Rudy and Sandra Marchart as Producers.
GREAT PERFORMANCES is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS.