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Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)
Der Graf von Luxembourg (The Count of Luxembourg) (1909) [96:00]
Paganini (1925) [107:00]
Zigeunerliebe (Gypsy Love) (1910) [88:00]
see end of review for performance details
ARTHAUS MUSIK 107 525 [3 DVDs: 291:00]
These three Lehár operetta productions have been available separately for some time now. I have reviewed two of them for this site already. I will fully review the remaining one first. The other two operettas I will address as a précis and direct readers, via the usual hyperlinks to my full reviews. 

Zigeunerliebe
This is, again, a film of an operetta shot mainly outdoors which works well for this somewhat darker, more cynical opus. (Its initial run did not rival that of The Merry Widow.) Zigeunerliebe anticipates Lehár’s late masterpiece Giuditta which is more opera than operetta - Zigeunerliebe is an operaticoperetta. Gone is the Parisian gaiety of The Merry Widow or The Count of Luxembourg. Instead we have a rather more sombre set of circumstances. Young Zorika is unsettled when she meets a dashing gypsy (a moustachioed Ion Buzea looking years too old for her). Zorika cannot decide what love is and what she wants of it. She believes her young, rich suitor might cage her in upper class respectability, whereas she is attracted to what she thinks is the freedom of life with the gypsies After a few too many drinks at her betrothal party she falls asleep and has a nightmare and sees the stark realities of gypsy life: uncommitted, unfaithful and bullying men, and the women being forced to go out and beg and steal.
 
This film’s scenery and costumes are lavish - a feast for the eye. But to western eyes and ears there could be an over-preponderance of Hungarian folk music and the really well-known tunes don’t appear until towards the end of the show: the best-known is probably the duet between Zorika’s father, Dragotin and his flighty, brothel-owning girlfriend, in which they celebrate that it’s never too old to love; then there is Józsi’s enthusiastic song in praise of gypsy freedom; and the duet between Zorika and Józsi, ‘Es liegt in blauen Fernen.’ Buzea, in commanding tone, makes a plausible romantic yet ultimately rascally and undependable Józsi Janet Perry’s Zorika is pretty and headstrong and her young, light soprano voice has an attractive timbre even if she is not always pitch-perfect. The choir and dancers shine.
 
Not the best of Lehár but worth considering
 
Der Graf von Luxembourg
One of Lehár’s most popular operettas, this is a delightful film (see full review).

The costumes are gorgeous, lighting and sets attractive and the acting, for the most part, good. Operatic singers stiffen the operetta roles. Most of the arias are waltz songs. Hunky Eberhard Wächter in the title role, rises with aplomb to its demanding part, the tessitura of which straddles baritone and tenor registers. Lilian Sukis as Angèle is beautiful and sophisticated, her golden soprano marvellously controlled across her range particularly in its high register. Helga Papouschek pouts sweetly and is a honeyed Juliette. Deep-voiced Erich Kunz makes a dapper and dashing but dignity-affronted Basil and nearly steals every scene in which he appears.
 
Enchanting.

Paganini
This film version of Paganini is a very creditable stab at a glittering operetta. My full review can be read here. Paganini is concerned with an episode from the violinist’s colourful life when he was supposed to have met and stolen the heart of Napoleon’s sister, Princess Anna Elisa of Lucca. Paganini’s luscious melodies include: ‘Girls were Made to Love and Kiss’.
 
Gorgeous melodies, glittering production.
 
Ian Lace  

Performance details
Zigeunerliebe (Gypsy Love) (1910)
Operetta film (1974)
Zorika - Janet Perry
Józsi - Ion Buzea
Jonet - Adolf Dallapoza
Ilona - Colette Lorand
Dragotin - Heinz Friedrich
Milhàly/Moschu - Kurt Grosskurth
Kajetàn - Helmut Wallner
Jolàn - Marianne Becker
Julcsa - Gaby Banschenbach
Peria - Angelika Schütz
Münchner Rundfunkorchester and Chorus of the Bayerischer Rundfunk/Heinz Wallberg
rec. Munich, 1974
Available separately as 101599

Der Graf von Luxembourg (The Count of Luxembourg) (1909)
- Operetta film, 1972
René, Graf von Luxembourg - Eberhard Wächter
Angèle Didier - Lilian Sukis
Fürst Basil Basilowitsch - Erich Kunz
Armand Brissard - Peter Fröhlich
Juliette Vermont - Helga Papouschek
Gräfin Stasa Kokozow - Jane Tilden
Pélègrin - Kurt Sowinetz
Pawlowitsch - George Corten
Mentschikoff - Kut Zips
Symphony Orchestra Kurt Graunke, Munich/Walter Goldschmidt
rec. Munich (?) 1972
PCM Stereo; Picture Format: 4.3; Subtitles: Deutsch, English, French; Region Code: 0
Available separately as 101626.

Paganini (1925) (1973 film of the operetta)
Niccolò Paganini - Antonio Theba
Princess Anna Elisa - Teresa Stratas
Prince Felice - Johannes Heesters
Bella Giretti - Dagmar Koller
Giacomo Pimpinelli - Peter Kraus
Count Carcasona - Fritz Tillmann
Count Hédouville - Wolfgang Luckshy
Bartucci - Klaus Havenstein
Symphony Orchestra Kurt Graunke, Munich/Wolfgang Ebert
rec. Munich 1973
Sound: PCM Stereo
Picture: NTSC/4:3 Colour
Region: 0
Subtitle Languages: DE (original language), GB, FR
Available separately as 101592.


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