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Das Land Des Lächelns (The Land of Smiles) is the rather sad Franz Lehár 1929 operetta that never duplicated the success of The Merry Widow, but provided the Richard Tauber mega-hit, ‘Dein is mein ganzes Herz’, (You Are My Heart’s Delight). Sad because of the rare sight of clouds obscuring the perennial sunshine of the operetta world, leading to an unhappy ending as soprano Lisa abandons her husband to his native China, having found it impossible to assimilate or even find a welcome. A not untimely story, one ponders. Filmed in Zurich in 2017, Andreas Homoki’s production is simple and unapologetic in its portrayal of a stereotypical China of the 1920s, and set within the frame of a revue of the time. Homoki abandons dialogue and smaller roles, and concentrates on his principals. It all works, but there’s an emotional detachment to proceedings. Julia Kleiter’s soprano possesses a delicious quiver that suits this music perfectly, but unfortunately she does have a tendency to sing sharp. Piotr Beczała does Tauber duties with dash and smooth tone. As the second star-crossed couple, Rebecca Olvera and Spencer Lang are excellent. Fabio Luisi’s conducting is romantic but not schmaltzy.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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