Lehár's The Land of Smiles

Andreas Homoki (stage direction), Fabio Luisi (conductor) — With Piotr Beczala (Prince Sou-Chong), Julia Kleiter (Lisa), Rebeca Olvera (Princess Mi) ...

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Andreas Homoki — Stage director

Wolfgang Gussmann — Stage sets and costumes

Ernst Raffelsberger — Choreographer

Piotr Beczała — Prince Sou-Chong

Julia Kleiter — Lisa

Rebeca Olvera — Mi

Spencer Lang — Graf Gustav von Pattenstein

Cheyne Davidson — Chang

Chorus & Children's Choir of the Opernhaus Zürich

Fabio Luisi — Conductor

Philharmonia Zürich

Program notes

"We keep on smiling, we always stay cheery," sings Prince Sou-Chong in the introduction to the Franz Lehár operetta Das Land des Lächelns (The Land of Smiles), "always content, no matter what happens. We smile through the pain and a thousand torments." Like Puccini in Madame Butterfly, Lehár situates the action in Asia, dealing with themes of exoticism and the complexities in trying to reconcile divergent cultural traditions. World-renowned tenor Piotr Beczala returns to the Zurich Opera House in the role of Sou-Chong, alongside the marvelous Julia Kleiter as Lisa. Maestro Fabio Luisi conducts the Philharmonia Zürich in the delightful score by Lehár, while Andreas Homoki's staging pops with striking set pieces and vibrant colors.

In 1912 Vienna and China, countess Lisa marries Chinese prince Sou-Chong and accompanies him back to his homeland, despite the apprehensions of her friends and family. But when she finds herself unable to adjust to her husband's culture—especially its practice of polygamy—and begins to feel imprisoned within her palace, her love curdles into hatred. The custom, however, must be respected: keep on smiling, always stay cheery...

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