THE Hallé’s famed Viennese concerts were the stuff of legend under the beloved Sir John Barbirolli in the 1950’s and 60’s. Since the Barbirolli era, tradition has evolved under successive guest conductors. Stephen Bell conducted and introduced this eagerly awaited 2022 New Year edition which opened with Franz von Suppé’s sparkling Overture Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna.

Australian soprano Sky Ingram’s selection of operetta highlights began with one of Franz Lehár’s most beguiling numbers. Meine Lippen sie küssen so Heiss - On My Lips every kiss is like Wine - comes from Lehár’s bittersweet 1934 operetta Giuditta. Giuditta entertains garrison soldiers in Morocco with this dazzling showpiece aria with an unforgettable slow Viennese waltz at its heart.

Robert Stolz died as recently as 1975. He was effectively the last survivor from the heyday of Viennese operetta. Sky Ingram sang the delightful Du sollst der Kaiser meiner Seele sein - You shall be the Emperor of my soul - from his 1916 operetta Der Favorit.

The singer switched with ease from lovesick typist to mysterious Hungarian Countess: the glittering Czárdás is sung by the disguised heroine Roselinda in Act 2 of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.

Emerich Kálmán composed his opera Empress Josephine shortly before he was forced to flee Vienna after the Anschluss - the ‘joining together’ with Nazi Germany. In her lavishly orchestrated song Mein Traum - My Dream - the future wife of Napoleon Bonaparte offers an uninhibited account of imagined fulfillment.

Carl Millöcker’s c1880 operetta Countess Dubarry contains the seductive waltz song ‘Ich schenk’ mein Herz’ - I give my Heart; sung by the heroine as she progresses from milliner to mistress of King Louis XV.

Ingram concluded her set with George Gershwin’s song ‘By Strauss’. Gershwin’s homage to the Strauss family was projected with such natural charm and gay abandon by this vivacious singer.

A generous selection of orchestral lollipops included two Barbirolli favourites: the Johann Strauss waltz Roses from the South and Tritsch-Tratsch Polka. Eduard Strauss was represented by his locomotive polka Mit Dampf - Full Steam Ahead. The energetic Faire Frou-Frou, written in 1957 by Ronald Binge, depicts high-kicking Parisian can-can dancers. The meditative Romance No 1 in D minor by Johann Strauss was an even more intriguing inclusion. However, this hugely enjoyable concert ended, as tradition demands, with Johann’s Blue Danube Waltz and the Radetzky March by Johann’s father.

By Geoffrey Mogridge