Sorry to be late. Start of spring semester got to me.
Yes, Barbara, I too decided to go to The Merry Widow despite all the reviews -- in my case I talked myself into it, "C'mon, you know you're curious and were determined to go, before the critics weighed in."
And in fact I could pick lots of nits -- I had certainly expected more zip and know-how from the direction of Delaware's own Susan Stroman -- but I'm glad I went. I agree that Kelli O'Hara did very well for herself. She clearly could, if she chose, do other roles of similar type and weight: Adele, Papagena (especially in their English-language version), maybe Despina.
Renée Fleming is entitled to show her age vocally by this point (it's been a career of estimable duration and quality), and she rather did, to my ears. The B that ended "Vilia" was one of those "whew, I made it" moments, and I'm surprised they decided to allow her an extra high note at the end of Act II, which I've never heard anywhere before. Interpolating a Lehar aria from Paganini just before the grand finale also seemed a misguided idea (it's not at all traditional or standard) -- once we feel that we're about to wind it all up, it's wise to do so and not give us an excuse to feel that things are dragging.
The designs were gorgeous; no complaints there!
Next month I'm seeing Kelli O'Hara in the imminent revival of The King and I.