Susan Graham sings the title role of the fabulous woman of the world who sets out to conquer glamorous old Paris and get the one thing that has eluded her—a commitment from her playboy first love. Lehár’s delightful score of lush waltzes and beautiful ballads will sparkle with a supporting cast of Andriana Chuchman, Paul Groves, and the inimitable Sir Thomas Allen. Ward Stare conducts.
Premiere: Theatre an der Wien, Vienna, 1905. Lehár’s captivating romantic comedy was the biggest success of the composer’s career and, along with Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, represents the most enduringly popular example of the operetta genre. Set in Paris, the story centres on Hanna Glawari, a fabulously wealthy young widow from a fictional Eastern European country and the attempts of its ambassador to find her a new husband in order to keep her fortune in the country and save it from bankruptcy. Mixed in with this are Hanna’s unexpected reunion with a former admirer and the flirtation of the ambassador’s wife with a young Frenchman. The plentiful opportunities for a wide range of romantic and humorous stage magic are obvious, particularly within the operetta format of musical numbers interspersed with spoken dialogue.
Ward Stare – Conductor
Hanna Glawari – Hanna Glawari
Andriana Chuchman – Valencienne
Paul Groves – Danilo
David Portillo – Camille De Rosillon
Taylor Stayton – Camille De Rosillon
Sir Thomas Allen – Baron Mirko Zeta
Franz Lehár (1870–1948) trained at the Prague Conservatory, where his mentors included Antonín Dvořák. He wrote some orchestral music but is remembered primarily for his operettas, especially The Merry Widow, his breakthrough success, and The Land of Smiles (Das Land des Lächelns from 1929. The libretto for The Merry Widow was written by the Vienna-based team of Leo Stein (1861–1921) and Viktor Léon (1858–1940), who also collaborated on libretti for Johann Strauss, Jr., and others.
English Version – Jeremy Sams
Lighting Designer – Paule Constable
Production – Susan Stroman
Sound Designer – Mark Grey
Set Designer – Julian Crouch
Choreographer – Susan Stroman
Costume Designer – William Ivey Long
The Merry Widow takes place amid the vibrant artistic, diplomatic, and social worlds of Paris in the early 20th century and in the expatriate community of Pontevedro, a fictional Balkan country that bears some resemblance to Montenegro.
The score of The Merry Widow is charming and melodious but also highly sophisticated. Various types of dance music permeate the operetta, providing an opportunity for delightful visuals on stage while at the same time creating an atmosphere of refined giddiness that is central to the story. The orchestral writing ranges from the grand to the elegant, and to surprisingly delicate touches that tell the audience what the characters hardly dare to express themselves.