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The Merry Widow

Franz Lehár 1870-1948

Operetta in three acts
Libretto by Victor Léon & Leo Stein after Henri Meilhac's comedy L’Attaché d’ambassade (1861)
First performed December 30 1905, Theater an der Wien, Vienna

Sung in German with English & German surtitles
ca. 2 hours 30 minutes, including 1 interval
an introductory talk, in German, begins in the upstairs foyer 30 minutes before every performance  

Samuel Beckett paid tribute to Lehár's 1905 global success in his play Happy Days (performed for the first time in 1960): Winnie, buried up to the waist, and later her neck, in a mound of earth had its hit »Lippen schweigen« on the tip of her tongue. Operetta is when one laughs, despite everything. Everyone wants to marry the wealthy widow Hanna Glawari or, better said, her millions – except one: Danilo, her childhood love. His snobbish rich uncle forced him to break off the relationship because she was poor, so he can't possibly propose to her because she really would think he only wanted her money! Chez Maxim's bar in Paris has become a second home to him. The ambassador of the poverty-stricken Balkan principality of Pontevedro in Paris, Baron Zeta, chooses Danilo, of all people, to woo the widow and save her fortune for the fatherland. After after three acts the pre-destined couple are finally united in a waltz. And the violins whisper, what Danilo can't say: »love me...«

After the early phase of so called »golden operetta« dominated by Jacques Offenbach and Johann Strauß came to an end, the Hungarian composer Franz Lehár started a new genre of operetta, with dance, the so called »silver period«.