The Merry Widow
Choreography by Ronald Hynd
Music by Franz Lehár
Run time 2hrs and 16min (including intermissions)
The winter program will feature Ronald Hynd’s enchanting ballet adaptation of Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow, making its Chicago and Joffrey premiere. Set amid the glitz and glamour of turn-of-the-century Paris, this full-length ballet tells the rich and intoxicating love story between the beautiful widow, Hanna Glawari and the dashing Count Danilo. Italian designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno’s exquisite costumes and scenery lay the backdrop for a tale of comedic intrigue, filled with elegant ladies, eligible bachelors and famed can-can dancers. The Merry Widow has become one of the twentieth century’s most beloved works, with The New York Times calling it “brilliant, joyous and glamorous!”
All performances take place at The Auditorium Theatre.
Performances will feature live orchestral accompaniment performed by the Chicago Sinfonietta.
Take advantage of our Merry Widow Meet the Artists events on 02/19, 02/24, and 02/26. For more information click here.
Photo credits: Dancers: Kelly Myernick, Nicholas Leschke, Artists of Houston Ballet Photographer: Amitava Sarkar
Place: Paris, 1905
An ante-room in the Pontevedrian Embassy Undersecretaries and the French Attaché (Camille de Rosillion) are finishing work prior to the ball to be given at the Embassy that evening. The Ambassador’s secretary (Njegus) enters with another pile of bills, and all lament their country’s precarious financial situation.
The Ambassador (Baron Zeta) and his young French wife (Valencienne) enter with a telegram announcing that a recently widowed Pontevedrian (Hanna Glawari) is to attend the ball. She is worth 20 million francs and is reportedly seeking a new husband. However, should she marry a foreigner, Pontevedro will lose the benefit of her wealth and the country will be left penniless. The First Secretary (Count Danilo) is considered a prospective suitor.
Camille and Valencienne are left alone. He is passionately in love with her, and she with him, but she clings shakily to her marriage vows.
Njegus interrupts the lovers and they leave as Danilo enters, more than a little intoxicated. Njegus informs Danilo of the marriage plans. He is amused at the suggestion and lapses into an alcoholic slumber.
The Baron returns and orders Njegus to ensure that Danilo is sober for the ball.
Scene 2: The Pontevedrian Embassy ballroom
Hanna Glawari arrives and Danilo is presented to her. They are shocked to recognize one another, having been lovers in Pontevedro some ten years earlier when Hanna was a peasant girl. Danilo had put an end to their affair at the insistence of his aristocratic parents.
He is amazed at the transformation in Hanna and, in his confusion, cools his forehead with a handkerchief which Hanna recognizes as the keepsake she gave him many years ago.
Danilo attempts to explain himself and his love for Hanna, but she rejects his advances, suggesting that perhaps now he is more interested in her money. Alone, Danilo recalls their earlier days together.
The Baron re-enters with Hanna and bids her to choose a partner. Hanna regretting her earlier coolness, chooses Danilo, but he, still smarting, refuses. Valencienne urges Camille to dance with Hanna to avoid an awkward situation. Hanna graciously accepts his arm and they dance together, but in the course of changing partners, Hannah finds herself in the arms of Danilo. She continues to resist his advances but cannot disguise the love she still feels for him.
The garden of Hanna’s villa
Hanna is holding a Pontevedrian soiree at her Parisian villa where the guests celebrate with their national dances As they all go in to supper, the Baron, Danilo and Njegus arrange to meet at ten o’clock in the pavilion for a small diplomatic discussion on Danilo’s progress with Hanna. All is apparently going well.
The Baron’s wife, Valencienne, and her lover Camille sneak into the deserted garden and she finally succumbs to his persuasive passion; they withdraw into the darkness of the pavilion, unaware that they are being observed by Njegus. As the Ambassador and Danilo approach, Njegus panics and locks the pavilion door. Looking through the keyhole, the Ambassador sees all.
In the ensuing scuffle to wrestle the key from Njegus, Hanna appears and, realizing the situation, releases Valencienne through a side door and takes her place inside. The Baron unlocks the door and orders the guilty couple to explain themselves. To his amazement, Camille emerges with Hanna who shocks everyone by announcing her engagement to Camille. The astounded guests offer frigid congratulations and depart. Danilo is the last to leave and in a frenzy, throws at Hanna’s feet the handkerchief which had, a moment ago, re-tied their union. She picks it up knowing that he truly loves her.
Chez Maxim, the legendary Parisian restaurant
The Pontevedrians have come to drown their sorrows and to spend their last francs at Chez Maxim. Gaiety prevails until Camille unwisely appears, hoping to meet Valencienne. The Pontevedrians, led by Valencienne, jeer at him. Her mockery is more emotional than patriotic.
Hanna suddenly appears and accepts Camille’s unwillingly offered arm. This is too much for Danilo who advances to challenge him to a duel. Hanna and Valencienne attempt to intervene. The Baron realizes, from his wife’s protection of Camifie, that his fears are not without foundation and resignedly accepts the inevitable.
All have left and Hanna stands forlornly alone. Danilo quietly returns and folds her into his penitent and forgiving arms.