Spirited scenes of turn-of-the-century Parisian life, the sweeping whirl of the Viennese waltz, and beautiful and lyrical melodies have made The Merry Widow one of the most popular and enduring operettas of the past century. Eastman Opera Theatre brings Franz Lehár’s masterpiece to the Eastman Theatre stage for four performances beginning Thursday, April 3.
Perhaps the most celebrated and successful work of its kind ever written, The Merry Widow enjoyed a triumphant premiere in 1905 and rapidly became a favorite with audiences throughout the world. To this day, it is one of the most-performed operettas, said Eastman Opera Theatre director Steven Daigle.
“The continuing appeal of The Merry Widow lies in its music,” said Daigle. “Lehár’s beautiful melodies have never become timeworn and seem fresh each time they are heard.”
The work’s passionate love duets and melodies and songs like “The Merry Widow Waltz” and “You’ll Find Me at Maxim’s” are beloved the world over. The plot line includes lovers’ trysts, lavish parties, can-can dancers, and political intrigue, offering something to appeal to every member of the audience.
The story revolves around Hanna Glawari, a wealthy widow from Pontevedro who is visiting Paris in search of a husband. Her remarriage would take her late husband’s wealth out of Pontevedro and bankrupt the country, and an embassy scheme is hatched to marry Anna to the suave and handsome Pontevedrian Count Danilo. Complications ensue over Danilo’s eye for Parisian can-can girls and a flirtation between a French attaché and the wife of the Pontevedrian ambassador.
“With The Merry Widow, Lehár gave the operetta genre one final crown of glory before it made way for the development of the American musical that was to follow later in the 20th century,” said Daigle.
The Eastman Opera Theatre production of The Merry Widow will be sung in English, with musical director Benton Hess conducting the Eastman Philharmonia.
The Merry Widow will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 3, Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April 5, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 6.
Tickets are $18 general admission; $12 for University of Rochester faculty and staff with University ID; and $8 for students. They are available at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave.; by phone (585) 454-2100; or online at esm.rochester.edu/concerts.
Pre-performance lectures will be presented at 6:15 p.m. on April 3, 4, and 5, and at 1 p.m. on April 6 in Room 120 of the Eastman School.
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Thursday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 6, at 2 p.m.
Eastman Opera Theatre presents Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow. Steven Daigle, stage director; Benton Hess, music director.
Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs St.
Tickets: $18 general admission; $12 for University of Rochester faculty and staff with University ID; and $8 for students; available at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave.; by phone (585) 454-2100; or online at esm.rochester.edu/concerts.