THE MERRY WIDOW

 

The Merry Widow takes place in Paris and concerns the desperate bid on the part of the Pontevedrian embassy staff to save the ailing economy of their country. Anna, the merry widow of the title, has inherited 20 million Proubles after the death of her Pontevedrian millionaire husband Glavari.

 

This naturally makes her an eminently marriageable proposition, and her entry on the scene in Paris sees her followed by a host of eager Parisian suitors. The Pontevedrian ambassador, however, has received instructions from his foreign minister that the balance of payments of his country entirely depends on the Glavari fortune, and that Anna must therefore marry a Pontevedrian.

 

The ambassador's choice falls not unnaturally on his embassy secretary, the attractive Count Danilo, whose name has been romantically linked with that of Anna in the past The flames of this romance are far from dead, but Danilo is a pleasure-loving fellow, preferring the attractions of the Parisian nightlife to his desk at the embassy, and any call on his sense of national duty is likely to fall on deaf ears. Besides, both Anna and Danilo have their pride to look after, and cannot possibly allow themselves to capitulate to each other's irresistible charm without a brave struggle for independence.

                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

ACT I

Opens with a reception at the Pontevedrian embassy, where Valencienne, the wife of the ambassador, Baron Zeta, is enjoying a clandestine flirtation with an ardent French nobleman, Camille de Rosillon. Anna arrives amid a flurry of admirers. Danilo is summoned to deal with them; he refuses Anna's offer of a dance, but puts it up for sale to the other men who soon melt away, leaving Danilo and Anna to confront each other alone.

 

ACT II

Takes us to the garden of Anna 's Parisian home, where typical Pontevedrian songs and dances provide the entertainment. A fan has been found, bearing the incriminating words “I love you”, but Zeta and Danilo are unable to discover the owner, who is actually Valencienne. She tells Camille that their affair must end, as her husband is determined to discover the identity of Camille's married lover. Camille succeeds in luring her into the garden pavilion, however, for a last goodbye. Unfortunately, Zeta arrives on the scene and spies his wife through the keyhole. At the last minute, however, Anna takes Valencienne's place in the pavilion, and it is she and Camille who emerge, much to everyone's surprise. When Anna announces that she is to marry Camille, Danilo bursts into an angry tirade, then rushes off to Maxim's. Anna realizes jubilantly at last that he really loves her.

                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT III

Anna's garden has been transformed into “Maxim's”. Danilo is brought back and joins in the merriment. There is a cabaret, performed by the Grisettes of Maxim's, led by Valencienne. Anna and Danilo finally declare their love for each other. The fan is produced again, but Valencienne insists that Zeta should read her reply—“I'm a highly respectable wife”. All are reconciled, and the operetta ends with an ironic reflection on the capriciousness of women.

The Merry Widow virtually defines the Silver Age of operettas: a plot charged with tingling emotional encounters, plenty of misunderstandings and an exotic setting - in this case, Our young heroine Hanna Glawari has just inherited her late husband’s fortune and is the target of many ardent suitors. Were she to marry and take her fortune abroad, her homeland would go bankrupt. Romance, political intrigue and chorus line of lusty CanCan girls in the early 1900s.

© 2018 by European Chamber Opera

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