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Classical Ballet Franz Lehar "The Merry Widow" ("Die lustige Witwe")
Russian National Ballet Theatre

Schedule for Franz Lehar "The Merry Widow" ("Die lustige Witwe") 2021-2022

Composer: Franz Lehar

Orchestra: Symphony orchestra of the Summer Ballet Seasons


Act 1
The embassy in Paris of the poverty-stricken Grand Duchy of Pontevedro is holding a ball to celebrate the birthday of the sovereign, the Grand Duke. Hanna Glawari, who has inherited twenty million francs from her late husband, is to be a guest at the ball and the ambassador, Baron Zeta, wants to ensure that she will marry another Pontevedrian and keep her fortune in the country, so that Pontevedro would be saved from bankruptcy. Baron Zeta has in mind Count Danilo Danilovitsch, the First Secretary of the embassy, but his plans are not going well. Danilo is not at the party, so Zeta sends Njegus, the embassy secretary, to fetch him from Maxim`s.

Danilo finally arrives and meets Hanna. It emerges that they were in love before her marriage, but his uncle interrupted their romance because Hanna had absolutely nothing to her name. Although they still love each other, Danilo refuses to court Hanna because of her fortune and Hanna vows she will not marry him until he says "I love you".

Meanwhile, Baron Zeta`s wife Valencienne has been flirting with the French attache to the embassy, Count Camille de Rosillon, who writes "I love you" on her fan. Valencienne puts off Camille`s advances, saying that she is a respectable wife. However, they lose the incriminating fan, which is found by Kromow (who jealously fears that the fan belongs to his wife, Olga), who then gives the fan to Baron Zeta. Not recognising Valencienne`s fan, Baron Zeta decides to return the fan to Olga, in spite of Valencienne`s desperate offers to take the fan and return it, herself.

On his way to see Olga, the Baron meets Danilo, and his diplomatic mission takes precedence over the fan. The Baron orders Danilo to marry Hanna. Refusing to concede to the Baron`s demands, Danilo offers to eliminate any non-Pontevedrian suitors as a compromise.

The "Ladies` Choice" dance is about to start, and all the men are hovering around Hanna, hoping to be her choice of partner for the dance. Valencienne has decided to get Camille to marry Hanna so that he will not be a temptation, and therefore volunteers Camille as a partner to Hanna for her "Ladies` Choice" dance. Danilo goes to the ballroom to round up some of the other ladies to claim dances with the hopeful suitors of Hanna. Even after the ladies have made their choices, there are still some suitors left behind. Hanna chooses the one man who is apparently not interested in dancing with her – Danilo. Danilo refuses to dance, but claims the dance anyway. He puts the dance up for sale for ten thousand francs, with the proceeds of the sale to go to charity. This eliminates the interest of the would-be suitors in the dance. After the suitors have left, Danilo attempts to dance with Hanna. Hanna, annoyed at his response to her choosing him for the "Ladies` Choice", refuses to dance with him. Nonchalantly, Danilo begins to waltz by himself, eventually wearing down Hanna`s resistance, and she falls into his arms.

Act 2
Act 2 is set at a party in the garden at Hanna`s house, to celebrate the birthday of the Grand Duke in Pontevedrian fashion, and everybody is dressed in Pontevedrian clothing. Hanna entertains by singing an old Pontevedrian song, the famous "Vilja Song" (`Es lebt` eine Vilja, ein Waldmagdelein`). Meanwhile, Baron Zeta fears that Camille is a threat to his plan for Hanna to marry a Pontevedrian. Still not recognising the fan as Valencienne`s, the Baron orders Danilo to find out the identity of its owner, whom he assumes to be Camille`s married lover. A meeting is arranged between Zeta, Danilo and Njegus, to discuss the identity of the owner of the fan and also the problem with regard to the widow, with the meeting to be held that evening in Hanna`s garden pavilion. Hanna sees the fan, and thinks the message on it is Danilo`s declaration of love for her, which he denies. Danilo`s inquiries about the identity of the owner of the fan result in revelations of the details of the infidelities of some of the wives of Embassy personnel, but do not reveal the identity of the owner of the fan.

That evening, Camille and Valencienne meet in the garden. Valencienne continues to resist Camille`s advances, declaring that they must part. Camille begs for a keepsake, and discovers the fan, which Danilo had accidentally left behind, after his inquiries. Camille begs Valencienne to let him keep the fan as the keepsake, and Valencienne agrees, after writing "I`m a highly respectable wife" on the fan in response to Camille`s earlier written declaration of "I love you". Camille persuades Valencienne to enter the same pavilion in which Danilo, the Baron and Njegus had arranged to meet with him, so that they can say their goodbyes in private. Njegus, who arrives first for the meeting, discovers that Camille is in the pavilion with Valencienne. Njegus locks the door to the pavilion when Danilo and Baron Zeta arrive, and delays their entry to the pavilion. The Baron peeps through the keyhole, and is upset when he recognises his own wife. Njegus arranges with Hanna to change places with Valencienne. Camille leaves the pavilion followed by Hanna, confounding the Baron when they appear. Hanna announces that she is to marry Camille, leaving the Baron distraught at the thought of losing the Pontevedrian millions and Valencienne distraught at losing Camille. Danilo is furious and tells the story of a Princess who cheated on her Prince (`Es waren zwei Konigskinder`) and then storms off to seek the distractions at Maxim`s. Hanna realises that his anger at the announcement of her engagement shows that Danilo loves her and rejoices among the general despair.

Act 3
Act 3 is set at a theme party in Hanna`s ballroom, which she has decorated as Maxim`s, complete with Maxim`s grisettes (can-can dancers). Valencienne, who has dressed herself as a grisette, entertains the guests (`Ja, wir sind es, die Grisetten`). When Danilo arrives, having found the real Maxim`s empty, he tells Hanna to give up Camille for the sake of the country. Much to Danilo`s delight, Hanna tells him that she was never engaged to Camille, but that she was protecting the reputation of a married woman. Danilo is ready to declare his love for Hanna, and is on the point of doing so when he remembers her money, and stops himself. When Njegus produces the fan, which he had picked up earlier, Baron Zeta suddenly remembers that the fan belongs to Valencienne. Baron Zeta swears to divorce his wife and marry the widow himself, but Hanna tells him that she loses her fortune if she remarries. Hearing this, Danilo confesses his love for her and asks Hanna to marry him, and Hanna triumphantly points out that she will lose her fortune only because it will become the property of her husband. Valencienne produces the fan and assures Baron Zeta of her fidelity by reading out what she had replied to Camille`s declaration: `Ich bin eine anstandige Frau` (`I`m a respectable wife`); and all ends happily.

Schedule for Franz Lehar "The Merry Widow" ("Die lustige Witwe") 2021-2022

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