Die lustige Witwe - Operetta by Franz Lehár
March 7, 2024, 7:30 p.m.
Franz Lehár’s operetta Die lustige Witwe premiered in Vienna in 1905, igniting a brand-new, international case of operetta fever. As far away as New York, the enthusiasm soon spilled over into everyday life: people wore Merry Widow hats, smoked Merry Widow cigarettes, and slurped down Merry Widow cocktails. The buzzing metropolises of the early 20th century provided the ideal breeding ground for a kind of commercial operetta cult. Philosopher Theodor Adorno compared the hustle and bustle around the Merry Widow to the success of the department stores that were springing up at the time. As in a window display, Lehár’s operetta – from its catchy hit tune to its folkloric manner, and from its frivolous cancan to its maudlin waltz duet – musically offers everything the heart desires. Even the plot itself takes the audience into an illusory world of love and wealth: the rich widow Hanna Glawari is idolized by Parisian men. Meanwhile, Mirko Zeta, ambassador of the heavily indebted state of Pontevedro, worries that the widow might lose her heart and her millions to a Frenchman, and sets the bon vivant Danilo upon her. But Hanna and Danilo are loathe to give off the impression that their union is only about money, and decide to take things slowly. From today’s perspective, there is no doubt that beneath the sheen of the fictional operetta state of Pontevedro and the exaggeratedly asserted laidback approach to life in the Merry Widow, there is a sense of the approaching decline of the bourgeois world, of political conflict, and impending inflation.
Stage director Barrie Kosky, whose numerous original operetta productions at the Komische Oper in Berlin revived the genre of operetta in recent years, will stage the Merry Widow at the Opernhaus Zürich. It will be the first time he works on an operetta here. Marlis Petersen and Michael Volle, two outstanding singers and performers, will play the central roles. The young, talented Austrian Patrick Hahn will conduct the Philharmonia Zürich.
Kulturstelle contact: Ana Kitanovic email
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