The lavish new staging of Lehár’s effervescent operetta The Merry Widow is the Met debut of Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman, whose many credits include the Tony Award-winning musicals Crazy for You, Contact, and The Producers. Star soprano Renée Fleming adds a beguiling new character to her wide-ranging Met repertory as Hanna, the widowed Pontevedrian millionairess.
Sir Andrew Davis conducts the stellar cast that also includes baritone Nathan Gunn as Hanna’s lover Danilo; tenor Alek Shrader as the young nobleman Camille de Rosillon; and baritone Sir Thomas Allen as the scheming Baron Zeta. Broadway star Kelli O’Hara, best known for her acclaimed performances in South Pacific and The Light in the Piazza, and currently starring in The King and I, makes her highly-anticipated Met debut as the Baron’s coquettish wife Valencienne.
The Merry Widow airs on Great Performances at the Met Friday, June 19 at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.) (In New York, THIRTEEN will repeat the program Sunday, June 21 at 12:30 p.m.)
The frothy operetta is performed in English, in Jeremy Sams’ new translation. Lehár’s best-known composition has been an audience favorite since its 1905 premiere and features a great deal of well-known music, including the Vilja Song, “Then Off to Chez Maxim,” and the “Merry Widow Waltz.”
Mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato hosts the broadcast.
Opera synopsis from the Met Opera.
When the production premiered, the Huffington Post raved, “The new Merry Widow is breathtaking to look at and a pleasure to hear… It is hard to imagine a merrier widow than Renée Fleming. O’Hara is a small revelation in her first operatic outing, making the transition from the Broadway stage to the Met opera house seem as easy as a subway ride uptown.”
And The New York Times observed, “… from the glowing, subtle performance that the conductor Andrew Davis coaxed from the Met orchestra, it’s clear that he loves the 1905 score.”
The Wall Street Journal declared “Ms. Stroman’s choreography had plenty of sizzle—from the ballroom dances at the embassy to the folk numbers in Act II and the can-can of Act III, the last anchored by the six Broadway dancers who played Maxim’s grisettes.”
Production Credits Print
More on the Production
The Merry Widow was originally seen live in movie theaters on January 17, 2015 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The Live in HD series has reached a record-breaking 17 million viewers since its inception in 2006.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Major funding for the Met Opera presentation is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This Great Performances presentation is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and public television viewers.
For the Met, Gary Halvorson directs the telecast. Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.
Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs.
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About the Met
Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine, the Met has a series of bold initiatives underway that are designed to broaden its audience and revitalize the company’s repertory. The Met’s 2014-15 season features five new productions shown Live in HD, including Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, conducted by James Levine and directed by Richard Eyre; Lehár’s The Merry Widow, conducted by Andrew Davis and directed by Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman; Rossini’s La Donna del Lago, conducted by Michele Mariotti and directed by Paul Curran; Tchaikovsky’s one-act opera Iolanta presented in a double bill with a new staging of Bartók’s one-act Bluebeard’s Castle, conducted by Valery Gergiev and directed by Mariusz Treliński; and Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, led by Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi and directed by David McVicar.
Building on its 84-year-old radio broadcast history—heard over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network—the Met uses advanced media distribution platforms and state-of-the-art technology to reach audiences around the world. The Met: Live in HD, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of live performance transmissions to movie theaters around the world, returns for its ninth season in 2014-15 with ten live transmissions. Met Opera on Demand, a subscription service, makes selections from the company’s extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public online in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. Metropolitan Opera Radio on Sirius XM broadcasts live performances from the Met stage three times a week during the opera season and the Met offers free live audio streaming of performances on its website once a week during the opera season.