Lustige Witwe, Die (The Merry Widow)
  • Franz Lehár. Operette in three acts. 1905.
  • Libretto by Victor Léon and Leo Stein, after the play L’Attaché d’ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac.
  • First performance at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna, on 30th December 1905.
CHARACTERS
Baron Mirko Zeta, Pontevedrin ambassador in Paris baritone
Valencienne, his wife soprano
Count Danilo Danilowitsch, cavalry officer, legation secretary tenor
Hanna Glawari, a rich widow soprano
Camille de Rosillon tenor
Vicomte Cascada baritone
Raoul de St Brioche baritone
Bogdanowitsch, Pontevedrin consul baritone
Sylviane, his wife soprano
Kromow, counsellor at the Pontevedrin legation baritone
Olga, his wife mezzo-soprano
Pritschitsch, retired Pontevedrin colonel baritone
Praskowia, his wife mezzo-soprano
Njegus, clerk at the legation speaking part
Lolo, Dodo, Jou-Jou, Frou-Frou, Clo-Clo, Margot, girls from Maxim’s sopranos

Baron Mirko is anxious that the fortune left to the Pontevedrin widow Hanna Glawari by her banker husband should not be lost to their country. He therefore tries to force Count Danilo to marry her. Danilo resists the suggestion and there is, in any case, a rumour that she may marry the French Camille de Rosillon, who is in fact conducting a flirtation with the Pontevedrin envoy’s wife. Hanna, whatever misunderstandings may take place, secretly loves Danilo, and he, in spite of his scruples against fortune-hunters, loves her, a love realised as the operetta comes to an end.

Die lustige Witwe is probably the best known of all Lehár’s operettas. Danilo expresses his resistance to any infringement of his liberty as a bachelor in Paris in O Vaterland (O fatherland), giving an outline of his busy day out of the office, with nights spent at Maxim’s. Hanna Glawari evokes the spirit of her country in her famous Vilja-Lied (There was once a forest maiden). Camille woos Valencienne with Wie eine Rosenknospe (Like a rose-bud), transferring his addresses to Hanna, when they have been spied by Baron Mirko. The difficulties between Hanna and Danilo disappear in the third-act waltz duet Lippen schweigen (Lips are silent).