With a whirl of fabulous frocks and a generous splash of champagne, The Australian Ballet presents a tangled tale of love and diplomacy with The Merry Widow in the State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne from 7 June 2018.
Celebrating works created for The Australian Ballet this season, The Merry Widow was the first full-length production directed by Sir Robert Helpmann and commissioned by The Australian Ballet in 1975, and has since become a modern classic. Staged by ballet companies around the world, the original score was arranged and orchestrated by John Lanchbery – former Musical Director of The Australian Ballet.
The production captured international attention when the company toured The Merry Widow in the United States in 1976. The Australian Ballet was delighted to welcome the great Margot Fonteyn as a guest artist playing the role of Hanna and also welcomed her once again to play the role in Melbourne in 1977.
“I remember the first time I danced in The Merry Widow in 1985. I was so proud to be involved in a ballet that holds such a special place in The Australian Ballet history,” said Artistic Director David McAllister. “This season, we will see a new generation of dancers experience that same thrill.”
“2018 is all about the Power of Imagination, and I’m looking forward to seeing our talented dancers embody this and interpret the joy and romance of this glorious ballet in their own unique way.”
The Merry Widow unfolds in Paris in 1905 in the Embassy of Pontevedro, where a plot is afoot to marry Pontevedro’s wealthiest subject, Hanna Glawari, to a compatriot, thereby saving the state from certain bankruptcy. When it is revealed that the intended match, the dashing Count Danilo, once broke Hanna’s heart, the plot quickly unravels and mayhem ensues.
The Merry Widow combines the romantic antics of a French farce with the manners and elegance of Parisian high society. The choreography by Ronald Hynd evokes the serious frivolity of each decadent soiree with waltzes, cancans, polkas, and romantic duets.
Desmond Heeley’s opulent set and costume designs capture the glamour of the Belle Époque. Exquisite frocks in silk and velvet are detailed with lace, jewels and spangles, and matched with magnificent feathered hats. Lavish Art Nouveau ballrooms and salons come complete with enormous chandeliers and elegant staircases.
The Ballet is an adaptation of Franz Leha?r’s beloved romantic operetta of the same name, which first appeared in 1905. Former Musical Director John Lanchbery arranged and orchestrated the original score which buoys the action onstage with its theatricality and beautiful, hum-along melodies.
A landmark production in the history of The Australian Ballet, The Merry Widow is both testament to the creativity of the company and a rollicking good night at the theatre.
The Merry Widow
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St.Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 7 – 16 June 2018
Information and Bookings: www.australianballet.com.au
Image: Adam Bull and Amy Harris to star in The Merry Widow – photo by Justin Ridler