The Merry Widow

OA The Merry WidowMelbourne-born international opera star Danielle de Niese will make a triumphant return to her hometown to perform in Franz Lehár’s charming operetta The Merry Widow at Arts Centre Melbourne from 15 November 2017.

With spirited choreography and direction from Graeme Murphy, former director of Sydney Dance Company, The Merry Widow provides ample doses of fun and frivolity, and a light-hearted look at love amid the champagne and glitter of Art Deco France. Ladies sweep into ballrooms in silk fishtail gowns, and dapper gents in suits and patent leather shoes kiss your hand and fill up your dance card.

Danielle de Niese stars as the beguiling widow, Hanna Glawari, inadvertent heiress of a city’s fortune after just eight days of marriage. Fearing the loss of their riches, the society set are determined that she must wed a local, and soon, before any foreigner catches her gaze. But she’s got a history with the man they’ve got in mind, and to complicate matters, the widow isn’t the only one turning heads. There’s plenty of love to go around in this story of amorous encounters and elegant romance.

“We’re tremendously excited to have Danielle de Niese making her opera debut in Melbourne,” said Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini. “This will be an unmissable opera production filled with incredible tunes, unforgettable dance and a captivating lead.”

De Niese boasts a story that you couldn’t make up. Of Sri Lankan descent, she grew up in Melbourne before moving to LA at the age of 11, where she became the host of television show L.A Kids, and won an Emmy for at age 16. Making her professional operatic debut at the age of 15 with the Los Angeles Opera, she became the youngest singer ever to participate in the Young Artists Studio at the Metropolitan Opera. Married to Gus Christie, chairman of Glyndebourne Festival Opera, de Niese, Christie and their son now reside at Glyndebourne opera house.

“I wanted Graeme to direct because I wanted it to feel like a dance musical,” added Terracini. “It is an operetta with a ‘Great Gatsby’ feel to it. It needs to move – yes it’ll be funny but it’ll be beautiful with wonderful singers and actors who you really need for this piece to be done well. It’s thrilling that this new production involves such wonderful performers and big stars.”

Conductor: Vanessa Scammell Director & Choreographer: Graeme Murphy Associate Director & Choreographer: Janet Vernon Set Designer: Michael Scott-Mitchell Costume Designer: Jennifer Irwin Lighting Designer: Damien Cooper Sound Designer: Tony David Cray Assistant Director & Choreographer: Shane Placentino Assistant Director: Matthew Barclay English Translation: Justin Fleming

The Merry Widow
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 15 – 25 November 2017

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Image: Danielle de Niese to star in The Merry Widow – courtesy of Opera Australia