L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!
Merry Widow (The)
Leon & Stein updated the story line to their own time, the dawn of the 20th Century, and came up with the provocative title Die Lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow). The action opens during a gala reception at the Parisian embassy of Pontevedro, a fictional Eastern European kingdom reminiscent of Montenegro. Ambassador Mirko Zeta is oblivious to the flirtation between his much younger and supposedly "virtuous" wife Valencienne and the handsome French aristocrat Camille de Rosillon. Mirko knows that his fatherland faces bankruptcy if its richest citizen, the young widow Hanna Glawari, should marry a foreigner. Zeta orders his attaché, Count Danilo Danilowitch, to ward off the money hungry horde of potential suitors swarming around the wealthy beauty.
The librettists added a new dimension to the existing story -- Hannah and Danilo are not exactly strangers. It seems that they had a torrid affair when Hannah was a poor farm girl, but Danilo's royal uncle would not let him marry a penniless commoner. As a precaution, Danilo was bundled off to Paris, where he finds inebriated consolation among the dancing girls ("grisettes") at Maxim's. Soon afterwards, Hannah caught the eye of the wealthy Herr Glawari, who married her and then conveniently died on their honeymoon, leaving her all of his "twenty millions". When Hannah and Danilo meet again after all these years, she teasingly suggests that her fortune now makes her easier to love . Danilo refuses to be classified as a fortune hunter. So, Hannah and Danilo are stuck -- both in love and both unwilling to admit it.
In the second act, the Widow throws a Pontevedrian costume party at her Paris mansion. When Camille and Valencienne are caught during a rendezvous in the garden pavilion, Hannah gallantly takes Valencienne's place. To assuage the Ambassador's suspicions, Hannah announces that she and Camille are engaged, and a jealous Danilo storms off to Maxim's and his beloved grisettes.
For the third act, the Widow turns her home into a replica of Maxim's, hiring out the waiters and grisettes for the evening -- knowing this will lure Danilo back. When he arrives and confronts Hannah, she tells him that the engagement was all a bluff, and that she must lose her entire fortune if she remarries. They finally admit their mutual love while singing and dancing a sensual waltz. Valencienne manages to reassure Ambassador Zeta of her fidelity, and Hannah admits she will lose her fortune -- because every cent will go to her next husband.