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L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!    

Merry Widow (The)

Musique: Franz Lehar
Paroles: Christopher Hassall

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Henry Savage was not the most successful producer on Broadway, but he somehow secured the American rights to The Merry Widow. His production used the British translation, minus most of the clowning added for London's Popoff. Adrian Ross was still credited for the lyrics, but the book adaptation went uncredited. The American premiere took place at Manhattan's sumptuous New Amsterdam Theatre on Oct. 21, 1907. Critics and audiences were delighted with every aspect of the lavish production, particularly the cast.

Ethel Jackson played Sonia, and handsome baritone Donald Brian was America's first Danilo. This duo's on-stage chemistry became legendary, and for decades to come, those who saw the original New York cast insisted that no other leads ever offered quite the same magic. Jackson left the cast after just five months, and never had a comparable success -- Brian, who was already a popular stage star, remained one of Broadway's top leading men into the 1920s.

Savage sent touring companies to cities all across the United States, so Widow-mania spread quickly. It eventually seemed as if "The Merry Widow Waltz" was playing on every piano and Victrola in the United States. A wide range of unauthorized "Merry Widow" merchandise soon appeared -- songbooks, oversized hats, shoes, cigars and even a popular style of corset. There was also a Merry Widow cocktail -- 1 1/2 oz. each of Gin & Sweet Vermouth, with a dash each of Pernod & Bitters, served strained over ice and garnished with a lemon twist.

1907 also saw the Widow and Danilo waltz their way to Stockholm. The following year they traveled to Copenhagen, Milan and Moscow. Their 1909 itinerary included Madrid, and the one European city which met the Widow with a palpable degree trepidation -- Paris.

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