L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!
Merry Widow (The)
Die Lustige Witwe was set in Paris, but the French were not exactly clamoring to see how Austrians depicted their beloved capital. Curiosity finally won out, and many attended the first night of La Veuve joyeuse at the Apollo Theatre on April 28, 1909 with openly proclaimed intentions of hating the show. As it turned out, the Paris production was well received and managed a respectable run of 186 performances.
In this version, Hanna became "Missia," an American raised in "Marsovie" -- and the French libretto specified that she be played with a combination English-Slav accent. This was done on the assumption that French audiences would have an easier time accepting an American woman as a millionaire. Count Danilo became a prince with gambling debts, which made his feelings about courting a rich widow even more complex. The final act was set in Maxim's -- not because the idea had already worked in London and New York, but because Parisian audiences would not accept anything less.
In 1910, The Merry Widow made its way to Brussels. In the years that followed, the show was produced in every city that made any claim to a theatre-going public. In Gold and Silver: The Life and Times of Franz Lehar (New York: David McKay Company, 1970, p. 129), Dr. Bernard Grun estimates that The Merry Widow was performed about half a million times in its first sixty years. Worldwide sales of sheet music and recordings both ran into the tens of millions. No other play or musical up to that time had enjoyed such a dazzling international commercial success.