Die Lustige Witwe

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Die Lustige Witwe ("the widow") is a German operetta by composer Franz Lehár (1870-1948)[1] and librettists Viktor Léon [2] and Leo Stein [3].

The original text

The story is based on an 1861 French comedy play, L'attaché d'ambassade ("The Embassy Attaché") by Henri Meilhac [4], which tells of concerning a rich widow, and her countrymen's attempt to keep her money in the principality by finding her the right husband.

The operetta was first performed in German at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 30 December 1905, and toured in Austria in 1906. It became an immense success across the globe.

Translations and adaptations

Translations and adaptations of the libretto

Adapted into English as The Merry Widow by Basil Hood (1864-1917)[5], with lyrics by Adrian Ross (1859-1933)[6], it became a sensation after opening at Daly's Theatre, London, on 8 June 1907. Produced by George Edwardes, the operetta had an astounding 778 performances in London and toured widely in Britain. It opened in America on 21 October 1907 at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway, where it ran for 416 performances. Numerous touring companies then took it across the US, all using the libretto by Hood and Ross. It became best known internationally by it English title.

A number of other translations and adaptations into English have been done in the 20th century - see for example the entry on "The Merry Widow" in Wikipedia[7]

Translated into French as La Veuve joyeuse (opening in Paris at the Théâtre Apollo on 28 April 1909) and has been done in Italian as La Vedova Allegra.

Film versions

Various films have been made of the story over the years, at times rather loosely based on the plot of the operetta. These include silent versions by Michael Curtiz (1918) and Erich von Stroheim (1925), a black-and-white version by Ernst Lubitsch, starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald (1934), a Technicolor version with Lana Turner and Fernando Lamas (1952) and an Austrian version by Werner Jacobs (1962).

Performance history in South Africa

1908: First performed in South Africa on 24 August at the Cape Town Opera House by a Gaiety Company under the management of the Wheeler Brothers, with Frank Wheeler in the role of "Prince Danilo". It was the actor's last appearance on stage in Cape Town.

1909: Performed once again at the Cape Town Opera House at the start of the year by the Gaiety Company under the management of the Wheeler Brothers, with F.J. Blackman now playing "Prince Danilo".


1959: Staged by the Port Elizabeth Gilbert & Sullivan Society

1973: Staged by CAPAB in the Nico Malan Opera House.

1978: Staged by the Port Elizabeth Gilbert & Sullivan Society

1979: PACT. Conducted by Edgar Cree. Producer and costume designer: Neels Hansen. Choreographer: Geoffrey Sutherland. PACT Orchestra. Cast inclue Mimi Coerste; Emile Belcourt; Dawie Couzyn; Elize Botha; Stephen Tudor; David Sherwood; Ian Donald; George Kok; Bruce Anderson; Olive King; Clive Roffey; Margaret Beerstecher; De Wet van Rooyen; Clair Robins. Performed at the Aula, Pretoria; Civic Theatre, Johannesburg.

1983: Produced by PACT directed by Neels Hansen, and starring Roberta Palmer and Gé Korsten at the Pretoria State Theatre.

1989: Staged by CAPAB in the Nico Malan Opera House, directed by Angelo Gobbato, conducted by Leo Quayle and choreographed by Pamela Chrimes. The cast included: Andrea Catzel (Hanna Glawari, the widow), Gé Korsten (Count Danilo), John Eager (Baron Mirko Zeta), Aviva Pelham (his wife), international tenor Edmondo Rahme (Camille), De Wet van Rooyen (Vicomte Cascade), David Dennis (Njegus) and others. Decor designed by Peter Cazalet and lighting by John T. Baker.

19**: Staged by NAPAC, directed and choreographed by John Pygram and conducted by Hans Menck. The cast included: Dorothy Avrich (Anna Glavari, the widow), Michael Gritten (Count Danilo), Peter Deighton (Baron Mirko Zeta), Anna Ware (his wife), Cyril Dowse (Camille) and others.

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Merry_Widow

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_L%C3%A9on

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Stein_%28writer%29

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 428, 430

CAPAB theatre programme, 1989.

NAPAC theatre programme (undated).

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

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