Lehár's The Merry Widow

Helmut Lohner (stage director), Franz Welser-Möst (conductor) – Opernhaus Zürich

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Helmut Lohner — Stage director

Rolf Langenfass — Set designer, costume designer

Robertus Cremer — Lighting

Giorgio Madia — Choreographer

Dagmar Schellenberger — Hanna Glawari

Rodney Gilfrey — Graf Danilo

Ute Gfrerer — Valencienne

Rudolf A. Hartmann — Baron Mirko Zeta

Piotr Beczała — Camille de Rosillon

Herbert Prikopa — Njegus

Zurich Opera Chorus

Ernst Raffelsberger — Chorus director

Zurich Opera House Orchestra

Franz Welser-Möst — Music director

Program notes

The Merry Widow is a pitch-perfect example of everything we love about operetta as a genre: lightheartedness, cheekiness, slapstick comedy... all brought to the fore with brio in this remarkable production from Helmut Lohner, starring the stunning Dagmar Schellenberger in the role of Hanna Glawari.

The operetta emerged as a counterpoint to the French Grand Opera tradition, a heavily-coded genre that leaned heavily into serious, somber plots and bombastic style. With an almost anti-intellectual stance and astonishing irreverance, operetta poked fun at these solidly-established academic codes, leading Saint-Saëns to once quip that "the operetta is an opéra-comique's daughter gone bad—but those kinds of girls have their own kind of charm." And it seems that turn-of-the-century audiences were indeed charmed: The Merry Widow was performed more than 20,000 time in the four years following its 1905 Viennese premiere.

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