"The Merry Widow"

Civic Opera House

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In a Nutshell

Tony winner Susan Stroman directs opera legend Nicole Cabell in Lehár’s farcical operetta about a widow and her fortune

The Fine Print

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The Deal

The Merry Widow

Widow Hanna Glawari inherited a considerable fortune when her husband died. It’s so considerable, in fact, that without the tax proceeds from it, the economy of her home country (the fictional Balkan nation of Pontevedro) will collapse. So it’s only natural that when she arrives to a lavish party in Paris’s Pontevedro embassy, the ambassador, Baron Zeta, tries to marry her off to one of their fellow countrymen. But love is far too unpredictable for such schemes. It seems that Hanna already has plans of her own—as does the object of her eye, Count Danilo, and the Baron’s wife, a former can-can dancer. What follows is a farcical romp laced with humorous run-ins, swapped identities, effervescent romance, and, of course, plenty of can-can dancing.

Since its 1905 debut, Franz Lehár’s operetta has spawned multiple film adaptations and racked up countless fans across the world. One of those fans: five-time Tony Award–winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman, who’s taken the reins on The Merry Widow’s latest production. Joining her in the starring role is the Grammy-winning opera legend Renée Fleming, whose powerful soprano effortlessly brings showstoppers such as “Vilja-Lied” to life. “I’ve been telling friends it’s musical comedy with high notes,” she told The New York Times. “I’ve never done an operetta before, and it’s lighter in every way.”

Lyric Opera of Chicago

  • Founded: 1954
  • Home: Civic Opera House, a masterpiece of art deco and art nouveau design opened in 1929
  • Mission: to engage audiences with classic operas, lesser-known gems, and new works
  • Famous performers: Pavarotti, Maria Callas, dancer Rudolf Nureyev, Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade, and Renée Fleming have all graced the stage

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