The Merry Widow

Franz Lehár

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A sparkling whirlwind of comedy and romance

Hanna Glawari is a young, beautiful and stupendously wealthy widow hailing from the near-bankrupt nation of Pontevedro. Arriving in Paris, French bachelors everywhere vie excitedly for her attention. Meanwhile Baron Zeta, the Pontevedrian ambassador, must ensure that she marries the charming Count Danilo to save the state from financial ruin. Little does he know that Danilo and Hanna have a history…

Director Giles Havergal’s stylish production is complemented by opulent period costumes and dazzling choreography in a work which is filled with wonderful waltz rhythms, rich melodies and catchy tunes. Leslie Travers supplies elegant fin-de-siècle designs, and Kit Hesketh-Harvey applies brilliant wit to a fresh English version of the most popular of 20th-century operettas.


Music by FRANZ LEHÁR | Original book and lyrics by VICTOR LEON and LEO STEIN | Translated and adapted by Kit Hesketh Harvey with Giles Havergal for Opera North | Performed by arrangement with Glocken Verlag Limited, London

From £15 to £75*

Running time
Approximately 2 hours 15 minutes

Sung in English with English titles

A co-production with
Opera Australia

Pre-show talks
Tue 2, Sat 6, Wed 10, Fri 12 Oct (6.30–7.00pm), Sun 7 Oct (3.00–3.30pm) — free; please book in advance with Box Office or when booking your tickets.

*Prices vary by venue. Booking fees may apply.

What the critics said...

” This witty, well-paced production makes for a visual treat…unashamedly colourful and opulent…exudes energy…”

★★★★ — The Stage

“A welcome burst of innocent escapist pleasure…remains true to Lehár’s spirit of gaiety and romance.”

★★★★ — The Telegraph (2010)

“Effortlessly enjoyable…Opera North’s ensemble is a skilled group of entertainers.”

★★★★ — Financial Times (2010)


Accessible information

Audio notes: The following introduction includes a synopsis, descriptions of the sets and costumes, a list of the cast and production team, and some final information including venues, dates and times of the audio-described performances.


The wealthy widow Hanna Glawari is in Paris, looking for a new husband. Baron Zeta, the ambassador of her homeland, Pontevedro, is scheming to ensure she marries one of her countrymen in order to save Pontevedro from bankruptcy. The man he has in mind is Danilo Danilovitsch, but it soon turns out that the two were former lovers. Danilo’s is too proud and will not marry Hanna for her wealth. But he does agree to sabotage the efforts of the other bachelors at a party that evening.

The next day, Hanna hosts a party at her Parisian Villa in celebration of the Grand Duke’s birthday. During the festivities, Hanna announces her engagement to the French bachelor Camille. Baron Zeta is distraught and Danilo suddenly aware of his true feelings for Hanna, storms out to go and drown his sorrows at Maxim’s, his favourite cabaret club. Hanna sees Danilo’s reaction and realises that he does indeed love her and rejoices.

Hanna follows Danilo to Maxim’s and reveals to him that the engagement to Camille was a ruse; she was simply protecting another woman’s reputation. Danilo is delighted but still will not propose to Hanna. She then reveals that her late husband’s will states that she will lose her fortune if she remarries. Whilst all the other bachelors lose interest, Danilo is free to propose with his pride intact. She accepts and reveals a final twist, if she were to marry she would lose her fortune…to her new husband.

The Merry Widow

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