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The Merry Widow

Music by Franz Lehár: Book and lyrics by Victor Léon and Leo Stein from L'Attaché d'Ambassade by Henri Meilhac. : Theater an der Wein, Vienna - 30 December, 1905;
Daly's Theatre, London - 8 June, 1907 (Book and lyrics adapted by Basil Hood and Adrian Ross); New Amsterdam Theatre, New York - 21 October 1907 (416 perfs)

Professional Versions:

1) English by Christopher Hassall, - Sadler's Wells. 20 January, 1958
2) English book by Edmund Tracey, lyrics by Christopher Hassall,
3) English by Sheldon Harnick,
4) English by Nigel Douglas
5) English adaptation for amateur performance by Phil Park and Ronald Hanmer
6) Australian adaptation by Frank Hatherlery as The Merry Widow From Bluegum Creek

Often called 'The Queen of Operettas', this is certainly the most celebrated and successful show of its kind ever written. The melodies and songs - Vilja", "The Merry Widow Waltz", "You'll Find Me At Maxim's" to name but a few - are lovingly played and sung the whole world over, making it one of the surest box-office attractions of all time.


The action of The Merry Widow takes place in Paris. In Act I we find ourselves in the ballroom of the Pontivedrian Embassy. The Ambassador, Baron Zeta, has a problem on his, mind. He must find a way to save his country from bankruptcy. One solution is to prevent the rich and beautiful heiress Hanna Glavari from marrying a foreigner. He has decided that Count Danilo, an embassy attaché would be the ideal bridegroom, and the purpose of the party we are witnessing is to bring the two together. But all is not going to plan. Danilo, irresponsible and light-hearted, has not yet arrived at the party and can be found nowhere. Immersed in matchmaking, Baron Zeta has failed to observe that his wife Valencienne is engaged in a passionate flirtation with a French officer Camille, the Count de Rosillon. At last Anna arrives escorted by a crowd of hopeful suitors and the party adjourns for supper. Meanwhile Danilo arrives. He has been traced to his favourite resort "Chez Maxims". Exhausted by the round of party going, he falls asleep in the deserted ballroom. Valencienne and Camille return perturbed. Valencienne has forbidden Camille to declare his love, so he has written the words, "I Love You" on her fan and now the fan cannot be found anywhere. Anna reappears and Danilo awakens to greet her. They discover that they are old acquaintances, parted long since by Danilo's rich uncle. Anna reminds Danilo of their past affair but he declares that he will never marry her now because of her fortune. Further complications arise over the lost fan. Anna chooses Danilo for her partner in "Ladies,' Choice" and as she does so realises that her attraction for him is still alive in her heart. 


The scene is yet another party, this time in the garden of Anna's house. All the Pontivedrians are in national dress and Anna obliges with a national folksong, the famous "VILIA" which is of course one of Lehár's greatest successes Baron Zeta confides to Danilo the story of the fan. Danilo immediately recognises the writing as that of Camille, and is all agog as to whom the lady can be. Anna is still annoyed at Danilo for continuing to avoid her. She is now completely in love with him as he is with her. It is only her millions and his pride that keep them apart. Danilo continues his unsuccessful search for the owner of the fan. The In now comes into Anna's possession and she is convinced that the inscription on it is Danilo's declaration to her. 

Meanwhile Valencienne and Camille appear and the pair retire to the summer house. Now horrors! Baron Zeta has called a meeting of his staff at the very summerhouse. He find the door locked and through the keyhole he believes he sees his wife and Camille. Furiously he tries to break down the door, but Valencienne escapes by another way and Anna takes her place. Camille comes out of the summerhouse and announces, his engagement to Anna! Anna is delighted at Danilo's reaction to the announcement, he is furiously jealous and she interprets this as a sign of true love. 


We find ourselves again in the garden of Anna's house. This time it is decorated as "Chez Maxim's". Danilo is delighted to learn from Anna the truth of the summer house episode but he still cannot declare himself. Only when she tells him that by the terms of her late husband's will does she lose her millions upon remarriage, should he propose. She accepts, gladly and then tells him that the millions go to whoever becomes her new husband.

Details given below are for the Christopher Hassall English Version


BARON MIRKO ZETA,- Pontevedrian Ambassador in Paris.
COUNT DANILO DANILOVITCH, - his First Secretary.
BOGDANOWITSCH, - Pontevedrian Military Attaché.
SYLVIANE, - his Wife.
KROMOW, - Pontevedrian Councillor.
OLGA, - his Wife.
PRITSCHITSCH, - Pontevedrian Consul.
PRASKOWIA, - his Wife.
NJEGUS, - an Embassy Secretary.
CHORUS, - Ornaments of Parisian Society, Pontevedrians, etc.

Scenes and Settings

ACT 1: Grand Salon at the Pontevedrian Embassy in Paris.
ACT 2: The Garden of Anna Glawari's mansion. Evening of the next day.
ACT 3: The same. Later that night.

TIME: The turn of the century.

Musical Numbers


  1. Introduction - Pontevedro in Paree - "Speak for the men and the beauties"
    1a - Ballroom Music
  2. Duet - A highly respectable wife - (Valencienne, Camille) - "Look now's our chance"
  3. Entrance - Anna & Ensemble - "Gentlemen, no more ! I'm still a Pontevedrian"
    3a - Ballroom music
  4. Solo - I'm off to Chez Maxime - (Danilo) - "My very heavy Fatherland"
  5. Duet - All's one to all men when there's gold - (Anna, Danilo) - "One girl has almond eyes"
  6. Finale Act I - Ladies' Choice! - (Anna, Valencienne, Danilo, Camille, St. Brioche, Carcada, Chorus) - "Ladies' choice! Did you hear the gladd'ning voice?"


  1. Intoduction, Dance and Vilia Song - (Anna & Chorus) - "No one must go yet, fellow countrymen"
  2. Duet - Jogging in a one-horse gig - (Anna, Danilo) - "Gee up lassie, here we are"
  3. March-Septet - You're back where you first began - (Danilo, Zeta, Cascada, St. Brioche, Kromow, Bogdanowitsch, Pritschitsch) - "It's a problem how to manage"
  4. Melodrame & Dancing Scene - (Anna, Danilo)
  5. Duet and Romance - Red as the rose in Maytime - (Valencienne, Camille) - "Dear friend, be calm, you know I want to get you married"
  6. Finale Act II - (Ensemble) - "I wonder what it is they want"


12a. - Entr'acte - Vilia - song
12b. - Interlude

  1. The Cake-Walk
  2. Ensemble - Eh, voila les belles Grisettes! - "The Grisettes of Paris greet you"
    14a. - Ensemble (reprise) - (Lolo, Dodo, Jou-Jou, Clo-Clo, Frou-Frou, Margot, Danilo)
  3. Duet - Love unspoken - (Anna, Danilo) - "Love unspoken, faith unbroken"
  4. Company You're back where you first began (reprise) - "What to think, what to say, what to do"

English adaptation for amateur performance by Phil Park and Ronald Hanmer.

Principals: 11 female, 9 male

The Grisettes at Maxims


Notes on the Principal Characters:

Scenes and Musical Numbers

ACT I - A Salon in the Pontivedrian Embassy in Paris
ACT II - The Garden of Madame Glavari's Residence - early the following evening.
ACT III -The same as Act two - à la Maxim's later that night.

Musical Numbers

Act I

  1. Opening "Pontivedro in Paree" - Cascada, Zeta and Chorus
  2. Ballroom Music - Orchestra
  3. A Highly Respectable Wife - Valencienne and Camille
  4. So Many Men Admire Me - Ann and Men's Chorus
  5. You'll Find Me at Maxim's - Danilo and Ladies
  6. It Goes To Show - Anna and Danilo

Act II

  1. Vilia - Anna and Chorus
  2. Driving in the Park with You - Anna and Danilo
  3. Women! Women! Women! - Danilo, Cascada, Zeta, St. Brioche, Kromov, Bogdanovitsch & Pritschitsch
  4. The Waltz Scene - Anna, Danilo, Chorus and Dancers
  5. Flowers are Awakened in Maytime - Valencienne and Camille


  1. Opening Dance
  2. The Grisettes Song - Valencienne, Grisettes and Chorus
  3. Reprise: You'll Find me at Maxim's - Grisettes & Danilo
  4. The Merry Widow Waltz - Anna and Danilo
  5. Finale Act 3 - Full Company


flute, oboe, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, percussion, harp, strings.

Professional Versions:

2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 3 percussion, harp, stage music, strings