The operetta has enjoyed extraordinary international success since its premiere in Vienna and continues to be frequently revived and recorded. Film and other adaptations have also been made. In early , Viennese librettist Leo Stein came across the play and thought it would make a good operetta. The two adapted the play as a libretto and updated the setting to contemporary Paris, expanding the plot to reference an earlier relationship between the widow this time a countrywoman and the Count, and moving the native land from a dour German province to a colourful little Balkan state. In addition, the widow admits to an affair to protect the Baron's wife, and the Count's haven is changed to the Parisian restaurant and nightclub Maxim's.

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The first years of the 20th century in the Viennese musical theatre were not rich in successes. Karczag, however, showed little enthusiasm for the show.

During little had gone right for him. His pride assuaged, he now proposes, only to find — as all ends happily — that the money goes to the new husband. Almost every portion of the Die lustige Witwe score became familar and popular in the years which followed but it was, perhaps, the big waltz duet and the march octet which stood out from the crowd at first.

The success of Die lustige Witwe was never in doubt. The show ran through the spring at the Theater an der Wien, totalling performances by the time, at the end of April, that the traditional summer closure began.

Die lustige Witwe did not, however, close but transferred first to the Raimundtheater and then to the Volksoper to continue its run with some 69 guest performances. The two stars held their places, but amongst the minor characters now appeared both Julius Brammer Cascada, after having originally been Pritschitsch and Robert Bodanzky Pritschitsch , before long to be much better known as librettists.

When the Theater an der Wien reopened in September, Die lustige Witwe resumed and on 11 January it passed its th, and on 24 April its th performance. In the meanwhile, the foreign productions had begun. Their success was, again, indubitable, and the show was promptly taken up for a local production at the Theater des Westens 1 March It remained there for performances. The book underwent some alterations for the London presentation of the show initially announced as The Jolly Widow.

There were other alterations, too. The English Widow proved as popular as her Continental counterpart, running solidly for two years and two months, a total of performances, before beginning the round of tours, and it launched in Britain, as it would elsewhere, a mad rage for Viennese shows which would last until the war.

Theatrical mythology has every country unwillingly taking on Die lustige Witwe without any expectation of success. Given its untarnished record of triumph, this seems unlikely.

Franck gave the text to the most popular upmarket comedy writers of the day, Gaston de Caillavet and Robert de Flers, for adaptation and they, like the British, made their amendments to the original. The French Danilo is a Prince gone broke through gambling. The success of Die lustige Witwe prompted many burlesques throughout the world. The immensley successful silent movie version from , directed by Erich von Stroheim.

That problem, of course, raised its head elsewhere and a curious lawsuit arose in New York when Savage attacked one variety house for playing The Merry Widow without permission. Inevitably, Die lustige Witwe made its way on to film. A projected s British film which, like this last, used the Operette as part of another story, vanished off the schedules without being made.

Two pieces put out by Vitagraph in as Courting the Merry Widow and The Merry Widow Takes Another Husband were fakers that used the famous title to try to interest customers in what was no more that a one-lady, two-men short. London saw Carl Brisson three times as Danilo, paired with Evelyn Laye, Nancie Lovat and Helen Gilliland, but if the last of these signalled a switch to a more legit singing widow, a reprise starring Madge Elliott and Cyril Ritchard put the ball squarely back in the light-comedy area.

The last commercial London production of the piece was in with Lisbeth Webb. In New York, where revivals had passed in , and , musical film-stars Marta Eggerth and Jan Kiepura played the piece in before going on to repeat their performances around the world. In Germany, on the other hand, the piece, which has elsewhere suffered surprisingly little from the depredations of directors out to make themselves noticed by setting it in Greenland or the 14th century, has had some rather extreme treatments.

Lily Elsie as the Merry Widow. Comments Cancel.


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