The Australian Ballet presents The Merry Widow: a decadent tale of love, money and trickery

March 24, 2011

Ballet, Press Releases

ballet dancers on stage

Robert Curran and Kirsty Martin inw The Merry Widow. Photo by Paul Empson.

For immediate release Thursday 24 March 2011   

The Merry Widow: a decadent tale of love, money and trickery

Something is afoot in the fun, frothy world of 1905 Paris society

Fabulous frocks and dashing aristocrats abound
in this frothy production of a much-loved classic,
set to take audiences into the magical world of
The Merry Widow

After an absence of over ten years, Sir Robert Helpmann and Ronald Hynd’s effervescent production returns in 2011 in celebration of
The Australian Ballet’s history.

The Merry Widow opens in Melbourne on
23 June before travelling to Sydney on
10 November 2011.

Created by Helpmann and Hynd in 1975,
The Merry Widow was the first full-length production ever created for The Australian Ballet and heralded the arrival of Australian ballet to the global dance community.

It has since come to life on the world stage, performed by companies such American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet and most recently, Joffrey Ballet.

Last staged by The Australian Ballet in 2000,
The Merry Widow
is one of the most performed ballets in the company’s history, having clocked
up an impressive 370 performances in the 36 years
since it was created.

Joining The Australian Ballet to assist in restaging The Merry Widow is the original Danilo, John Meehan. Now Director of the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre in New York, this role was created
on Meehan in 1975 when he was a principal artist with The Australian Ballet.

Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet,
David McAllister, says this ballet is an audience favourite for good reason.

The Merry Widow for us illustrates our coming of age; it’s where we consolidated our influences
and really put an Australian spin on ballet”, explains McAllister.

“It’s such a fun production – both to watch and to dance – and there’s always a gasp when Hanna comes down the stairs looking radiant and ready
to save Pontevedro with her newly acquired
wealth, not to mention all the romance and
intrigue that ensues.”

The Story

Based on Franz Lehár’s 1905 operetta of the same name, The Merry Widow tells the tale of a Balkan state, Pontevedro, on the brink of bankruptcy
and the scheming Baron with a plan to save the country from ruin.

From embassy ballrooms to villa gardens and Parisian cafes, plans are foiled, feuds erupt and lovers reunite as the future of Pontevedro lies in
the hands of the Merry Widow.

John Lanchbery and Alan Abbott’s arrangement of Lehár’s original score transforms The Merry Widow from an operetta into a dramatic three act story ballet. Act 1 culminates in a romantic waltz that will stay
with the audience long after the curtain closes.

Also leaving a lasting impression are the lavish costumes and striking sets designed by Desmond Heeley.

With misunderstandings, trysts, allegiances and spectacular twists, The Merry Widow is the perfect ballet pick-me-up.

What the critics had to say about
The Merry Widow

“Romantic, escapist charm and opulent sets and costumes”
Courier Mail, 2000

“The choreography flows irresistibly”
Sunday Herald Sun, 2000


Choreography Ronald Hynd
Scenario and staging Robert Helpmann  
Music Franz Lehár (Presented by arrangement with Glocken Verlag Limited)
Based on the operetta by Victor Leon and Leo Stein
Musical adaptation and additional music
John Lanchbery and Alan Abbott
Costume and set design Desmond Heeley
Lighting design Francis Croese


Melbourne 23 June – 4 July 2011
(13 performances)
the Arts Centre, State Theatre
with Orchestra Victoria

Sydney 10 – 28 November 2011
(20 performances)
Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House
with Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra

Bookings or 1300 369 741


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