VIE-STYLE

Classic operetta The Merry Widow to premiere in HCM City

A special adaptation of the classic operetta Die Lustige Witweer (The Merry Widow), composed by Franz Lehár to libretto by Viktor Leon and Leo Stein, will premiere at the HCM City Opera House on August 12 and 13.

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MODERN TWIST: The production team of a special adaptation of classic operetta ‘Die Lustige Witweer’ (The Merry Widow) by Franz Lehar, which will premiere in HCM City on August 12 and 13. Photo courtesy of HBSO

HCM CITY A special adaptation of the classic operetta Die Lustige Witweer (The Merry Widow), composed by Franz Lehár to libretto by Viktor Leon and Leo Stein, will premiere at the HCM City Opera House on August 12 and 13.

The project is a collaboration between the HCM City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) and the Goethe Institute in Việt Nam.

The Merry Widow debuted in 1905 in Austria, and was immediately received with enthusiasm, having nearly 500 performances in Austria and other European countries.

Only two years after its premiere, the play hit Broadway with more than 400 shows. It also has been made into a ballet and adapted on the big screen many times.

The original story revolves around the relationship between young wealthy widow Hanna and Count Danilo, her first love who intends to win her heart for fortune.

In the version for HBSO, the hundred-year-old story will be set at an imaginary theatre. The new story unfolds with the wealthy widow Hanna paying a visit to the theatre.

The work is directed by Anna Weber, who worked with HBSO to stage the crime opera titled Yesterday’s Memory premiered in 2019 in the city.

Weber said she had a vision of operetta as a theatrical form that could bring up social critique with humorous tones, particularly the position of women in today’s society through the play.

The operetta is written by playwright-dramaturg Trà Nguyễn, who earned her MA in dramatic writing at Carnegie Mellon University in the US.

The play will be sung in German, and have many dialogues in Vietnamese.

Trà said Anna and Askan (director) had an idea of making a new story from the hundred-year-old music, so she worked with Lina (stage designer) and Tom (costume designer) to turn the idea into a play. And the result was new dialogues and scenes to make a new story.

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TALENTED SINGERS: Soprano Phạm Khánh Ngọc and bass-baritone Đào Mác will play Hanna and Danilo in the play. Photo courtesy of HBSO

The performance will feature soprano Phạm Khánh Ngọc as Hanna and bass-baritone Đào Mác as Danilo, along with HBSO soloists, choir and symphony orchestra.

Ngọc said, “My colleagues and I worked so hard to rehearse for the operetta. In this work, we have to dialogue and act so much, which we have not had to do before.”

She expected the play would be welcomed by audiences and be staged many times in the future.

German conductor Askan Geisler, who worked with HBSO on previous plays and music nights as co-creators, will lead the orchestra.

Lina Oanh Nguyễn, a Vietnamese-born artist and designer who grew up in Germany, promises to surprise audiences with visual effects, and bring a new breath to the play with the stage conveying vibrant atmospheres from the streets and markets of Sài Gòn [former name of HCM City].

Meanwhile, Tom Trandt, a graduate of Parsons The New School for Design in New York and owner of fashion brand Môi Điên, will be the play’s costume designer.

The Merry Widow will be on stage at 8pm at 7 Lam Sơn Square in District 1.

Tickets are available at the venue or at www.ticketbox.vn. – VNS