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Hillman Opera presents English translation of ‘The Merry Widow’
Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hillman Opera presents English translation of ‘The Merry Widow’

The Hillman Opera will present an English translation of Franz Lehár’s classic work “The Merry Widow” from Nov. 13 to 15.

Performances are planned for Friday, Nov. 13 and Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinée on Sunday, Nov. 15 in Rockefeller Arts Center’s Marvel Theatre.

As is the Hillman Opera tradition, a large number of students will participate on stage, off stage, behind the stage and in the pit. Approximately 125 students will intersect with faculty in bringing this stunning production to life.

“The Merry Widow,” Lehár’s best-known composition, has been an audience favorite since its 1905 premiere.

Hillman Opera Producer Julie Newell said this production will be sung in a new English translation by British writer Jeremy Sams, which was published in 2000. “We are fortunate to have access to this highly energized and entertaining translation,” Ms. Newell said. “Mr. Sams updates his ‘Merry Widow’ libretto as he continues his work with the highly successful current production of ‘The Merry Widow’ at the Metropolitan Opera, which played last season to sold-out houses.”

The classic tells the tale of Hanna Glawari, a vivacious widow who knows everyone is after her money.

"The Merry Widow’ captures such effervescent joy, both through its truly stunning musical score, which is chock full of famous melodies, as well as through the universal tale of a second chance at love,” Newell said. “While set in late 19th century Paris, the story is timeless and crosses cultures. Thousands of modern popular songs reflect the exact same emotional joys, sorrows, fears and hopes reflected in this beautiful, ultimately comedic work.”

The production features many of Lehár’s most popular melodies including: the “Vilja Song,” “Then Off to Chez Maxim” and the “Merry Widow Waltz.” Newell said “Vilja” is perhaps the most famous single aria in all the operetta repertoire. “To this romantic element of the story, you add a raucous fraternity party styled men’s ensemble number ‘Why Are Women Like That?’ and a ladies ensemble of lovely Can-Can dancers and it creates a flow from scene to scene of beauty and vivacity,” Newell said.

The performance also features a large number of dance routines, the producer noted. “In addition to the ‘Grisettes’ - the can-can dancers who appear at Maxim’s - we have waltzing and folk dancing, as our story focuses around the fictional small European country of Pontevedro,” Newell said.

Another highlight, according to Newell, will be a new set design that has been created by Hyla Sue Stellhorn. “It features a glorious ballroom, among other visual beauties,” she said.

“The Fredonia Opera Orchestra will fill the orchestra pit with glorious sound,” Newell added.

“The Merry Widow” is sponsored by Joseph L. Gugino, CFP, MetLife as part of the Lake Shore Savings Season.Tickets are available at the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 and online at

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