'The Merry Widow'

Armidale Town Hall - April 1967

Stage Direction by Alan Kerr
Musical Direction by Neville Meale

Music by Franz Lehar. New Libretto by Phil Park. By arrangement with Chappel and Co Ltd.

SYNOPSIS

Act I

The staff-members of the Pontevedrian Embassy in Paris and their friends are gathered at a party to celebrate the birthday of the aged Duke of Pontevedro. The men, including the Ambassador Zeta, are excitedly awaiting the arrival of Anna Glavari, the "Merry Widow", whose husband's legacy amounted to twenty million. The Ambassador is anxious to see that no one but a Pontevedrian marries the widow because the loss of her fortune would mean bankruptcy to the state. Zeta is relying on Count Danilo Danilovitsch to marry Anna and thus make her fortune secure. The problem is, however, that although Anna and Danilo were formerly sweethearts, their marriage was forbidden by the Danilovitsch family because at that stage Anna was a penniless girl not of high station. She married an elderly banker who performed to marry Anna merely because her fortune makes her an acceptable match. He spends much of his time with the Grisettes at Maxim's.

Meanwhile Valencienne, daughter of the American Ambassador to Pontevedro and wife of Baron Zeta, is having a more or less innocent amorous dalliance with Camille de Rosillon, a Frenchman, who has written his declaration of love on Valencienne's fan. She is finding the conduct of this affair a strain and seeks to end it by marrying Camille off to Anna. There are two other main contenders for Anna's hand, the Frenchman St Brioche and Cascada.

Kromov finds the fan, imagines it to be his wife's and is appalled to think she may be unfaithful. Zeta declares it to be Valencienne's and forces her to agree publicly that it is hers in order to stop Kromov from suiciding. Zeta asks Danilo to see that Anna does not become involved with anyone other than a Pontevedrian and by the end of Act I Anna has agreed, reluctantly, to dance with Danilo. In the waltz they remember some of the joy of their former love.

Act II

Anna, the following evening, gives a party for the Pontevedrian colony in Paris. Zeta declares that Camille is the danger where Anna is concerned and seeks to find some secret in his past which could be used against him. Njegus suggests there is a secret in his present but will not reveal to Zeta that Valencienne is involved. Zeta gives the fan to Danilo, asking him to find out whose it is, in order to discomfort Camille.

Anna and Danilo have still not reached any compromise. They remain "at war" but both show signs of weakening when they remember their former relationship.

Danilo, using the fan as a bait, discovers affairs between Cascada and St Brioche and married women. They are quick to take their leave when challenged and are eliminated as contenders for Anna's hand. Danilo leaves the fan lying on a garden seat and Anna takes the declaration of love on it to be written by Danilo. Unsatisfied, she resolves to make him avow his love personally, by playing on his jealousy. This she is able to do admirably by a stroke of circumstance. Zeta discovers Camille in the summer house with a woman who is actually Valencienne. Aided by Njegus, Anna takes Valencienne's place and saves her the disgrace of discovery, at the same time driving Danilo into transports of jealousy. Danilo reacts so violently that Anna is certain he still loves her.

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Act III

Later that night the party continues. Danilo forbids Anna to marry Camille but still cannot bring himself to admit his love for her, even when she reveals she was substituting for another woman in the summer house.

Finally, when Valencienne admits she was indeed the woman with Camille, Zeta divorces her on the spot and offers to marry Anna, in order to secure the finances of Pontevedro. She in turn reveals however that her whole fortune is lost should she remarry. Danilo is delighted: the money obstacle removed, he declares his love and he and Anna are reunited. Zeta learns that his wife has insisted to Camille that she is "a highly respectable wife", a fact of which he was unaware and all worry is banished from the little colony as Anna reveals that her fortune now becomes the property of a Pontevedrian, her new husband, Count Danilo.

SCENES AND MUSICAL NUMBERS

Act I

A Salon in the Pontevedrian Embassy in Paris at the turn of the century

'Pontevedro in Paree' - Cascada, Zeta and ensemble
'Melos' (Ballroom Music) 
'A Highly Respectable Wife' - Valencienne and Camille
'So Many Men Admire Me' - Anna and male ensemble 
'Melos' (Ballroom Waltz)
'You'll Find Me at Maxim's' - Danilo and ladies
'It Goes to Show' - Anna and Danilo

Act II

The Garden of Madame Glavaris' Residence, early the following evening

'Vilia' - Anna and chorus 
'Driving in the Park With You' - Anna and Danilo
'Women!' - Danilo, Cascada, St Brioche, Zeta, Kromov, Bogdanovitsch and Pritsch
'Introduction to the Waltz Scene' - Anna and Danilo
'The Waltz Scene' - Anna, Danilo and chorus
'Melos'
'Flow'rs are Awakened in Maytime' - Valencienne and Camille

Act III

The Gardens of A'la Maxim's, later that night

'Opening Dance'
'The Grisette's Song' - Valencienne, Lolo, Dodo, Jou-Jou, Frou-Frou, Margot and chorus
'You'll Find Me at Maxim's' (reprise) - Danilo and the Grisettes
'The Merry Widow Waltz' - Anna and Danilo

CAST

Anna, Madame Glavari: Beryl Sattler, Danilo, Count Danilovitch: Bob Dunn, Baron Zeta, Pontevedrian Ambassador in Paris: Alan McEachern, Valencienne, The Ambassador's Wife: Audrey Heatwole, Camille, Count de Rosillon: John Beckenham, Njegus, Major Domo to Zeta: Bruce Leman, French Diplomats, guests at the Embassy, St Brioche: Arthur Robins and Cascada: Dennes Fayle, Kromov, Pontevedrian Diplomatic Attache: John Leslie, Olga, Madame Kromov: Ruth Collerson, Attaches, Bogdanovitsch: Geoff Burkhardt andPritsch: John McFarlane, Lady Guests at the Embassy: Sylvia: Lou Randall and Praskovia: Rosemary Duff-Forbes, Lolo, Grisettes at Maxim's: Cheryl Tilly, Dodo: Rhonda Handford, Jou-Jou: Yvonne West, Clo-Clo: Caryn Richardson, Margot: Alison Stewart, Frou-Frou: Heather Gibbs

Dancers: Carol Dunkin, Rosemary Duff-Forbes, Frances O'Brien, Shirley Hopper, Deidre Poulton, Jinnie Lovett, Ann Haydon, Brenda Rankin

Chorus: Sopranos: Chris Allman, Betty Brown, Fran Cooper, Els Coventry, May Croaker, Carol Dunkin, Clarice Faint, Laurie Gauntlett, Rhonda Handford, Ann Haydon, Shirley Hopper, Jinnie Lovett, Deidre Poulton, Brenda Rankin, Beryl Richardson, Evelyn Richardson, Cheryl Tilly, Yvonne Tattersall, Contraltos: Gretel Ayre, Sue Cooper, Nerida Curtis, Rosemary Duff-Forbes, Eleanor Galletly, Heather Gibbs, Helan McCully, Frances O'Brien, Caryn Richardson, Alison Stewart, Yvonne West, Tenors: Neil Cooper, Peter Kaberry, John Moran, Keith Roberts, Basses: Peter Metcalfe, Allen Miller, Dennis Orman, Harry Peters, Barry Reece, David Robins

ORCHESTRA

Violin 1: Chris Bettle, Lois Kesteven, Eunice Allingham, Isobel Dupres, Kirsty Mackenzie, Violin 2: Elfi Sturmer, Florence le Brereton, Val Wheaton, Rene Schaefer, Sheila Walker, Susie Got, Violas: Francis Atkinson, John Spark, Hilary Dance, Scilla Woolley, Celli: Arpad Got, Elizabeth Lewis, Flute: Margaret Hawkins, Oboe: Evan Lewis, David Boehm, Clarinets: Jim Hawkins, Leo Atherton, Bassoon: Martin Woolley,Horn: James Ridsdill-Smith, Percussion: Mainie Atherton, Piano: Betty McEachern

PRODUCTION TEAM

Stage Direction: Alan Kerr
Musical Direction: Neville Meale
Rehearsal Pianist: Betty McEachern
Assistant Pianist: Keith Roberts
Stage Manager: Howard Wheaton
Assistant Stage Manager: Peter Hutchinson
Stage Crew: John Watson, Alf Stanton, Geoff Boaler, Stuart Grigg, Brian Coggan, Jim Edwards, Rod Westaway
Scenery Painting: Jan Watt, Jenny Stevens
Lighting: Harry Wadleigh assisted by John Overell, Arthur Lancaster, Bruce Wadleigh
Make-up: Belle Addison assisted by Mickey Shirley, Gloria Cook, Melba Cavanagh, Beth Porter, Win Fayle, Patsy Lindsay
Choreography: Rosalie Fairhall
Costumes: Olive Aubrey assisted by Gwenda Gayford, Ruth Collerson, Audrey Heatwold
Properties: Carmel McRae
Prompt: Jan Watt
Photography: Frank Anderson
Business and House Manager: John Greet
Posters: Grahame Stewart
Programme Cover: Wendy Greet
Publicity: Betty Brown, Carol Duncan
Refreshments: Clare Dawson
Usherettes: Sue Faint, Shirley Faulkner, Zena Hanna, Margaret Marchant, Pam McWatters

THANKS TO

Armidale Newspaper Co, Armidale Teachers' College for rehearsal venue, Armidale Technical College for rehearsal venue, Radio 2AD