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'The Merry Widow' Live in HD tomorrow

Published:Friday | January 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Merry Widow plays Live in HD at Carib 5 tomorrow at 12:55 p.m. Renée Fleming stars as the beguiling femme fatale, Hanna Glawari, who captivates all Paris.

Lehar's enchanting operetta is seen in a new staging by Broadway virtuoso director and choreographer Susan Stroman (The Producers, Oklahoma!, Contact). Stroman and her design team of Julian Crouch (Satyagraha, The Enchanted Island) and costume designer William Ivey Long (Cinderella, Grey Gardens, Hairspray) have created an art-nouveau setting that climaxes with singing and dancing grisettes at the legendary Maxim's.

Nathan Gunn co-stars as Danilo and Broadway's Kelli O'Hara is Valencienne. Andrew Davis conducts.

When The Merry Widow had its world premiere in 1905, it launched a new era of richer, more complex and dramatic operetta. Why does it remain so popular today?

Renée Fleming (RF): The most obvious answer, of course, is Lehar's score, which is just packed with unforgettable melodies. The Merry Widow Waltz is known and loved all over the world. But most people don't realise until they see the whole operetta how many fun, famous tunes come from this piece.

Also, who doesn't want to be transported back to that glamorous, Belle Epoque milieu, with Paris, Maxim's, grisettes, the cancan? It really is everything an operetta should be.

Susan Stroman: The score is just fabulous - these glorious melodies that stick with you. But I also think it's that the characters are so rich. They have a love for their country, the so-called Pontevedro, which is relying on the wealthy Hanna to keep them afloat.

And it's a romance with grown-ups, which separates it from a lot of what's out there today. I think people find it refreshing that it's a romance between two seasoned individuals. And the role of Hanna is almost a contemporary woman.

RF: It's true. The role really appeals to me because of the strength of the character. Imagine, the financial health of a nation - okay, a tiny principality - depends upon her and her fortune. She's in this position of real power and she has a significant amount of pride, and she follows her heart.

Tickets are on sale for the 2014-2015 season at participating cinema box offices and via the web at, with a Palace Card.