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The Merry Widow

The Delightful Romantic Comedy The Merry Widow Returns
September 19-29

From September 19-29, 2013, Houston Ballet presents Ronald Hynd's comic and enchanting The Merry Widow. Adapted from Franz Lehár's beloved operetta, the internationally-admired British choreographer Ronald Hynd adds a new layer of lavish spectacle and choreography to the original story of The Merry Widow to create an irresistibly charming and intoxicating tale of high jinks, finance, romance, and intrigue. The production features magnificent scenery and costumes by Italian designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno.

The Merry Widow premiered by The Australian Ballet to outstanding success on November 13, 1975 at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne and immediately established itself as a classic of the twentieth century full-length ballet repertoire. Like the operetta which debuted in 1905, the ballet has proven to be very popular and has been adopted into the repertoires of many companies. Houston Ballet first performed Mr. Hynd's The Merry Widow in 1995.

"Mr. Hynd's choreography and concepts rise to another and brilliant level," writes Anna Kisselgoff for The New York Times. The New York Post's Clive Barnes describes The Merry Widow as "A lovely ballet, magically blending nostalgic charm with a seamless swirl of choreography."

Set in Paris in 1905, The Merry Widow is the story of the fictitious Balkan state of Pontevedro and a beautiful and rich widow, Hanna Glawari. With the threat of losing Hanna and her fortune to a foreigner, the nation's dashing Count Danilo reluctantly prepares to woo and win her – and her fortune – thus securing the country's economic status. At the embassy ball in Paris, however, the plan is thwarted as Danilo and Hanna realize they were once young lovers. Fueled by the possibility of rekindled love, the ballet deftly intertwines the plot's political and economic intrigue with the characters' devious and comical undertakings.

Mr. Hynd has a long and rich history spanning three decades with Houston Ballet, having created such full length works as Papillon (1979) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1988) for the company. Born in London, England, Mr. Hynd trained with Marie Rambert and later made his performing debut with Ballet Rambert. In 1951, Mr. Hynd joined the Sadler's Wells Ballet (now Royal Ballet) where he rose to the rank of principal dancer performing an extensive range of classical and dramatic roles. His first ballet, The Fairy's Kiss, was choreographed in 1967 for the Dutch National Ballet and was later taken into the repertoire of London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet). Between two directorships of the Munich Ballet, Mr. Hynd has enjoyed an international career and created many works. Many of his productions have entered the repertoires of such companies as Houston Ballet, The Royal Ballet, PACT Ballet (South Africa), Santiago Ballet of Chile and many other European and American companies to great critical acclaim.

Houston Ballet has seven works in its repertory choreographed by Ronald Hynd: The Merry Widow (created in 1975, performed by Houston Ballet in 1995, 1999, 2007), Papillon (which was created for Houston Ballet in 1979, also performed 1980, 1981, 1984), Dvořák Variations (created in 1980, performed by Houston Ballet in 1980 and 1982), The Seasons (created for Houston Ballet in 1980), Rosalinda (created in 1978, performed by Houston Ballet in 1987, 1988), The Firebird choreographed with Annett Page after Michel Fokine (created for Houston Ballet in 1981) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which was created for Houston Ballet in 1988).

Born in Rome, Roberta Guidi di Bagno enjoys an international reputation as a set and costume designer. She created scenery and costumes for John Cranko's Onegin for Teatro all Scala, and her designs were later taken into the repertoires of Deutsche Oper Barlin, Teatro Colòn Buenos Aires and Opéra de Nice. For English National Ballet, she created designs for two new productions by Derek Deane: Romeo and Juliet (1998) and The Sleeping Beauty (2000) both performed at The Royal Albert Hall in London. In 2000, she also created new sets and costumes for Mr. Hynd's productions of The Nutcracker for Teatro alla Scala and Coppélia for Deutsche Oper Berlin.  In 1996, Ms. Guidi di Bagno was commissioned to create new sets and costumes for Mr. Hynd's The Merry Widow for Teatro alla Scala, which was restaged in Seattle by the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Mr. Welch has collaborated with Robert Guidi di Bagno on two of his productions: Ønsket ("The Wish") (1998) and Ander ("The Ghost")(1999) for Royal Danish Ballet.