I’ve been worried about telling you about Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow because it takes place at the Pontevedrian Embassy and, having never been to Pontevedro, I didn’t know how to pronounce it. Imagine my delight at discovering that it’s a fictitious Balkan state – so I can’t possibly pronounce it wrong. I don’t remember where I read that, but it was on the internet so it must be true. Pronounce it however you wish. You have my blessings.
Anyway. There’s a party at the Pontevedrian Embassy, in Paris. Baron Zeta doesn’t notice his wife flirting with the attache because he’s in a dither about Hanna who may or may not marry a Parisian because Parisians are cute and she is a widow. A merry one.
Zeta doesn’t like the idea because if she marries a Parisian her wealth will leave Pontevedro – bankrupting the country. Her husband, the dead one, not the potential one, left her a pile of dough. Enough to run a small country, apparently.
Zeta’s wife, Valencienne, continues flirting.
Count Danilo Danilovich arrives after staying out at Maxim’s for several nights running so he falls asleep in the pile of coats in the guestroom. Hannah finds him and wakes him up. It turns out they had a thing for each other in their youth, but Danilo’s aristocratic family shut them down. Now Danilo refuses to tell Hannah he loves her because everyone who claims to love her is really just in love with her money and he’s not so into that
Oh he is so cute I can’t stand it
Zeta tells Danilo he has to marry Hannah, for the good of his country. They dance, but not together.
The next evening everyone goes to Hannah’s house for a party. That’s what I love about operas. It’s always party, party, party. This is where things get sticky. Zeta and Danilo go off to the summerhouse to watch football, not realizing that Zeta’s wife, Valencienne is in there with her attache, hopefully not attacheed. Zeta’s aide, rescues Valencienne out the back door. Zeta’s pretty sure he saw his wife in there and is quite surprised to find Hannah in the summerhouse with Camille (the attache) which makes it look to Danilo as though she’s the one having the fling with Camille. She’s a stinker, that merry widow. Danilo stomps off to Maxim’s.
In order to make him feel more at home, Hannah transforms her parlor into a replica of Maxim’s – dancing girls and all. Danilo realizes Hannah never meant to marry Camille and admits he loves her. Zeta realizes his wife has been carrying on with Camille and demands a divorce, saying he’ll marry Hannah instead. Valencienne gets out of her pickle by showing her husband the note on her fan that says she totally didn’t just cheat on him.
And then everyone runs around in circles and the people who are in chairs when the music stops get to marry each other.