a merry time

High-society scheming and romance mark Houston Ballet's Merry Widow

High-society scheming and romance mark Houston Ballet's Merry Widow

Houston Ballet: The Merry Widow
Former Principal Mireille Hassenboehler as Hanna and First Soloist Linnar Looris as Danilo in Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow, 2013. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Houston Ballet: The Merry Widow
Artists of Houston Ballet in Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow, 2013. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Housto Ballet, The Merry Widow: Mireille Hassenboehler, Linnar Looris
Former Principal Mireille Hassenboehler as Hanna and First Soloist Linnar Looris as Danilo in Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow, 2013. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Houston Ballet: The Merry Widow
Houston Ballet: The Merry Widow
Housto Ballet, The Merry Widow: Mireille Hassenboehler, Linnar Looris

The Houston Ballet gifts dance lovers with a very merry spring as they revive acclaimed choreographer Ronald Hynd’s joyous, romantic ballet, The Merry Widow. Based on the famous 1905 operetta by Franz Lehár, this story ballet tells a comic tale of high society hijinks, romance, and scheming match-making that makes for glorious dance.

A gaggle of royals attempt to save their bankrupt duchy Pontevedro by reuniting a wealthy widow with the duke she once loved when she was a lowly peasant. For added romantic comedy, throw in a love triangle involving a baron, his wife, and the French Attaché, a fabulous ball, political intrigue, lovelorn miscommunication, and everyone behaving badly for love and fortune.

Hynd creates the lightest of romantic atmospheres by portraying this story through waltzes, cancans, and classical ballet. One of seven works by Hynd in Houston Ballet’s repertoire, the Merry Widow was first performed by the company in 1995 and last performed to standing ovations in 2013, when principal Mireille Hassenboehler took her final bows with Houston Ballet.

In this latest staging, look for sumptuous costumes and exquisite sets fit for a king — or at least a grand duke — from acclaimed designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno, who previously created designs for Stanton Welch’s Giselle and Romeo and Juliet.

The Merry Widow is the second to the last production of the 2018-2019 season of classic favorites and innovative premiere ballets that also saw the company’s triumphant return to the Wortham Center. The Houston Ballet closes the season in June with another royal story, one that doesn’t end quite so happily, Stanton Welch’s beautiful portrait of Marie Antoinette, Marie. But before then ballet lovers can watch comic love make merry in grand style.

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The Merry Widow waltzes into the Wortham Theater Center May 31-June 9. For tickets and showtimes, visit the Houston Ballet.