Every year, the Warsaw Philharmonic invites listeners to spend New Year’s Eve in the company of music. This year, the orchestra led by Łukasz Borowicz, alongside outstanding soloists, will be performing in full one of the most celebrated operettas in the history of the genre. Ferenc Lehar’s The Merry Widow was first staged in Vienna towards the end of 1905. The history of the work’s composition is so colourful and dramatic that it could be used as the plot for another operetta. The name of the composer – whose music contributed to the extraordinary success of The Merry Widow, performed in its original production almost 500 times – ultimately eclipsed the names of the librettists and the initiators of the project. Lehar was the second composer asked to write the music for this operetta, and towards the end of his work, he was on the point of being dismissed. Until the very last minute, doubts remained as to whether the work would prove a success; the budget and number of rehearsals were reduced to a minimum, and the costs of preparing the costumes and sets were covered partly by the performers themselves. In addition, there was a whiff of diplomatic scandal in the air, and the librettists decided to cover up the source of their not entirely original – as it turned out – idea.
* Opera Academy at Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera in Warsaw