Houston Ballet to Present Ronald Hynd's THE MERRY WIDOW, 9/19-29
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 company will give seven performances at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston. Tickets start at $19, and may be purchased at www.houstonballet.org or by calling 713 227 ARTS (2787).
The Merry Widow was 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, including American Ballet Theatre, the National Ballet of Canada, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Teatro alla Scala in Milan. 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.
With its combination of sensuality, charisma and female empowerment, the title role of Hanna Glawari has proven to be a spectacular vehicle for a number of celebrated female dancers, including Australian ballerinas Marilyn Rowe and Marilyn Jones, Dame Margot Fonteyn, the National Ballet of Canada's Karen Kain, Bolshoi ballerina Nina Ananiashvili, and Houston Ballet Principal Dancer Janie Parker, who performed the title role when the company danced The Merry Widow for the first time in 1995. In September 2013, beloved principal dancer Mireille Hassenboehler will appear as Hanna, a role she first performed in 2007. Additionally, former principal dancer Amy Fote, who retired from the stage in December 2012, will return to dance the title role at select performances.
On returning to the lead role of Hanna for the final performances of her 21-year career with Houston Ballet, acclaimed principal dancer Mireille Hassenboehler mused, "What better way to go than with a waltz and a champagne glass in hand?"
Houston Ballet will pay tribute to Ms. Hassenboehler at its 2013 Jubilee of Dance on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm.
A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Houston Ballet Academy, Ms. Hassenboehler joined Houston Ballet in 1992, and was promoted to the rank of principal dancer in 2000. In a long and memorable career, she has created the leading female roles of Sluefoot Sue in Stanton Welch's Pecosin 2004 and Odette/Odile in Stanton Welch's staging of Swan Lake in 2006. She has danced the leading female roles in all the great classical ballets, making a particularly strong impression with her dramatic gifts in the title role of Giselle in 2005. That same year, readers of Houston Pressselected her as "Best Ballet Dancer." She has also excelled at more contemporary works such as William Forsythe's In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. Reviewing her performance in this work, Houston Chronicle dance critic Molly Glentzer observed, "Mireille Hassenboehler attacked the featured role, originally created for the rubber-jointed French star Sylvie Guillem, with super-charged aplomb. She and Phillip Broomhead plugged into an amazing energy force in a pas de deux that brought the piece to an electrifying climax." But Ms. Hassenboehler's most rewarding role is mother to her young son Teddy, born in 2011, and she has successfully managed to balance the demands of being both a full-time ballet dancer and mother of a young child.