Merry Widow

June 19 – 23, 2019

Merry Widow

June 19 – 23, 2019

About the Ballet

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A frothy blend of whimsical comedy, romance and the delights of the Parisian Belle Époque in all its effervescent splendor, The Merry Widow is popular ballet at its finest. Based on the 1905 operetta of the same name by Franz Lehár, The Merry Widow sets out to entertain and amuse at every step and never puts a foot wrong.

The story imagines a fictional Balkan principality, Pontevedro, which is on the brink of economic disaster. In an effort to prevent certain ruin, a charming but raffish Pontevedrian aristocrat, Count Danilo, is persuaded to woo and marry a rich and sophisticated widow, Hanna Glawari, before she can marry a foreigner. Amid the inevitable plot complications and madcap misunderstandings, we learn that Danilo and Hanna had been childhood sweethearts, before Danilo abandoned Hanna, who was then an innocent peasant girl.

Playful and insouciant, comically buoyant and a perennial crowd-pleaser, The Merry Widow was premiered by The Australian Ballet in 1975 and entered the repertoire of The National Ballet of Canada in 1986.

"The Merry Widow is a ballet to lose yourself in. Full of glamour, passion and romance, this is a ballet that sweeps you away to another time and place." The Buffalo News
The performances of The Merry Widow mark the retirement of Principal Dancer Xiao Nan Yu, one of the company’s most luminous and acclaimed artists. Ms. Yu says farewell after 22 glorious years with The National Ballet of Canada and will perform the lead role of Hanna Glawari on Wednesday, June 19 and Saturday, June 22 at 7:30 pm. The company will honour Ms. Yu at the Saturday evening performance.

Full casting will be announced shortly. All casting is subject to change.

The Merry Widow View Gallery

Further Reading



A Conversation with Xiao Nan Yu

Xiao Nan Yu Retires with The Merry Widow


"As sensuous and finely balanced as an art nouveau vase.... with graceful adherence to the formula of story ballet, careful structure, stylish sets and costumes... and a slick orchestral reworking of the Franz Lehár score." — The Globe and Mail

 “The Merry Widow has dozens of moments of pure delight… Unlike too much champagne, there is one indulgence that won’t leave you with any regrets the morning after.”  — The Ottawa Citizen

 “The National Ballet of Canada’s The Merry Widow is classic ballet at its best… Ronald Hynd’s choreography is witty, the performance is polished…leaves one feeling that the more than two hours simply go by too fast.” — The Ottawa Citizen

Running Time

  • Act I 37m
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act II 29m
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act III 24m
  • Total (approx) 2h 10m


Hanna Glawari              
Xiao Nan Yu (June 19, 22 at 7:30 pm)
Heather Ogden (June 20, 22 at 2:00 pm)
Sonia Rodriguez* (June 20 at 7:30 pm)
Greta Hodgkinson (June 21 at 7:30 pm/June 23 at 2:00 pm)

Count Danilo Danilowitch            
Guillaume Côté (June 19, 22 at 7:30 pm)
Harrison James* (June 20, 22 at 2:00 pm)
Piotr Stanczyk* (June 20 at 7:30 pm)
Evan McKie* (June 21 at 7:30 pm/June 23 at 2:00 pm)

Jillian Vanstone (June 19, 22 at 7:30 pm)
Miyoko Koyasu* (June 20, 22 at 2:00 pm)
Tina Pereira* (June 20 at 7:30 pm)
Chelsy Meiss* (June 21 at 7:30 pm/June 23 at 2:00 pm)

Camille de Rosillon
Naoya Ebe* (June 19, 22 at 7:30 pm)
Jack Bertinshaw* (June 20, 22 at 2:00 pm)
Skylar Campbell* (June 20 at 7:30 pm)
Félix Paquet* (June 21 at 7:30 pm/June 23 at 2:00 pm)

* Debut        

All casting subject to change.


Franz Lehár

Produced by kind permission of The Australian Ballet

Original book and lyrics by Victor Leon and Leo Stein

Ronald Hynd

Staged by:
John Meehan & Steven Woodgate

Sir Robert Helpmann

Musical Adaptation:
John Lanchbery

Set and Costume Design:
Desmond Heeley

Lighting Design:
Michael J. Whitfield

The Merry Widow entered the repertoire through the generosity of The Volunteer Committee, The National Ballet of Canada, joined by the Rotary Club of Toronto.

Running Time

  • Act I 37m
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act II 29m
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act III 24m
  • Total (approx) 2h 10m

Ballet Talks

The National Ballet invites you to attend the Ballet Talk 45 minutes before every show in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

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