Who Wrote the Libretto for "The Merry Widow"?


Quick Answer

Austrian-Hungarian librettists Viktor Leon and Leo Stein collaborated to write the libretto for the operetta "The Merry Widow," which premiered in Vienna in 1905. Leon and Stein based their operetta on the 1861 French comedy, "L'Attache d'ambassade" by French playwright Henri Meilhac.

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Full Answer

Leon was born on Jan. 4, 1858, in present-day Bratislava and began his career as a journalist before becoming a librettist. As a librettist, he collaborated with composers such as Johann Strauss, Alfred Zamara and Rudolf Raimann. Stein was born on Mar. 25, 1861, in Lemberg, Austria and started his career as a playwright. He later on wrote libretti for composers such as Franz Lehar, Emmerich Kalman and Johann Strauss.

"The Merry Widow" tells the story of a fictitious country's richest citizen, a young widow named Hanna Glawari, and her countrymen's efforts to thwart her foreign suitors so she would end up marrying a local and keeping her wealth inside the country. The operetta continues to be on mainstream consciousness, with occasional revivals and adaptations on stage, television and film. PBS broadcast a performance by the San Diego Opera in 2002.

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