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AL HIRSCHFELD. "The Merry Widow." Illustration for the musical comedy at the Majestic Theatre, New York, published in The New York Times, August 15, 1943. Pen and ink on board. 229x610 mm; 9x24 inches on 20x30-inch board. Signed "Hirschfeld " in lower right image, captioned by him along lower margin. Wide margins, with the paper's "Thursday Early Run" stamp to lower recto and penciled printing marks on verso.
Franz Lehár's beloved operetta, with choreography by George Balanchine, opened at the Majestic on August 4th, 1943 and ran for 322 performances, the last on May 6, 1944. In this lively dance scene featuring the main characters Sonia (played by Marta Eggerth) and Prince Danilo (Jan Kiepura), Hirschfeld created a strong visual focus in the sweeping black train of Sonia's dress. It creates a grounding for the dancers, played by Lubov Roudenko, Milada Mladova, and Chris Volkoff, as they dance the Can-Can, Ballet, and the "Merry Widow Waltz," their bodies and costumes depicted in great detail. The husband and wife team Eggerth and Kiepura would perform The Merry Widow over 2,000 times in five languages, more than any other in theater history. Hirschfeld also created the poster for the production.
Exhibited: New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center as part of its special exhibition, "The People's Theater: Celebrating 75 Years of New York City Center,' October 23, 2018 to March 2, 2019.