Metropolitan Opera 2017-18 Preview: Susan Graham & the Major ‘Merry Widow’ Interpreters of the Met

By David Salazar

On Thursday Dec. 14, 2017, Franz Lehár’s “The Merry Widow” makes a return to the Metropolitan Opera.

To this date, the company has given just 40 performances of the operetta, its first ever coming as recently as Feb. 17, 2000. This season, Susan Graham will take up the mantle of the title role, making her the foremost interpreter of the role of Hanna Glawari at the Met.

But before we dive into Graham’s historic feat, here is a look at the other Hanna Glawaris in Met history.

Frederica Von Stade

“Flicka” as she is often called by close friends was the mezzo to first bring the opera to the legendary house. She sang the role a whopping 16 times with the company, all of them coming during the 2000-01 season; of all the singers on this list, she is the one to sing it most in one single season. Her final performance of the role came on Jan. 18, 2001.

Delores Ziegler

In the midst of Von Stade’s run, Ziegler became the second ever interpreter of the role at the Met. She sang just one performance on Jan. 5, 2001. It was one of 79 total performances for Ziegler at the Met.

Susan Graham

The work would return three years later during the 2003-04 season with Graham as the headliner. She would sing eight performances that season, the final one taking place on Jan. 17, 2004.

In 2015, she would return for yet another run, leading the second cast of a new production between April 24, 2015 and May 7, 2015. When she takes up the mantle this December, she will sing her 13th performance of the role at the Met. By the time she’s done, her total will run up to 21. The final performance of this run will take place on Jan. 11, 2018.

Sally Burgess

As was the case with Ziegler, Burgess got one crack at the role in the midst of Graham’s initial run in 2003-04. Burgess, who sang a total of nine shows at the Met throughout her career, would appear on Dec. 29, 2003.

Renée Fleming

The great American diva would hold the distinction of being the only soprano to take on the leading role and also just one of two singers to headline a new production of the work, after Von Stade. Fleming’s first took on the role on New Year’s Eve in 2014, singing the role 10 times, the last one taking place on Jan. 31, 2015.