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The Merry Widow

It's a role once performed by Dame Margot Fonteyn — Hanna, the woman also known as The Merry Widow. For this production of the witty comedy by Houston Ballet, principal dancer Mireille Hassenboehler and former principal dancer Amy Fote share the role. (This is the last time Hassenboehler performs the role before her upcoming retirement later this year; it's the first time Fote appears in the role since her retirement last year.)

Hanna, a wealthy widow in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, is being wooed by Count Danilo. As their courtship starts, Hanna realizes that as a young girl she had been in love with Danilo, who rejected her. Out to get a little romantic payback, Hanna sets out to make him sorry for his past actions.

Fote calls The Merry Widow ''quite a masterpiece,'' and says, ''It's a beautiful ballet with a score that you'll definitely go away humming.'' She praises choreographer Ronald Hynd's creativity and storytelling skills. ''He's very musical, for starters. And especially with the pas de deux, he's very creative. Every scene projects the ballet forward; each movement continues to tell the story.''

John Meehan, who in 1975 originated the role of Danilo, contributed to the staging for this production. Fote says she made sure to learn all her choreography before he arrived. ''I didn't want to waste any time. I didn't want him to have to tell me how to do a step; rather, I wanted him to tell me why it's done that way. For me, that's much more interesting as a dancer.''

7:30 p.m. September 19, 21, 27 and 28, 2 p.m. September 22, 28 and 29. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit $19 to $190.
Thu., Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 2 & 7:30 p.m. Starts: Sept. 19. Continues through Sept. 29, 2013


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