Work: Die lustige Witwe: Lippen schweigen
About This Work
Franz Lehár worked with librettists Leo Stein and Victor Leon to produce his greatest success, Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow). Naturally this 1905 operetta yielded several popular numbers, including this one, Lippen Schweigen (Lips Stay
Silent). Coming near the end of the operetta, this duet is probably the work's most famous number, having now appeared on countless recordings that have typically featured some of the world's most popular singers, including Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, and Richard Tauber, to name just a few.
The song is written in waltz tempo and is sung by the story's two lovers, Danilo (tenor) and Hanna (soprano). After an intimate introduction from solo strings, Danilo sings the title words to the sweetly tender main theme. It has a serene, mellow character at the outset in its romantic warmth, but then turns passionate as the melody line rises higher. Hanna sings the next verse ("Bei jedem Walzerschritt"), her music comparatively subdued, but meltingly beautiful and demurely playful. The orchestra then takes up the lovely theme in gentle tones, but Danilo and Hanna finish it, heightening the passion heard earlier and milking the music for all its beauty and sense of youthful ecstasy. This duet finds Lehár at his most charming and imaginative, even if it divulges strains of the waltz king, Johann Strauss II.
-- Robert Cummings
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