Ronald Hynd's intricate and varied choreography for the ensemble – elegant waltzes, folk-inspired dances and cabaret-style flourishes – were almost impeccably danced on opening night. More than that, they were presented with vigour and a sense of fun.
Of course, Desmond Heeley's glamorous costumes and sumptuous sets play an important role, as does John Lanchbery's seamless arrangement of Franz Lehar's opera, given a speedy and spirited performance by the Opera Australia Orchestra, conducted by Paul Murphy.
All these elements provided a platform for the principal dancers to fly. And they did.
Good dancing can be expected from Amber Scott and Adam Bull – Hanna, the merry widow, and Count Danilo – but here they also worked well together theatrically to produce the essential tender moments that give the piece its poignancy. And Bull, who has the most interesting choreography, appeared to relish its challenges.
Leanne Stojmenov has the greatest fun in the character of Valencienne, and she made the most of it, partnered crisply and amusingly by Andrew Killian as her stylish lover.
But Valencienne also has an elderly husband: Colin Peasley, still dancing the Baron in his 80s, brings engaging pathos as well as humour to the role this time around. In this he is helped by Franco Leo's mannered portrayal as his secretary, Njegus.
It's also good to note two recent arrivals on the line-up of named roles – Brett Simon and Brodie James – whose eye-catching appearance in the opening scene was reinforced by their continuing presence leading the particularly strong male ensemble.
Those who know the ballet well may miss the character of some cameo roles, but these could grow as the season progresses.
Overall, the success of this revival owes much to its preparation. The detail that sustains this AB warhorse must be sourced to the repetiteurs who staged it: Mark Kay and Marilyn Rowe, a memorable merry widow herself.