Operetta: A Theatrical History
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This entertaining and thorough examination of operetta remains the only complete, richly-illustrated history available of a delightful form of musical theater which has enraptured audiences around the world for over a century. Coming at a time of renewed enthusiasm for operetta, Richard Traubner's timely volume shakes the dust off many exciting pieces, while documenting the creation of the masterworks of the form, including Orphée aux Enfers, Die Fledermaus, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Merry Widow, The Desert Song, and White Horse Inn. It covers the careers of the major operetta composers and librettists--including Offenbach, Hervé, Strauss, Gilbert and Sullivan, Lehár, Coward, and Lerner and Loewe--the original productions of their works, the principal foreign versions, the famous revivals, and related aspects of public and critical reaction, as well as providing a chronicle of operetta's greatest theaters and most popular stars.
best score to date, a contention easily accepted by many today. Certainly, the second act is superb, probably by itself one of the best things the partners ever did, with its string of intoxicating and hauntingly melodious numbers: the women’s-university students’ lovely paean to Princess Ida, followed by her entrance plea to Minerva, “O, Goddess Wise”; the hilarious extended scene during which Prince Hilarion and his two cronies climb over the walls, illegally entering the off-limits-to-men
(later Edward VII) was a regular supporter of French opérabouffe, both in Paris and in London. After the first act of a performance of Chilpéric in London, he asked Hervé if he might give an encore of the Ham Song, which was sung in the first act on horseback. As if to add to the merry zaniness of the story, Hervé obliged by riding into the Act II bedroom set on a horse, singing the royal command encore. A revival of Chilpéric at the Théâtre des Variétés in 1895 inspired Toulouse-Lautrec’s
given to the New York version with Novotna planned by Reinhardt before his death in 1943. Meanwhile, back at the Bouffes, a new piece was needed, so Les Bergers (The Shepherds), a decorative three-act opéra-comique was furnished. The first act was set in antiquity, the second was a Watteau pastorale (“J’ai nagé en plein Watteau”—loosely, “I’ve been wallowing in Watteau”—Offenbach was reported to have said), and the third a Courbet landscape. Audiences on 11 December 1865 did not take kindly to
popularizing these works. This appeared with the first English production of La Périchole at the Royalty Theatre in 1875. The part of the Viceroy (far left) was taken by Fred Sullivan, The emperor of operetta 57 whose brother Arthur supplied the music for an afterpiece later added to the bill: Trial by Jury. Joan Sutherland as La Périchole in a 1973 television series designed to get people interested in opera. The soprano, like many other great opera stars of past and present, loves operetta
revivals of Chabrier and Messager works have been seen and recorded in Lyon. But Paris does not support, as London does, a company regularly doing operetta classics—and the loss of the Opera Comique as a second opera house only aggravates this problem. With Cats finally opening in Paris in 1989, one wonders what future Parisian tastes will be. It is once again my hope that this book will prompt impresarios to look retrospectively and mount new productions of the many delightful operettas that are