Episode 51. Legitimate Broadway (Crossover Classics VII)

Episode 51. Legitimate Broadway



Patricia Neway

Today’s topic is operetta and opera on Broadway. From the early days of the Great White Way, a large amount of the musical theatre repertoire was actually operetta. I begin with a discussion of the composers of such operettas (Victor Herbert, Rudolf Friml, and Sigmund Romberg, with a significant nod to Jerome Kern as well) and the singers who appeared in those works. Then I present an array of works adapted from the classical repertoire (primarily Wright and Forrest’s Song of Norway and Kismet), followed by examples of that curious hybrid, Broadway opera, including Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium and The Consul; Marc Blitzstein’s Regina; Frank Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella; Kurt Weill and Langston Hughes’s Street Scene; and Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. A wide range of singers is included, some celebrated (Lotte Lenya, Patricia Neway, Barbara Cook, Marta Eggerth, Lawrence Tibbett), some less so (Helena Scott, Lee Venora, Fritzi Scheff, Robert Rounseville), the careers of some of whom stretch back to the beginning of the century, but all singers which straddled the fence between musicals, operetta, and opera. But rest assured: this is no dry history lesson: it’s a fast-paced romp through a fun and fascinating topic!


Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson: September Song (Knickerbocker Holiday). Lotte Lenya; Milton Rosenstock

Victor Herbert, Henry Blossom: Kiss Me Again (Mlle. Modiste). Fritzi Scheff

Noël Coward: I’ll See You Again (Bitter-Sweet). Jan Kiepura, Marta Eggerth

Noël Coward: Dear Little Cafe (Bitter-Sweet). Peggy Wood, George Metaxa

Franz Lehár, Forman Brown (English lyrics): Who Knows the Way to My Heart (The Merry Widow). Patrice Munsel, Franz Allers

Jacques Offenbach, Herbert Baker: Love at Last (Helen Goes to Troy). Jarmila Novotna

Jacques Offenbach, Yip Harburg: Five Minutes of Spring (The Happiest Girl in the World). Bruce Yarnell; Robert De Cormier

Sigmund Romberg (adapted from Franz Schubert), Dorothy Donnelly: Song of Love (Blossom Time). Eleanor Steber, Walter Cassel

Rudolf Friml, J. Keirn Brennan: Luana (Luana). Tandy MacKenzie

Rudolf Friml: Song of the Vagabonds (The Vagabond King). Dennis King; Victor Light Opera Company

Bruno Huhn, William Ernest Henley: Invictus. John Brownlee

Sigmund Romberg, Oscar Hammerstein II: Lover, Come Back to Me (The New Moon). Claramae Turner; Sylvan Levin

Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II: The Song Is You (Music in the Air). Lawrence Tibbett

Stephen Sondheim: One More Kiss (Follies). Licia Albanese, Erie Mills; Paul Gemignani, New York Philharmonic

Sigmund Romberg, Leo Robin: You’ve Got to Be a Little Crazy (The Girl in Pink Tights). Brenda Lewis, Lydia Fredericks, Kalem Kermoyan, John Stanford, Sylvan Levin; Don Walker

Helena Bliss and Lawrence Brooks in Song of Norway

George Forrest, Robert Wright after Edvard Grieg: I Love You (Song of Norway). Helena Bliss; Arthur Kay

George Forrest, Robert Wright after Edvard Grieg: Strange Music (Song of Norway). Helena Scott, John Reardon; Lehman Engel

Alfred Drake and Anne Jeffreys in the Music Theater of Lincoln Center revival of Kismet, 1965

George Forrest, Robert Wright after Alexander Borodin: Not Since Nineveh (Kismet). Anne Jeffreys; Franz Allers

George Forrest, Robert Wright after Alexander Borodin: And This Is My Beloved (Kismet). Lee Venora, Alfred Drake, Richard Banke, Henry Calvin; Franz Allers

Rebecca Luker

Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II: All the Things You Are (Very Warm for May). Rebecca Luker, George Dvorsky, Jeanne Lehman, Cris Groenendaal, John McGlinn, London Sinfonietta, Ambrosian Chorus

Gian Carlo Menotti: Afraid? Am I afraid? (The Medium); Marie Powers; Emanuel Balaban

Gian Carlo Menotti: To this we’ve come (The Consul). Patricia Neway; Herbert Menges

Frank Loesser: Mamma, mamma (The Most Happy Fella). Robert Weede

Frank Loesser: Rosabella (The Most Happy Fella). Inia Te Wiata; Kenneth Alwyn

Robert Weede and Jo Sullivan in The Most Happy Fella

Frank Loesser: My Heart Is So Full of You (The Most Happy Fella). Robert Weede, Jo Sullivan [Loesser]; Herbert Greene

Brenda Lewis and Marc Blitzstein

Marc Blitzstein: The Best Thing of All (Regina). Brenda Lewis; Samuel Krachmalnick, New York City Opera Orchestra

Marc Blitzstein: Night could be time to sleep (Regina). Carol Brice; Samuel Krachmalnick; New York City Opera Orchestra

Kurt Weill, Langston Hughes: Somehow I Never Could Believe (Street Scene). Polyna Stoska; Isler Solomon

Brian Sullivan and Anne Jeffreys in Street Scene, 1947

Kurt Weill, Langston Hughes: Lonely House (Street Scene). Brian Sullivan; Maurice Abravanel

Kurt Weill, Langston Hughes: I Loved Her Too (Street Scene). Norman Cordon, Anne Jeffreys; Maurice Abravanel

Leonard Bernstein, Richard Wilbur: It Must Be So (Candide). Robert Rounseville; Samuel Krachmalnick

Leonard Bernstein, Richard Wilbur: I Am Easily Assimilated (Candide). Irra Petina, Barbara Cook, Thomas Pyle, George Blackwell; Samuel Krachmalnick

Robert Rounseville and Barbara Cook in Candide, 1956

Leonard Bernstein, Richard Wilbur: Make Our Garden Grow (Candide). Robert Rounseville, Barbara Cook, Entire Company; Samuel Krachmalnick

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