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2013 Festival Season
2013 season

MY FAIR LADY
(1956)
Music by Frederick Loewe
Book and Lyrics Alan Jay Lerner

Its literary source, setting, and original stars were thoroughly British, its composer was born in Germany, its librettist educated in England - and yet My Fair Lady could only have been a creation of Broadway. From its 1956 opening to its close more than six years later as the longest-running musical in Broadway history, the show captured the hearts of theater-goers as no musical before or since. Phonetics professor Henry Higgins accepts a bet from his friend, Colonel Pickering, that he cannot groom a bedraggled Covent Garden flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, and pass her off to his society friends as a lady. When, after months of coaching, "the rain in Spain" falls eloquently off her tongue, the transformation is complete, as Eliza impresses Higgins' socialite friends at Ascot and at the Embassy Ball. But she rails against her mentor for turning her into something that she is not. She returns to Covent Garden, unrecognized by her friends and thoroughly disenchanted. Only now does Higgins realize his true feelings for her. But maybe too late - Freddy Eynsford-Hill has asked for her hand ... Almost every song achieved hit status: "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "With a Little Bit of Luck," "I Could Have Danced All Night," "On the Street Where You Live," "Get Me to the Church on Time," and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face."

Historic sample recording:


OLO Premiere
CALL ME MADAM
(1950)
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse

"Irving Berlin has no place in American music. HE IS AMERICAN MUSIC." This observation, by no less than Jerome Kern, was offered even years before Berlin wrote "Easter Parade," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "White Christmas," and hundreds of other songs that only further solidified his position as America's favorite songwriter. Although he contributed a few hundred songs to Broadway musical revues, he wrote the scores for only seven book musicals, including Annie Get Your Gun and, in 1950, the engaging Call Me Madam, based on episodes in the life of Washington socialite Perle Mesta. In the show, Sally Adams, the "Hostess with the Mostes' on the Ball," has been appointed ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Lichtenburg. Upon her arrival, she becomes entangled with Cosmo Constantine, head of the Conservative Radical party - too proud to accept an American loan to bail out his bankrupt country, but unable to refuse her own offer to save the 300-year-old Lichtenburg fair from cancellation. Sparks fly between Sally and Cosmo - romantic and otherwise. But her interference in the local politics triggers her recall to Washington. Berlin's remarkable score includes "It's a Lovely Day Today," "The Best Thing for You," "The Ocarina," and a Berlin counterpoint specialty: the incomparable duet "You're Just in Love" ("I Hear Singing and There's No One There") - try, if you can, to get this tune out of your head!

Historic sample recording:


DIE FLEDERMAUS
(1874)
Music by Johann Strauss II
Libretto by Richard Genee and Carl Haffner
Translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin

No stage work so magically evokes the elegance and effervescence of life in Vienna as does Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus. Its 1874 premiere ushered in the Golden Age of Viennese Operetta - within a few years, Vienna had supplanted Paris as the operetta capital of the world. Based on German and French farces, the story unfolds as a plot by Dr. Falke to avenge his earlier embarrassment on being dumped in a park, drunk and wearing a bat costume, by the well-to-do Gabriel Eisenstein following a masked ball. Falke invites Eisenstein, his wife Rosalinda, and their chambermaid Adele to a party thrown by the perpetually bored Prince Orlofsky. None of the three knows of the other invitations and, as part of Falke's scheme, each arrives at the party in disguise. Add to the mix an operatic tenor and former suitor of Rosalinda, a determined prison warden, an incompetent lawyer, and a drunken jailer ... and you have the ingredients for operetta at its best. The amusing interplay of the characters is supported by a dizzying array of Strauss tunes: a drinking song by Rosalinda's suitor Alfred, a tribute to champagne, Rosalinda's famous csardas, coloratura flights by Adele, and, of course, the expected array of Strauss waltzes, polkas, and marches.

Historic sample recording:


THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE
or The Slave of Duty
(1879)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by William Gilbert

No Gilbert and Sullivan stage work boasts as many walk-away tunes as their 1879 The Pirates of Penzance, whose official world premiere took place in New York City under the supervision of G&S themselves. Building on the success of the previous year's H.M.S. Pinafore, but trading - as their satirical focus - the rigors of naval discipline for the obligations of duty, G&S manage to burlesque their normal share of popular institutions, including the army, the police, and operatic sopranos. Pirate apprentice Frederic, at age 21, has faithfully served out his indentures and, replete with a sense of duty, joins the police force, determined to exterminate his old mates. He falls in love with Mabel, the first girl he sees, but the daughter of Major-General Stanley, who himself is the target of a pirate revenge plot. Plans go awry when it is revealed that, thanks to a leap-day birth, Frederic is really only five and one-quarter years old. The engaging musical score includes some of the catchiest music in operetta: Mabel's pyrotechnic "Poor Wandering One!;" the tongue-twisting patter song "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General;" "A Policeman's Lot;" "Climbing over Rocky Mountain" - a survivor from Thespis, G&S's lost first stage work; and "With Catlike Tread," which, more than a quarter-century later, was given new words as "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here."

Historic sample recording:


OLO Premiere
OH, LADY! LADY!!
(1918)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by P. G. Wodehouse
Book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse

Between 1915 and 1924, composer Jerome Kern teamed with librettists/lyricists Guy Bolton and famed British author/humorist P. G. Wodehouse on a series of intimate musical comedies - the so-called Princess shows (four of the shows opened at Broadway's 299-seat Princess Theatre). They featured not the exotic locales and the dukes and duchesses of operetta, nor the lavish spectacle of the Ziegfeld Follies, but rather the romantic and comic entanglements of everyday Americans, in current dress and modern dialogue. These shows forever changed the landscape of Broadway; Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and numerous others credited these musicals with inspiring their own development and quest for a theatrical style. Among American songwriters, Kern was the supreme melodist - no more convincingly showcased than in his 1918 Princess musical Oh, Lady! Lady!! The story focuses on wedding plans of Mollie Farrington and Willoughby "Bill" Finch, which are temporarily derailed by the objections of Mollie's mother, the arrival of Bill's old flame May, and the heist of the Farrington family jewels by the ex-girlfriend of Bill's valet Spike. Wodehouse was at his wittiest and most playful, introducing characters named May Ann Ayes, Lettice Romayne, and Cassie Roll. And Kern's score bristles from beginning to end with catchy, sentimental tunes, including the song "Bill," which was eventually dropped from the score, but resurfaced a decade later in Show Boat.

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OLO Premiere
DREAM CITY AND THE MAGIC KNIGHT
(1906)
Music by Victor Herbert
Libretto by Edgar Smith
New Performance Edition by Steven Daigle

"A hit from start to finish," "A new type of popular entertainment," "A lift or two higher than anything of the kind." These words, from the New York Times opening-night review of Victor Herbert's Dream City and The Magic Knight, only begin to capture the ecstatic response of the New York press to one of the most remarkable shows to grace the early-20th-century Broadway stage. Herbert wrote the show, billed as "a dramatic pipe in two puffs," to accommodate the desire of show producer Joe Weber (of Weber and Fields music hall fame) to create a "higher level of entertainment." Farmer Wilhelm Dinglebender of Malaria Center, Long Island is offered a 25-percent stake in a Dream City to be built on Dinglebender's property by fast-talking real estate con artist J. Bilkington Holmes, who promises the farmer that he will soon be richer than John E. Rockefeller. Dinglebender ponders the offer, falls asleep, and dreams that the city has been built. Rich beyond measure, he has been appointed mayor and must, among his responsibilities, attend the opera. So horrible an experience is it that he has Dream City dynamited, only then awakening from his dream. Herbert's score is a revelatory amalgam of diverse musical styles: ragtime, vaudeville, country music, musical comedy, operetta, opera, music hall - unlike anything that Herbert wrote before or after. The composer's spoof of Wagner's Lohengrin during the second-act sequence within the Dream City opera house is absolutely hilarious - "a triumph of musical fooling," as reported by the New York Tribune.

OLO Premiere
THE LITTLE KING
(1912)
Music by Emmerich Kálmán
Libretto by Robert Bodansky, Karl von Bakonyi and Franz Martos
New Performance Edition and Translation by Steven Daigle
Literal English Translation by Alexander Butziger

Hungarian-born composer Emmerich Kálmán has, in recent years, reassumed the position that he held almost a century ago as the world's most performed operetta composer. His shows are perpetual staples in virtually all of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. But no company in the world has championed his works with greater dedication than The Ohio Light Opera. In 2014, continuing its survey of the composer's complete stage works, OLO presents its eleventh Kálmán title - the rarely performed 1912 operetta The Little King (originally Der kleine König). Inspired by the love affair of famed French singer-actress Gaby Deslys and Portugal's King Manuel II, who at age 20 was forced into exile, the plotline concerns a boyish monarch who falls hard for a visiting opera singer, unaware that she is the daughter of a revolutionary plotting his assassination. During her visit to his palace, she has a bomb implanted in a bouquet of roses that she has ordered for the king. Only at the last second, when she can no longer resist his charms, does she discreetly defuse the bomb. Their almost-explosive love affair blossoms ... until he learns of her revolutionary connections, shuns her, and is forced into exile by the Republican uprising. Some time later, on the French coast, surrounded in exile by only his loyal followers, the King welcomes a visitor ... The musical score features Kálmán's ever-captivating blend of Viennese waltzes and haunting Hungarian harmonies and rhythms, as well as the first-ever use of a tango in a Viennese stage work.

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