Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

At 92, Yiddish Operetta Resurrected for Second Act

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

At 92, Yiddish Operetta Resurrected for Second Act

Article excerpt


WHAT: "The Golden Bride," a musical romantic comedy from 1923 about the immigrant experience, performed in Yiddish, with English and Russian subtitles, presented by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.

WHEN: Intermittent dates through Jan. 3. Check website for performance days and times.

WHERE: Museum of Jewish Heritage, Edmond J. Safra Hall, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan, or 866-811-4111.

TICKETS: $40 general public, $30 MJH and NYTF members.

At first, it might sound a little daunting. A rediscovered and restored Yiddish American operetta from the 1920s about the immigrant experience, performed entirely in Yiddish and with subtitles. But when you get right down to it, says "The Golden Bride" musical director Zalmen Mlotek, it's actually just a good old- fashioned Cinderella story.

"The piece is so universal because it's anybody's immigration story. It's a rags-to-riches musical fairy tale -- the dream of having a rich cousin or uncle in America. In this case, it's the heroine (an orphan living in a Russian shtetl) whose father dies and leaves her a great inheritance in America," says Mlotek, of Teaneck, who also serves as artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, which premiered "The Golden Bride" on Dec. 2. The show will continue performances through Jan. 3 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage's Edmond J. Safra Hall in lower Manhattan.

Aside from simply being entertaining, what makes the piece culturally important is its reflection of a certain time in history, he says.

"Not only is the score engaging and eclectic, in terms of early ragtime, to jazz, to operetta, to Gilbert and Sullivan-type music ... but the story really gives us a sense of what the immigrant experience was like at the turn of the century," says Mlotek, who also serves as the orchestra's conductor for the show.

"When you think of the origins of this piece, back in 1923, this is what the immigrant population was coming to see. It doesn't talk about the difficulties. It just talks about the dream of making it, and what the new America could be."

With music by Yiddish composer Joseph Rumshinsky, this popular piece from the 1920s was lost to time following the Second World War, as were many such works of the Golden Age of Second Avenue Theatre in New York City, where it ran for 18 weeks. …

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