Operetta: A Theatrical History

By Richard Traubner | Go to book overview

THE SAVOY TRADITION

THE RAGE for Offenbach in London can be traced back to the season of his one-act operettas at the St. James's Theatre in 1857, presented by the Bouffes-Parisiens company under the aegis of the composer. A few English-language Offenbach adaptations followed in the early 1860s. In 1865 Orphée aux Enfers played with some success as the endearingly titled Orpheus in the Haymarket. Bluebeard Repaired (Barbe-Bleue) appeared at the Olympic in June 1866 and that same month saw Helen, or Taken from the Greek at the Adelphi Theatre. La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein came over, in English, to the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in November 1867.

Hortense Schneider, who decamped to the St. James's, London, for three summer seasons in a row (1868-70), recreated her famous Paris parts (adding Eurydice) and especially delighted the fashionable audiences who could say they had already seen her as the Grand Duchess during the Paris Exhibition of 1867. Yet many critics and playgoers complained of Mlle. Schneider's suggestive gestures and the extremely risqué situations in these French importations. Some librettists attempted cleaning up some of the double entendres when these words were anglicized, but breeches parts and scanty attire lured other patrons to certain London theatres which were becoming well known for operetta by the 1870s.

In the programme for the British production of Offenbach's La jolie Parfumeuse, called The Pretty Perfumeress at the Alhambra in 1874, translator Henry J. Byron was forced to publish this statement:

The English version of La jolie Parfumeuse is not put forward as an exact translation or even close adaptation of the French libretto. The words of the songs, concerted pieces, choruses, etc., are simply freely rendered in English, but in the treatment of

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Operetta: A Theatrical History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction viii
  • Overture 1
  • Beginners, Please! 19
  • The Emperor of Operetta 55
  • Post-1870 Paris 75
  • Vienna Gold 103
  • The School of Strauss II 133
  • The Savoy Tradition 149
  • The Edwardesian Era 187
  • Fin De Siècle 221
  • The Merry Widow and Her Rivals 243
  • Silver Vienna 275
  • Continental Varieties 303
  • The West End 339
  • American Operetta 357
  • Broadway 377
  • Pasticcio and Zarzuela, Italy and Russia 423
  • Bibliography 434
  • Index 441
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