THE 1920s saw a new flowering of operetta in Paris and Berlin. Just before and during World War I there had been several French and German works that on one hand attempted to capture the suavity of the Viennese operettas of the period while on the other managed to retain the boisterousness of the popular topical revues so popular in both capitals. The results were not unlike similar works in London and New York, mixing romantic love songs with satirical or just comical couplets. This style persisted throughout the 1920s.
There were also attempts to go back to the formal designs of the nineteenthcentury operetta, modifying the structure and using up-to-the-minute, often American, dance rhythms for new effects, or simply streamlining the form without resorting to new music. There were several quite successful operettas of these types: the Brecht/Weill Die Dreigroschenoper was the most celebrated.
The French have recently been reappraising some of the big hits of the interwar years, like L'Amour masqué, Phi-Phi, and Ta Bouche, with occasionally surprising results. The '20s had an irresistible vitality that wears far better than some of the murkier operettas of the '30s, '40s, and '50s, the opérettes à grand spectacle that were seen at the Mogador and other theatres in Paris and in the provinces.
Charles Cuvillier (1877-1955) was a French composer who obtained his biggest success in London and in Germany. A student of Massenet and Fauré, his early waltzes and other dances attracted the management of the very small Théâtre des Capucines, where his first work was presented, Avant-hier matin (The Morning of the Day Before Yesterday, 20 October 1905). This unusual "cham