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Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?

Related thread:
'The Desert Song' retelling (36)


GUEST,Mollie 01 Dec 12 - 05:47 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 25 Jul 12 - 06:47 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 25 Jul 12 - 06:26 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 25 Jul 12 - 04:48 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 24 Jul 12 - 08:55 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 24 Jul 12 - 08:52 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Jul 12 - 07:46 PM
Don Firth 23 Jul 12 - 04:35 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Jul 12 - 07:08 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 12 - 07:10 PM
Stringsinger 22 Jul 12 - 10:45 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 21 Jul 12 - 09:08 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 21 Jul 12 - 06:19 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 21 Jul 12 - 05:58 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 16 Jul 12 - 05:55 AM
Penny S. 16 Jul 12 - 03:47 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 16 Jul 12 - 03:03 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 16 Jul 12 - 03:02 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 16 Jul 12 - 02:39 AM
Stilly River Sage 16 Jul 12 - 12:33 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 15 Jul 12 - 11:05 PM
GUEST,Guest,,USA 15 Jul 12 - 09:00 PM
Fred Maslan 15 Jul 12 - 02:42 PM
Fred Maslan 15 Jul 12 - 02:39 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 15 Jul 12 - 08:58 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 15 Jul 12 - 08:52 AM
GUEST 15 Jul 12 - 08:47 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 15 Jul 12 - 08:43 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 15 Jul 12 - 08:31 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 11 Jun 12 - 09:31 PM
JJ 11 Jun 12 - 08:52 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 10 Jun 12 - 09:26 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 10 Jun 12 - 09:24 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 30 May 12 - 06:50 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 30 May 12 - 06:41 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 30 May 12 - 06:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 May 12 - 12:44 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 30 May 12 - 08:16 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 25 May 12 - 09:11 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 25 May 12 - 08:50 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 May 12 - 09:14 PM
GUEST,999 23 May 12 - 08:50 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 May 12 - 07:09 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 May 12 - 08:22 AM
JJ 23 May 12 - 08:20 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 May 12 - 04:31 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 May 12 - 08:57 PM
JJ 22 May 12 - 08:39 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 May 12 - 12:55 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 21 May 12 - 10:35 PM
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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: GUEST,Mollie
Date: 01 Dec 12 - 05:47 PM

I love the music from this operetta and have seen the stage version twice. I'm always looking for this stage musical, or for a showing of New Moon (also with Gordon MacRae and Dorothy Kirsten in film) and would travel to see them somewhere. If anyone knows where they might be playing, please give a shout.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 06:47 PM

IMO an interesting concept would be a production where the colonial issues are more prominent- you could probably do that without sacrificing the entertainment element.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 06:26 PM

And another interesting element is the fact that the Arab roles are all played by Europeans in burnt cork.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 04:48 AM

Just about the only thing TDS doesn't have is the snake charmer song.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Jul 12 - 08:55 AM

*them* should be *it*.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Jul 12 - 08:52 AM

*Side note. Have spent the last few minutes Googling. Harem scenes were very common from the 1890s onwards in the U.S. Many famous composers (Irving Berlin included) wrote songs with Middle Eastern themes. IMO the fact that The Desert Song continues the tradition of "stories sent in "exotic countries, with stereotyped bits of their culture", and even has the obligatory harem scene is quite interesting in how some stereotypes and implications are so common that even people who grew up with them and like them don't notice them. (The librarian at my school certainly didn't, but my history teacher does.) And it's much more obvious to me, since I'm working on a fantasy novel which riffs on it.

(Ha ha ha. Riffs.. Desert Song.)


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 07:46 PM

@DonFirth: Yeah, I'm not disputing that it's intended to be light entertainment,
but look at this link- TV Tropes: I'm a contributor to that site (the Naughty Marietta and The Desert Song Works pages were written up by yours truly) Unfortunate Implications aren't always intended by the creators, and people won't always see the same implications in the same work as other people do.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 04:35 PM

I think there are a couple of obvious points that are being missed here. First, expecting to find anything in an operetta that resembles reality. These tend to be fairly light love stories which serve as a frame for the music. They're entertainment, not intended to reflect real life or make deep philosophical statements.

Secondly, the leads, both male and female, need to be people that the audience members can identify with. And since the vast majority of them were written and presented in the United States, it is not surprising that the male lead is generally white, of European ancestry, as is the female lead.

No diabolical messages or intended propaganda or racial put-downs there.

One exception to the usual pattern that springs to mind is George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," in which the entire cast is Black. Incidentally, initial identification of this work was that that it, too, was an operetta. But recently, the cognoscenti has proclaimed that "Porgy and Bess" is a full-fledged opera, right up there with the works of Mozart, Verdi, and Puccini.

A serious work as contrasted with "light entertainment."

Side note about George Gershwin:   like many people of an artistic bent, Gershwin was more concerned with his deficiencies than he was with his strengths. In order to buttress up what he considered to be his weaknesses as a composer, he went to France to study music theory, composition, and orchestration with Maurice Ravel. Ravel spent some time studying Gershwin's work, then told him, "There is really little that I can teach you. There is nothing at all wrong with your work as it is. The best I could do is to turn you into second-rate Ravel. But you are already first-rate Gershwin! Keep doing what you are doing!"

Within recent years, Gershwin's work is gradually being accepted as right up there with the world's other major composers.

Don Firth

P. S. Side note about Maurice Ravel:   Many people go nutty about one of Ravel's best known works, "Bolero." Used in the movie "10," the claim is that the compulsive beat that repeats and repeats (and repeats and repeats and repeats. . . . ) makes the piece "extremely sexy." The story is that Ravel wrote the piece as an exercise in orchestration. Repeat the same rhythm and theme over and over and over again until it drives the audience mad with sheer boredom. But try to alleviate that boredom and keep it interesting by constantly altering the orchestration—change the instruments each time they play the unchanging theme. If he could work out an orchestration, or series of orchestrations interesting enough so that the constant, incessant repetition didn't drive him to scream and hurl himself out a window, then he'd try it on an audience as an experiment to see how they responded, then retire it.

He was absolutely flabbergasted that the response to what he considered "a study in boredom" was wild cheering and enthusiastic applause.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 07:08 AM

Although I love If One Flower Grows Alone In Your Garden* for some reason. (For some reason I'm only able to sing the male songs in this operetta, except for The Song of The Brass Key.

*Funny thing about that song- it uses flowery (ha ha ha) language to talk about why polygamy (portrayed as a "primitive" thing) is good yet the character who sings it isn't the one who's polygamous - that would be Ali Ben Ali, who sings "Let Love Go."

And also, before Kathryn Grayson in 1953, the song was sung by Carlotta King in a radio concert setting, and was what led to her casting as Margot in the 1929 movie.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 07:10 PM

@Stringsinger: Hilarious! (Another note: the whole sequence of "Eastern and Western Love" implies that polygamy is the way for "Easteners" and is inferior. In the story I'm working on now that is sort-of-based on this, our Red Shadow is the son of a Riff chieftain and has two stepmothers, because his mother died in childbirth and his father wants to make more alliances for his anti-colonial crusade.)

And actually in ''The Rose of Algeria", the heroine is in disguise as a commoner, a fortune-teller that the hero is in love with. Yes, the hero is in love with the heroine in disguise. Complicated plot much?

Would you say that more contemporary MT composers are more aware of social issues than in the past?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 10:45 AM

There is a famous story about Sigmund Romberg in a card game with, I think it was, Jerome Kern. Kern signaled to Romberg to play the ace by whistling one of his tunes, "One Alone". Siggy didn't get it and lost the hand. Kern later said to him, "I whistled "One Alone" to you and didn't you catch my message?" Romberg said to him, "Who listens to the lyrics?"

This might have been typical of the composer of Desert Song. The Operetta
in those days was not given to social issues which were largely ignored as were the lyrics by many composers who saw them as window dressing for their tunes.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 09:08 PM

Actually, anyone heard of The Rose of Algeria?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 06:19 AM

And I think that the story I'm working on is going to be "The Desert Song" meets The Rose of Algeria with magic."


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 05:58 AM

Incidentally, I recently found out Victor Herbert wrote an operetta in 1909 called The Rose of Algeria, (originally called Algeria,) which is like a gender-flipped version of The Desert Song. The heroine, Zoradie, (IMO probably a corruption of Zoraida, possibly meaning "enchanting woman") is an Arab sheikha in love with this mysterious poet, who's actually a French Legionnaire, while in The Desert Song it's the hero who's (supposedly) Arab and the heroine who's French. There's even a native rebellion aspect.

I wonder if Romberg, Hammerstein, Harbach and Mandel were inspired by The Rose of Algeria?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 05:55 AM

A princess and Gypsies/Romany? What was the title, Penny S.?I'd be interested in learning more about that one?

The stories about kings etc going out in disguise, like Haroun al-Rashid, are very common. The king in disguise idea is basically the whole foundation of Strider/Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, when the hobbits first meet him in Bree. I'm a Tolkien fan- The Children of Hurin is the source of my username.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Penny S.
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 03:47 AM

I'm reminded of Rider Haggard stories in which African tribes had to have a white queen in order to function properly. Ayesha isn't the only one (though of course stretching a point).

Also of innumerable stories in girl's comics in the 50s in which someone sneaked out in disguise to lead the local whatever - princess/gypsies in the one I remember.

Like Nero or Haroun al Raschid. Not that Nero was out doing good, of course.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 03:03 AM

EDIT: That should be "have to be able to sing as well."


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 03:02 AM

BTW: And I'm working on "The Song of The Brass Key"- Clementina is a "character" role (they're a strong part of most musicals) which AFAIK is where your acting is emphasised over how high etc you can sing- although you have to able to sing as well. As Grishka said in my SOTBK thread (I posted a video on Youtube) the song requires acting. It's a character piece, meant to establish how seductive she is.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 02:39 AM

Yeah, SRS, I think Guest confused them too. When I saw that I thought, WHAT? Mario Lanza was never in a movie of TDS! (Shows how much of a geek I am.) BTW, I'd love to act in a stage production of The Desert Song myself. My dream role is Clementina.
I'd also love to be Adah in Naughty Marietta, just for the chance to sing "Neath The Southern Moon."


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 12:33 AM

He didn't make very many - and he had a short sad life himself that is worthy of a melodrama. Mario Lanza at IMDb. I think you've confused him with Gordon MacRae.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 11:05 PM

I don't think there was a movie with Mario Lanza...


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: GUEST,Guest,,USA
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 09:00 PM

I always liked the movie with Mario Lanza, and I have the album. If the movie and music are not very familiar anymore then maybe it's time for a remake?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Fred Maslan
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 02:42 PM

By the way I love the music from Desert Song, but the plot? No.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Fred Maslan
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 02:39 PM

About the secret identity, In opera in general there is the convention of people wearing flimsy masks and nobody figuring out who it is till the masks are removed.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 08:58 AM

And I also think it's sad that none of my musical geek friends have heard of this operetta. (Anyone else bugged by the plot holes?)


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 08:52 AM

GUEST: Dracula isn't exactly a romantic hero :) and I've got to say, I don't know what the appeal of The Sheik was.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 08:47 AM

I used to sing a lot of the Desert Song numbers in old peoples homes during the early 80s along with Granada and other tenor stuff. Joseph Locke is still popular in the UK There are people in the Tax Office very anxious to meet him ! - they made a film about him as I recall

The lure of exotic locations and peoples is a theme going through literature e g Count Dracula - The Sheik - etc. Describing someone as a sheik in the 30s meant he was quite good looking in a dark romantic sort of way


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 08:43 AM

And BTW, I know operettas and plausible plots with no holes don't exactly go together, but that doesn't change the fact that my suspension of disbelief is seriously stretched. And Clementina is my dream role.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 08:31 AM

Have been looking through the score and Just noticed that in the reprise of The Song of the Brass Key, which begins "Give him the key, the key to your heart", Clementina seems to be encouraging Pierre and Margot to get together. How does that work? She's just arrived from Spain... unless everyone can see it.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 11 Jun 12 - 09:31 PM

JJ, and actually, Adah's perspective in a radically reworked NM would be pretty entertaining to read. IMHO of course. Many of these operettas would make great swashbuckling adventure stories. In the case of NM, which is in the public domain,
I've got an idea (very low on the scale of story importance) where Marietta is a singer/ actress/courtesan who comes to Louisiana to escape poverty in Italy.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: JJ
Date: 11 Jun 12 - 08:52 AM

You're right! In my haste, I put Adah in the wrong New Orleans musical. Instead of Hammerstein and Kern's THE NEW MOON, she belongs to Rida Johnson Young and Victor Herbert's NAUGHTY MARIETTA.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 10 Jun 12 - 09:26 PM

Addition to the above: To me, at least.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 10 Jun 12 - 09:24 PM

Returning to something I thought of when looking back at JJ's Post; not only is Adah (not from Hammerstein, but Rida Johnson Young in Naughty Marietta), the stereotype of the submissive, beautiful non-White woman (which sets my teeth on edge as an Asian) but she and Azuri from TDS might both be cardboard-cut-outs. However, IMO the scene where Azuri says "White men have hurt me- hurt me much. Today I have been paid back for all of my hurts" makes her just a bit sympathetic.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 May 12 - 06:50 PM

And also "The story is a variation on stories such as The Scarlet Pimpernel, Zorro, and Superman." And "The Sheik."


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 May 12 - 06:41 PM

ETA: TDS itself has the same plot as The Sheik: Beautiful heroine is kidnapped by a frightening Arab guy, slowly falls in love with him, then discovers he isn't Arab.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 May 12 - 06:35 PM

What about Lord of the Flies, though? That could be seen as a remake of The Coral Island.. (but I know it's more than that).


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 May 12 - 12:44 PM

French-control of Morocco extended to the strait at Gibralter, so they did control the north. See map- http://www.scribd.com/doc/217606/Map-Morocco-French

I commented on the idea of remake, but refuse to contribute to any specific attempt. A nervous nellie mudelf deleted it.
In essence, I avoid rehashes and most attempted revisions.

Originality is preferable.

Current horrors are "Sherlock" in British TVs, "Hawaii 50" on American television, and staging of a number of baroque operas in performances issued on DVD. Any intent of the original author(s) is thoroughly trashed.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 May 12 - 08:16 AM

Another point re the names, Pierre Birabeau has the same initials as Percy Blakeney, and Margot is a form of Marguerite which if it was intentional, is a clever reference to The Scarlet Pimpernel.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 May 12 - 09:11 PM

4) The Oulad Delim were a Hassane caste tribe (traditionally warriors) which would fit with the Riff leader having to be a good fighter and the R.S. being banished when he refuses to fight.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 May 12 - 08:50 PM

Have been working on the piece, but just returning to mention something about the original. I have a theory (unproven of course) that the Riffs in TDS are actually inspired by the Sahrawi people, and the tribe that appears in the play are inspired by the Oulad Delim in particular, for two main reasons:

1) RL Riffs aren't Arabs, but Berbers, as Q said, and their traditional territory isn't anywhere near the desert (which makes up only the southern part of Morocco).
2) The area of the operetta's Riffs' territory is specifically said to be under French control. French Morocco never included the north of the country but it did include every other region, including the south.
3) The Oulad Delim mostly live in cities like Dakhla in the Western Sahara, but there are some in Southern Morocco, and they were opposed to the French.

Of course, all this assumes that Hammerstein knew about this. He and the other librettists probably took some real-life inspiration and made up everything else.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 May 12 - 09:14 PM

Alright. I'm leaving this thread to work on it.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 23 May 12 - 08:50 PM

Much as I hate to say this, I shall. You want to be a writer? Write! Questions about this or that--hey, go search for yourself. I ain't gonna help you do your homework, capiche? You have some sloppy punctuation errors in the bit you posted. That is what first drafts are: sloppy errors that happen because you are too busy writing to correct them. I wrote eight short stories that took me two years to write, edit and get 'published'. I also recall sending you a few paragraphs from one of the stories to demonstrate how 'research' is both necessary and time-consuming--and I did spend hours trying to help you with the Dickens' tale you were onto at the time. You did not then have the decency to say thank you. I realize that your persona is young, but your youth does not make this old fart stupid. This comes from the heart, so accept it or not.

Best wishes with the book. But please keep in mind that your passion-of-the-moment is not far up on my list of things to do.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 May 12 - 07:09 PM

And, incidentally Where did Azuri's name come from? The etymology is obviously invented, as there are no tigers in any African country.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 May 12 - 08:22 AM

And it's one of the few Disney animated movies where the leads don't end up together.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: JJ
Date: 23 May 12 - 08:20 AM

Actually, "Pocahontas" has a Love vs. Honor conflict right out of the drama of Restoration England. The heroine must give up her love for John Smith because her honor demands she remain with her people.

In "Avatar," the hero gets to keep his honor and have love, too, because in the 21st century, we can have it all!


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 May 12 - 04:31 AM

SeeRecycled In Space


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 May 12 - 08:57 PM

And Disney's Pocahontas, which has an identical plot structure to Avatar, so much that it's hard to not believe that Cameron wasn't inspired by it. In fact, Avatar is basically the Disney movie IN THE FUTURE, WITH ALIENS!
And TDS itself is The SheikWITH A SECRET IDENTITY TWIST!


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: JJ
Date: 22 May 12 - 08:39 AM

And still is! See "Avatar," as I wrote elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 May 12 - 12:55 AM

Of course, the mighty whitey was very common in fiction for a long time...


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 May 12 - 10:35 PM

JJ: Also, I think he got the Riff leadership because he was really good at single combat. Mighty whitey much?


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