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Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?

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


MorwenEdhelwen1 16 Jul 12 - 03:02 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 16 Jul 12 - 03:03 AM
Penny S. 16 Jul 12 - 03:47 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 16 Jul 12 - 05:55 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 21 Jul 12 - 05:58 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 21 Jul 12 - 06:19 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 21 Jul 12 - 09:08 PM
Stringsinger 22 Jul 12 - 10:45 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 12 - 07:10 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Jul 12 - 07:08 AM
Don Firth 23 Jul 12 - 04:35 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Jul 12 - 07:46 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 24 Jul 12 - 08:52 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 24 Jul 12 - 08:55 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 25 Jul 12 - 04:48 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 25 Jul 12 - 06:26 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 25 Jul 12 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,Mollie 01 Dec 12 - 05:47 PM
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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 - 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 07:46 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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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