Emmerich Kálmán in wartime

In the NYT on the 5th, a piece “Ukraine City at War’s Edge Clings to Arts” by Rick Lyman, with this wonderful photo:

(Performers with the Donetsk National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater waited in the wings on Sunday during a production of “Gypsy Princess.”)

The persistent shelling was barely audible through the thick stone walls of the Donetsk National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater. It might have been nothing more than a rickety tram bouncing along Artem Street.

But there was one moment, as Sylva made her grand entrance in the matinee performance of Emmerich Kalman’s “Gypsy Princess” last weekend, that a solid blast caused the sturdy floors to shiver, ever so slightly, like God’s own timpani.

“In the theater, there is a rule that, even in war, performances should continue,” said Andrey Kornienko, the opera’s advertising director. “It is our duty to do our job, to support the people emotionally, to bring them art.”

Kálmán is a great favorite of mine. I came to him many years ago through a program on WOSU-FM by Ilsedore Edse of the OSU German department. Via Countess Maritza, specifically. The overture can be heard here.

On the composer, from Wikipedia:

Emmerich (or Imre) Kálmán (24 October 1882 – 30 October 1953) was a Hungarian composer of operettas.

… the popularity of his humorous cabaret songs led him towards the composition of operettas. His first great success was TatárjárásEin Herbstmanöver in German, meaning Autumn maneuver, although the English title is The Gay Hussars, which was first staged at the Lustspieltheater in Budapest, on 22 February 1908. Thereafter he moved to Vienna where he achieved worldwide fame through his operettas Der Zigeunerprimas, Die Csárdásfürstin, Gräfin Mariza, and Die Zirkusprinzessin.

Kálmán and Franz Lehár were the leading composers of what has been called the “Silver Age” of Viennese operetta during the first quarter of the 20th century. He became well known for his fusion of Viennese waltz with Hungarian csárdás. Even so, polyphonically and melodically, Kálmán was a devoted follower of Giacomo Puccini, while in his orchestration methods he employed principles characteristic of Tchaikovsky’s music.

Despite his Jewish origins he was one of Adolf Hitler’s favorite composers. After the Anschluss, he rejected Hitler’s offer to become an ‘honorary Aryan’ and was forced to move first to Paris, then to the United States, settling in California in 1940.

The Gipsy (or Gypsy) Princess is Kálmán’s most famous and successful operetta:

Die Csárdásfürstin (The Csárdás Princess; translated into English as The Riviera Girl and The Gipsy Princess) is an operetta in 3 acts by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán, libretto by Leo Stein and Bela Jenbach. It premiered in Vienna at the Johann Strauß-Theater on 17 November 1915. (link)

And the Countess Maritza (accent on the first syllable):

Gräfin Mariza (Countess Maritza) is an operetta in three acts composed by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán, with a libretto by Julius Brammer and Alfred Grünwald. It premiered in Vienna on 28 February 1924 at the Theater an der Wien. (link)

One Response to “Emmerich Kálmán in wartime”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Ned Deily reminds me of this bit of Kalmaniana, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_Lady:

    Arizona Lady is an operetta in two acts by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán. The libretto was written by Alfred Grünwald and Gustav Beer. It premiered, as a broadcast in Munich on 1 January 1954, and on stage in Bern, at the Stadttheater, on 14 February 1954. Left unfinished at the time of Emmerich Kalman’s death, it had been completed by his son, Charles Kalman. It was given its American premiere, in a new English translation by Gerald Frantzen and Hersh Glagov, by Chicago Folks Operetta in July 2010, at Stage 773 in Chicago, Illinois.

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