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Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?

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


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Subject: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 May 12 - 10:36 PM

I've recently been watching the earliest movie version of The Desert Song on YouTube, from 1929, partly for enjoyment, and partly because I'm doing a steampunk novel inspired by it (but the Red Shadow is an actual Arab chieftain, removing the secret identity/racial impersonation aspect. And he doesn't fall in love with the White girl, but the mixed-race one). Anyone share my mixed feelings about the story? Basically, that while the music and lyrics are great, the story is a little racist and Orientalist (Azuri is eeevil and petty! Ali Ben Ali is a stereotypical Arab sheikh, complete with harem! The men in the Shadow's band are oversexed!)


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 May 12 - 10:58 PM

ETA: "story" should be "operetta". "If One Flower Grows Alone In Your Garden" in the "Eastern and Western Love" sequence. And even though harems in the stereotypical conception were only common in the Ottoman Empire.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Acme
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:35 PM

I didn't see the early version, but I think it was Gordon McCrae and Ann Blythe in the later musical version I remember from childhood.

If you want to see one that is colossally politically incorrect, take a look at Kismet.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:42 PM

According to IMDB, it was MacRae and Kathryn Grayson. My English teacher last year told me she saw the early version as a child (I'm Australian). The early version isn't seen in the US, because it was made before the Hays Code. Here's a clip from the early version: Song of the Brass Key- Marie Wells as Clementina and Roberto E. Guzman as Sid El Kar from 1929 The Desert Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPoqQdSeAXc


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:47 PM

ETA: The 1929 movie version is the most faithful to the play.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:51 PM

Song of the Brass Key- Marie Wells as Clementina and Roberto E Guzman as Sid El Kar in The Desert Song (1929)


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 12:06 AM

IMO, the racist element is the idea that "the locals need a White man" to lead them. In all the versions, the Red Shadow/El Khobar is always White. If you changed it, it wouldn't be The Desert Song.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 12 - 12:14 AM

Read City of Gold

It is the truth behind your fantasy...and it shapes the Arab world today.

ENJOY

xenophobia


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 12:24 AM

I'm not saying The Desert Songreflects reality at all, GUEST. It doesn't. That's like a White person saying that Disney's Mulanreflects reality. I'm Chinese, and I can say it doesn't and never has, except in some cultural aspects. What I'm trying to do with the steampunk story mentioned above is to do a different take on the same story as Harbach and Mandel in TDS.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 12:27 AM

that should be a space. And emphasis on "some".


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Acme
Date: 18 May 12 - 12:31 AM

The non-subtle touch of Gargoyle arrives in the thread. Are you suggesting that no-one here has heard of Orientalism? Let's add Seven Pillars of Wisdom to your reading list, and here is a story about T.E. Lawrence on NPR.

Morwen, you are right - it was Kathryn Grayson. I didn't look it up before jotting an answer. Grayson and Blythe crossed my path via film so often when I was kid watching the various musicals that they were sometimes interchangeable.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 12:39 AM

I think that Gargoyle issuggesting that no-one here has heard of Orientalism. Newsflash: I have. And The Desert Song in all its versions, is Orientalist. But that doesn't mean that the songs aren't good.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 01:08 AM

As I said before, the idea in all these versions is that Margot is attracted to El Khobar/ the Red Shadow because she sees him as "savage" and "exotic".


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Acme
Date: 18 May 12 - 01:29 AM

That was always quite obvious, I think. There wasn't a suggestion that I recall of her deep understanding of an ancient and sophisticated culture. She was a product of the European "Enlightenment" and the intellectual hierarchy it implied.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 02:05 AM

What I don't understand is why the Shadow had to be French. Was it just so she could see the guy (Pierre/Paul)'s other side? I've always thought of doing a story where he's not French, but an actual Arab and basically, Pierre/European guy and the Red Shadow are two different men.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 02:33 AM

In the play, Pierre (the Shadow) kidnaps Margot to give her "romance". The Riffs object to this, understandably, because it puts them in danger from the French. But he doesn't, so eventually he's set up to fight his own father, and when he refuses, they exile him for being a coward. It's kind of a bad message. Basically, "It's perfectly OK to throw away your ideals and your friends for your true love."


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 02:35 AM

ETa: That's if you think about it too hard...


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 06:30 AM

Just why did the Red Shadow have to be a White man?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 18 May 12 - 07:04 AM

Because that's what the movie goers of the time wanted to see???


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 07:21 AM

Yeah, but Mo, you could have practically the same story with him being an actual Arab. Like this:
A young French girl goes out to Morocco to marry a Legion officer. He is living at the fort, which is being attacked by a group of Arab insurgents. The new governor, a general, is trying to track down the mysterious leader of the rebellion. His son, who everyone thinks is a fool, is in love with the girl, who hates her fiance but also doesn't love the governor's son. The heroine's fiance tells her he is going to give her the rebel leader's head as a wedding present. One day the girl tells the governor's son that she is fascinated by the rebel leader and secretly wishes for him or another local chieftain to take her away. Her fiance's former lover, a local girl, tries to convince him to come back with her by promising to tell him the rebel leader's name.

A few days later, the rebel leader turns up at the fort secretly and tries to convince the girl to go away with him. she hits him with her riding crop, but soon he turns up again and kidnaps her and another girl from the fort and takes them into the desert. Eventually she discovers he's actually one of the Arab stable hands/cameleers at the fort after he loses the leadership of his rebel group.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 07:27 AM

ETA: And of course, they get married. (He was raised as a Catholic, because he's half-Spanish.) I don't see why they had to make him a white man. That summary above is the same story as the operetta, except the Shadow is Arab.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 09:21 AM

And don't forget the fact that Romberg and Hammerstein portrayed the Riffs as desert people when they're not.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Joe Nicholson
Date: 18 May 12 - 10:48 AM

I seem to recall a film version of The Desert Song with Dennis Morgan as the Red Shadow or is my memory playing me tricks.

Joe Nicholson


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 18 May 12 - 04:30 PM

But the movie-goers of the time, although they might like the romantic idea of attraction between different races were VERY MUCH against 'mixed marriage'.
I can remember popular thought of the 50s "but think of the children".

A film must have a happy ending.
If she marries an Arab it would cause mixed feelings to say the least
So....


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 08:02 PM

Joe: yep, with Irene Manning as Margot. 1943 according to IMDB. It's "lost".


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 08:26 PM

ETA: Both the 1943 and 1953 movie versions call the Shadow "El Khobar" and introduce a second enemy in the form of a local leader.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 09:13 PM

ETA: And another thing, why, in all the movie versions of The Desert Song, are the Arabs played by White actors? There were Arab actors in Hollywood at the time.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 10:15 PM

At least at the time of the 1950s version.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 12 - 11:08 PM

Jack Pratt and Roberto E.Guzman "If One Flower Grows Alone In Your Garden


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 12 - 11:12 PM

You display Absolute BRILLANCE.

Please continue posting your insights to THIS THREAD.

it would be a travesty to loose such diamonds of thought among the less literate tbreads of some Kat comments.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 12:14 AM

ETA: Interesting note (ha!) I can pull off the following songs from The Desert Song:
If One Flower Grows Alone In Your Garden (lowest note is B-flat below middle C, according to the sheet music, and highest note is an E an octave above middle C)
The Riff Song (lowest note is A below middle C)
Soft as a Pigeon Lights (haven't seen the sheet music, could someone with the score and who can read music tell me what the lowest note of that song is? I may be singing it an octave higher).


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 03:14 AM

Another thing: Why does no-one notice Pierre/Paul leaving the fort at night? Is his act just that convincing?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 May 12 - 04:05 AM

There's a beautiful play by John Godber(he of the Hull Truck theatre Company) called September in the Rain. Its about a miner and his wife , who go to Blackpool to see John Hansom as The Red Shadow in The desert Song. They have seen JH many times, but they are are Mario Lanza fans.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 04:28 AM

Al, have you actually seen a stage version of The Desert Song?Or any of the movie versions? As I said a few posts above, my English teacher saw the 1929 John Boles movie version as a child in the 1960s.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 May 12 - 05:26 AM

"The Desert Song" is pure Hollywood schlock and, as such, is hardly worth dissecting. It's a misch-masch of improbable plotlines and scenes using ideas borrowed from "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and capitalising on the interest of the public in the persona of people like Lawrence of Arabia.

The thing is a reflection of the money-making mores of the period - the mid-1920s - and the social and racial attitudes of the day. Is there any value in analysing it?

And, yes, I've seen it, with a rather drunk Joseph Locke (a popular Irish tenor of the 1940s and 1950s) warbling "Goodbye, goodbye..." and wobbling scenery, in a theatre in the Lancashire seaside town of Blackpool. Perfection!


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 05:49 AM

Well, Will, I think it's kind of interesting and fun analysing it myself, but then I'm the kind of person who goes to sites like TV Tropes, where they analyse everything for fun.TV Tropes


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 05:51 AM

ETA: No, there's no value in analysing it, but I like to do it because it's fun to me.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 06:05 AM

Anyone else want to continue discussing TDS? Tropes, music, anything?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 06:35 AM

ETA (Correction to second-last post): IMO there is a value in analysing TDS and what it says about Orientalism and exoticism- I've often heard people I know ie. young people about 18-19 talk about other cultures in a way that sounds like they're really saying "Oh look, they're so exotic."


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: fat B****rd
Date: 19 May 12 - 06:54 AM

How many UK 'catters of a certain age will be more familiar with Ray Ellington as 'Sheikh Rattleandroll' and 'The Red Bladder' as heard in the Goon Show?
I don't mean to belittle this thread, it'sa quite fascinating IMO.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 06:57 AM

My dad knows The Goon Show, even though we're not from the UK. My family likes UK comedy.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: fat B****rd
Date: 19 May 12 - 07:28 AM

Zapristi !!


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 07:32 AM

So, fb, what are your opinions on TDS?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: JJ
Date: 19 May 12 - 07:55 AM

If you're ever in New York City, visit the Paley Center and see the TV version from the early 1950s starring a rather-too-old Nelson Eddy.

It isn't very good, but it's a fascinating historical document.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 07:58 AM

Alright, if I ever visit America, that's one of the things I'll do. JJ, do you share my opinions on the operetta's plot?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: fat B****rd
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:23 AM

TDS is fine by me. My wife is more appreciative of 'straight' musicals than myself but we watched it, the Macrae-Grayson version about 22 years ago which was the last time I noticed it being on UK TV.
Now the Robeson version of Showboat.....there's a musical if ever I saw one.
Best regards to you ME1


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:39 AM

Thanks, FB. Just waiting for JJ to express his/her opinion. ETA: My teacher really likes Paul Robeson too. And so do I.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 08:00 PM

Why doesn't anyone else guess the secret identity?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 12 - 11:09 PM

Anyone have a clue why? Is everyone in the plot so clueless that no-one notices the Governor's son sneaking out at night? (I know the plot is implausible, but this one plot point bugs me!. Or is it a convention of secret identity plots that everyone acts really dumb when they could easily figure out the hero's secret for themselves?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 12:00 AM

For that matter, can a secret identity plot ever be done well, without big plot holes?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 12:54 AM

Another ETA: On those songs, I've read the threads on vocal production on here, and obviously, as a woman and a soprano, (my last teacher told me I was a soprano)
I sound very different singing "Soft as a Pigeon Lights" or "If One Flower Grows Alone In Your Garden" than a (male) tenor singing the same songs.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 01:33 AM

Anyone still interested in analysing TDS for fun?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: banjoman
Date: 20 May 12 - 05:56 AM

I actually saw John Hanson in the Desert Song at the Empire in Liverpool -my elder sister took me because she was given tickets and was a JH fan - and although I dont remember much of the plot some of the songs still float to the surface occasionally.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:16 AM

Banjoman, was the production you saw any good? The only stage plays I've seen have been for school. I saw the Sydney Theatre Company's production of The Crucible. It was really good.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:20 AM

BTW, when I described the plot to a teacher at my school she said it was "like a sheikh romance, kidnapped and taken into the desert" by a (supposed) Middle Eastern/North African guy.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: JJ
Date: 20 May 12 - 08:50 AM

Your teacher was right. Orientalism on stage goes back as least as far as Mozart's "Abduction From the Seraglio" (libretto by Bretzner and Stephanie).

But I think the proximate cause of "The Desert Song" is Edith Maude Hull's 1919 novel "The Sheik," and the immensely popular 1921 Rudolph Valentino film based on it. And in the novel, the Arab sheik turns out to be not an Arab at all, but of Spanish and English descent. Hurrah!

Like many works, "The Desert Song" will not bear very much analysis. For one thing, how did Paul manage to get to be the big boss of the Riffs in the first place? But it can be an enjoyable romance, even in these ironic times. You might be able to find the script in a local library, as I did.

It's my belief that Hammerstein's creation of Azuri, the emotional Arab; Wanda, the murderous Indian (in "Rose-Marie"); and Adah, the loving quadroon (in "The New Moon") -- these three women who are "the other" -- led Jerome Kern to choose him to write the book and lyrics for "Show Boat," which features the "tragic mulatto" Julie, a character much more real than either of the first three.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 08:57 AM

ETA: Talking about characters- watching the 1929 film I always thought that Azuri was at least slightly sympathetic. I mean, from the way she talks- "When pretty French girl smile at you, you forget Azuri", you (well I do,/i>)anyway, get the impression that Capt. Fontaine just left her when he went back to France and got engaged to Margot.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 09:21 AM

JJ: Incidentally, you may be interested to know that The Desert Song is also the inspiration for the steampunk story I'm working on at the moment. (It's only in first draft, but is getting on OK). There's a Red Shadow, an actual Arab chieftain of a nomadic desert tribe, not a White guy pretending to be an Arab, and an Azuri, a street dancer of mixed heritage and a member of the Red Shadow's tribe and the anti-heroine, and the "desert magic" is literal magic. And oh yeah, there's a Pierre/Paul-type character too, who's a cousin to the Margot character. Yeah, I like this musical so much, I decided to twist the plot.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 09:23 AM

ETA: I love Show Boat too.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 07:17 PM

ETA 2: Actually, the story was inspired by the question, "What if the R.S. was an Arab?"
and it's fantasy with Spain as well as France being important.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 07:22 PM

ETA: And the guerrilla warfare/opposition to colonialism aspect is more important than the romantic aspect.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 09:14 PM

And I hope I can do enough research to avoid Orientalist stereotypes of the Middle East/North Africa/ anywhere "in the Islamic world" etc to create a plausible fantasy-Morocco, not one based on stereotypes of the barbaric noble savage living in the desert, harem girls etc. I can't think of any fictional books in Middle Eastern/North African settings that don't involve those portrayed in a very stereotypical way.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 12 - 11:03 PM

Anyone think a Desert Songreworking is something they'd like to read?


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

*That should be a space.


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 May 12 - 02:49 AM

Anyone?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 May 12 - 03:27 AM

And something else; did Hammerstein make up Azuri's name?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 May 12 - 06:18 AM

Refresh. Anyone want to offer their opinions on the idea of a TDS reworking?


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Subject: RE: Anyone want to discuss The Desert Song?
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 May 12 - 06:12 PM

Refresh. And for that matter, Tv Tropes summarised the plot as "The Sheik, with a two person love triangle,". IMO it's The Sheik meets The Scarlet Pimpernel.


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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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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: 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 - 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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 - 06:50 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 08:52 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Acme
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: 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: 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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