Hebden Bridge Light Opera Society

The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd

Tag: 1930s


Although the Society couldn’t have known it, its 1938 production of Betty would be its last for for a number of years. Although rehearsals were under way in 1939 on the hugely successful musical comedy, The Arcadians, the advent of war put a halt on the Society’s activities. Not until 1946 would the Society stage another full-scale production, although throughout the war years, various members gave charity concerts in the local area.

Betty tells of the Duke of Crowborough, frustrated by his dissolute son, Gerald and insisting that he takes a wife. Out of spite, Gerald proposes to Betty, a kitchen maid, although with no intention of settling down with her. The Duke cunningly settles Gerald’s allowance on Betty, whose charms eventually win over everyone.

Composer: Paul Rubens, Ernest Steffan
Libretto: Adrian Ross, Paul Rubens
Book: Frederick Lonsdale, Gladys Unger
Year: 1914

The Belle Of New York

Photo of Belle Of New York sheet music

The Belle Of New York had been the first major US musical success in the West End during the Victorian era. It was much revived, made into 2 film versions, and also remained popular with amateur groups until the mid-1970s. The Society’s production took place in 1937.

The story concerns Harry Bronson and his father, Ichabod who disowns his son finding out that he’s misbehaved on his stag night. Harry meets attractive Salvation Army soldier Violet, who turns out to be the daughter of one of Ichabod’s old friends. Ichabod vows to leave his fortune to her, but she aims to change his mind and get Harry reinstated as the heir.

Composer: Gustave Kerker
Libretto / Book: Hugh Morton
Year: 1897

Goodnight Vienna

Photo of Goodnight Vienna sheet music

In 1936, the Society performed the (then) relatively new romantic operetta Goodnight Vienna. It’s a classic reverse of fortune tale, telling the story of Max and Vicki who, separated by the war, find each other again afterwards. It was considered a competent English imitation of the Viennese style and was later made into a Hollywood film. Its most lasting legacy has been the adoption of the phrase “Goodnight Vienna”, meaning an end of things, into common usage.

Composer: George Posford
Libretto / Book; Eric Maschwitz
Year: 1932

The Maid Of The Mountains

Photo of Maid Of The Mountains sheet music

The Maid Of The Mountains was the Society’s 1935 revival of an enormously successful West End hit of the early 20th Century. A massive hit in the UK and Australia, it was also very popular with amateur operatic groups until around 1970.

The story concerns a bandit chief, Baldassaré and his love, Teresa. When he tries to disband his crew, he sends Teresa away but she is captured by the local governor. She initially refuses to betray Baldassaré but is persuaded to when she discovers he has fallen for another woman. He is captured but escapes and the two lovers forgive one another in the end.

Composer: Harold Fraser-Simson, James W Tate
Libretto: Harry Graham, Frank Clifford Harris, Valentine
Book: Frederick Lonsdale
Year: 1916

Miss Hook Of Holland

Photo of Miss Hook Of Holland sheet music

Successful in the West End and Broadway, Miss Hook Of Holland was also popular with amateur operatic groups up until the 1950s. The Society put on its production of the show in 1933.

Sally Hook is a smart businesswoman who has invented a liqueur called “Cream of the Sky”. When the recipe is stolen and sold, her father offers a reward, believing that the “finder” and “thief” will turn out to be the same person. Sally’s love rivals must prove which of them is trustworthy.

Composer/Libretto: Paul Rubens
Year: 1907


Gypsy Love

photo of gypsy love sheet musicFranz Léhar is perhaps best known for composing The Merry Widow. The Society put on a production of his operetta Gypsy Love in 1932.

Zorika is engaged to Jonel but tempted by gypsy violinist Józsi. She remembers a popular belief that brides who drink from the Czerna River will see a vision of the future. She does so, falls asleep and envisions a less-than-perfect with Józsi. Waking up, she resolves to stay with Jonel.

Composer: Franz Léhar

Year: 1909

No! No! Nanette

Photo of No No Nanette sheet music

No! No! Nanette is a well-loved musical comedy. It is essentially a farce centring around three couples who wind up in Atlantic City: Jimmy, a wealthy Bible publisher and his frugal wife Sue, Sue’s best friend Lucille and her husband Billy, and Jimmy and Sue’s ward, Nanette and her beau Tom. Jimmy is trying to extricate himself from three women with whom he has an apparently platonic benefactor relationship, which Sue doesn’t know about. When they threaten to blackmail him, he enlists Billy’s help which, in turn causes a rift with Lucille. Meanwhile, Nanette wants to have some fun before she settles down with Tom, so heads to the beach against Sue’s wishes, secretly aided by Jimmy.

The Hebden Bridge Light Opera Society put this show on in1931 and again in 1951.

Composer: Vincent Youmans
Libretto: Irving Caesar, Otto Harbach
Year: 1925

The Lilac Domino

Photo of Lilac Domino sheet music

Heralding the new decade, in 1930 the Society presented The Lilac Domino, a three act operetta about a gambling count who falls in love at a masked ball with a woman in a lilac domino mask. Originally in German, it failed to find success when first performed in Germany. It was extremely popular in the UK, particularly during both World Wars. Various different translations of the libretto and book have been made down the years, with a range of alternate settings for the operetta’s action.

The Hebden Bridge Light Opera Society put this show on once again in 1954.

Composer: Charles Cuvillier
Libretto: Robert B Smith
Book: Harry B Smith
Year: 1914

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