The White Horse Inn was the Society’s production in both 1962 and 1974. This musical comedy (sometimes categorised as operetta) revolves around the owner of the titular inn and her head waiter. He is in love with her, but she has set her sights on another, a doctor, a regular visitor to the inn. In turn, he has his eye on another woman and typical intrigues occur before the scenario is finally resolved happily
Composer: Robert Stoltz, Ralph Benatzky
Libretto (English): Robert Gilbert, Eric Charell et al
In 1960 and again in 1982, the Society put on a production of Wild Violets. This operetta tells of the reminiscences of the past triggered by a school reunion. Most of the story is told in flashback as it tells of a trio of friends and how one of them, Paul, met his future wife, Mary. Naturally, the tale includes various shenanigans and assumed identities!
Composer: Robert Stoltz
Libretto (English): Desmond Carter
Book (English): Hassard Short, Desmond Carter, Reginald Purdell
The four-act operetta, The Student Prince is a classic of musical theatre and probably best known for its Drinking Song. Prince Karl Franz is sent incognito to Heidelberg university where he falls for the barkeeper’s niece, Kathie. However, he’s already betrothed to Princess Margaret, who he’s never even met – until she arrives one day to call him home, where his father, the king, is gravely ill. Time passes. Karl Franz is now king himself, although still without any great enthusiasm for marrying Princess Margaret. One day, he’s tempted back to Heidelberg to meet up with his old student friends. Margaret meets up in secret with Kathie and persuades her to forsake Karl Franz, which she does. In a bittersweet finale, Karl Franz resolves to marry Margaret, but avows that Kathie will always be his true love.
The Student Prince was produced by the Society in 1956 and again in 1966.
Composer: Sigmund Romberg
Libretto: Dorothy Donnelly
Book: based on Wilhelm Meyer-Foster’s “Old Heidelberg”
When I’m Calling You-ooo-ooo!
In 1953, the Society put on Rose Marie, an operetta-style musical set in the Canadian Rockies. Miner Jim is falsely accused of murder. His love, Rose Marie, is then encouraged by her brother to marry a city man, Edward Hawley. Their big day arrives, but will the truth come out before Rose Marie marries the wrong man?
Composer: Rudolf Friml, Herbert Stothart
Libretto: Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach
Originally entitled Countess Maritza, this three-act operetta premiered in Vienna in 1924 and versions were performed on Broadway and in the West End (even including a 1983 revival by Sadlers Wells Opera!).
The story is a typical comedy of errors, with false identities assumed and love partners swapped in a farcical manner. It was the Society’s production in 1947.
Composer: Emmerich Kálmán
Libretto: Julius Brammer, Alfred Grünwald
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
Franz 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
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
Rounding off the 1920s, was the Society’s production of the operetta Katinka. Drawing once more on the early 20th century English fascination with the orient – Russia, this time – this tale concerns a boorish Russian Ambassador to Austria. He marries Katinka, despite her reluctance. He is also already married, so the search is on for his first wife, Olga, so that his bigamous marriage to Katinka may be annulled. In a sub-plot, the wife of the man helping Katinka to escape is mistakenly smuggled into a harem for safekeeping, then ends up working at a café in Vienna where the dénouement occurs.
Composer: Rudolf Friml
Libretto: Otto Harbach
Year composed: 1915
1925’s production, The Mousmé, was part of the turn of the century fashion for the oriental, although it didn’t quite achieve the popularity of other operettas of that genre. Despite an initial lavish staging – including an earthquake – it only gained modest success.
Composer: Lionel Monckton
Libretto: Howard Talbot