The Dream Girl & The Song Birds (Victor Herbert) NEW from The Comic Opera Guild of Ann Arbor, Michigan (CD-R)
Composer: Victor Herbert
Comic Opera Guild
THE DREAM GIRL Victor Herbert’s final show was produced on Broadway a month after his death in June, 1924. Herbert was at this time in his life battling congress in founding ASCAP, an organization intended to protect the rights for authors and composers, and, although The Dream Girl was begun in 1919, it was nearly two years after Orange Blossoms (1922) that the show finally opened. It was based on an earlier play, which dealt with the current fad of reincarnation, and starred Fay Bainter, who would later be featured in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair. The show ran 117 performances, but after Herbert’s death, the Schubert Brothers tinkered with it, hiring Sigmund Romberg to add music. The score, unlike most of Herbert’s output, was never published, and this performance will be sung from the reconstructed manuscript. (We have included Romberg’s version of “The Broad Highway” at the end of this CD.)
The short farce THE SONG BIRDS was one of a series of farces produced annually at the Lamb’s Club, satirizing the theater business in New York. Written in 1906, a month after the San Francisco earthquake, it was then turned into a fundraiser for The Bohemians, a theater company in that devastated city. The show satirized the opera war of the period, which pitted Oscar Hammerstein’s Manhattan Opera House against the Metropolitan Opera. Hammerstein, whose earlier theaters catered to vaudeville and other popular shows, was disdained by Heinrich Conried, manager of the Met, for thinking he could do opera. In response, Hammerstein stole some stars who had become disenchanted with the Met, including the great Nellie Melba and Alessandro Bonci, and went into direct competition. In 1917, the show resurfaced as a failed musical The Land of Nod, and appears again today, nearly a century later.