AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATRE: EUROPEAN INFLUENCES (TV)

Summary

One in this educational public affairs series that traces the origins and development of the American musical theater and examines the careers and contributions of the creative artists who have made the musical a native American art form. In an informal workshop setting, New York City high school students meet the composers, lyricists, and performers who have shaped the American musical and question them about their work. In this edition, host Jim Morske examines the elements of European music and entertainment that influenced the development of the American musical theater. The program opens with the CBS Orchestra playing a can can from Jacques Offenbach's "Orpheus in the Underworld," after which Morske explains that the most popular forms of theater in the 1880s were burlesque, extravaganza, and operetta, particularly the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Barbara Meister sings "Buttercup" from "H.M.S. Pinafore" to illustrate the playfulness and melodic beauty of their work, followed by Wrightson's performance of "When I Was a Lad," exhibiting Gilbert and Sullivan's satirical touches and their technique of placing of serious characters in ridiculous situations. Morske explains the team's set of principles and the most prevalent ingredients evident in their productions, and Meister, as Yum Yum in "The Mikado" sings "The Moon and I." Next, Wrightson performs "I've Got a Little List," also from "The Mikado," as an example of Gilbert and Sullivan's use of "tongue tripping satire on topical subjects." This strong Oriental influence eventually infiltrated American works such as "Wang," a selection from which, "A Man with an Elephant on His Hands," is performed by the CBS Orchestra. Meister sings "Every Rose Must Have a Thorn", also from "Wang," to illustrate the requisite sentimental ballad in such works. Morske then reads the plot of the first American comic opera, "The Little Tycoon," from which Wrightson and Meister sing the duet "Oh, We're Immensely Hi-Toned." Conductor Alfredo Antonini comments that Italian operas, recently introduced into the United States at that time, had an enormous influence, and illustrates the fact on the piano. Morske mentions Jacques Offenbach's contribution to the art form with his witty, risque opera bouffes, and the orchestra demonstrates with a portion of "La Vie Parisienne." Offenbach's song "I Dote on the Military" from "The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein" suggests the medium's love and use of all things military as performed by Meister. The program closes as the orchestra plays the waltz from Johann Strauss's "Die Fledermaus."

Cataloging of this program was made possible by a grant from the GRAMMY Foundation.

Details

  • NETWORK: WCBS-TV
  • DATE: November 22, 1959 Sunday 4:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:28:38
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:55267
  • GENRE: Music
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Music, popular (songs, etc.)
  • SERIES RUN: WCBS (New York, NY) - TV series, 1959-1965
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Ned Cramer … Producer
    • Ethel Burns … Associate Producer, For the Board of Education
    • Martin Carr … Director
    • Alfredo Antonini … Conductor
    • CBS Orchestra, The … Music Group
    • Jim Morske … Host
    • Earl Wrightson … Singer
    • Barbara Meister … Singer
    • William S. Gilbert
    • De Wolf Hopper
    • Jacques Offenbach
    • Johann Strauss
    • Arthur Sullivan