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The Firefly 

Firefly - cover to Ohio L.O. Cast Recording

A Comedy Opera in Three Acts.
Book and lyrics by Otto Hauerbach [Harbach]. Music by Rudolf Friml.

Opened 2 December, 1912 at the Lyric Theatre, moved 30 December, 1912 to the Casino Theatre and closed 15 March, 1913 (120 perfs).


Set in America it is not an America of a distant, romantic day, but rather of much the same world its audiences stepped out into on leaving the theatre.

At a pier at the foot of 23rd Street the Van Dare yacht is preparing to sail for Bermuda. Geraldine Van Dare, the owner's niece, arrives with her fiancé, Jack Travers. They are quarreling. Geraldine, snobbish and bitchy, insists she has witnessed a flirtation between Jack and a little Italian street singer. After the two have boarded, the waif, Nina Corelli appears. She spots an old friend in Suzette, Geraldine's maid. Prodded by Suzette she admits she did indeed wink at Jack, but, after all, what does it matter if "Love Is Like A Firefly". Her lightheartedness is a cover. At home her drunken guardian beats her. She would like to escape, and when she hears the yacht is heading for Bermuda, she inquires if Bermuda is farther away than Coney Island. Assured it is, she begs to come aboard. Suzette points out that the jealous Geraldine would never allow it, so Nina rushes home and changes into her brother's clothes. She returns, and with disarming naïveté she tells Suzette she is now Antonio Columbo, a neighborhood pickpocket.

Tony sings a love song, "Giannina Mia." Another passenger, the musician Franz believes this is the voice he has been seeking for his choir. He begs the Van Dares to allow the "boy" to accompany them. There is some reluctance. But Nina, seeing Corelli approach, runs aboard as the gangplank is raised.

At the Van Dares' Bermuda estate everyone has fallen in love with the boy, except Geraldine, as the boy reminds her of the street singer. The disguised Nina has fallen in love with Jack. She is overjoyed when she is offered a job as a valet by Jack.

Geraldine, feeling more and more isolated, sulks. Jack's uncle, John Thurston, alone offers her sympathy. But a thief is loose, and when the police connect the robbery with a pickpocket, Antonio Columbo, known to be on the island, Nina is forced to drop her masquerade. Amid the general consternation Franz agrees to adopt the waif, and the two go off together.

The last act takes place in the Van Dare home in New York. Three years have passed. While Jack has been away his romance with Geraldine has cooled. But he comes to her house on a courtesy call just as Franz returns with his charge. Only now she is no longer Nina Corelli. Under Franz's careful tutelage she has become Giannina, a great prima donna. Jack realises it is she he loves, and Giannina confesses she has never stopped loving him.

(Adapted from "A Chronicle of American Musical Theatre" by Gerald Bordman)

Musical Numbers

  1. A Trip to Bermuda (Opening Chorus Act 1) - Sybil Vandare, Suzette, Pietro, Chorus
  2. He Says Yes, She Says No! - Geraldine Vandare, Jack Travers, Chorus
  3. Call Me Uncle - John Thurston, Sybil Vandare, Chorus
  4. Love Is Like a Firefly - Nina Corelli
  5. Something - Suzette, Jenkins
  6. Giannina (Mia) (Italian Street Song) - Nina Correlli
  7. Finale - Ensemble
  8. (In) Sapphire Seas (Opening Chorus Act 2) - Sybil Vandare, Ensemble
  9. Tommy Atkins (on a Dress-Parade) (I Want to be a Jolly Soldier) - Nina Corelli, Ensemble
  10. Sympathy - Geraldine Vandare, John Thurston
  11. A Woman's Smile - Jack Travers
  12. De Trop - Jenkins, Pietro, Suzette, Chorus
  13. We're Going to Make a Man of You - Nina Corelli, Herr Franz, Jack Travers, John Thurston, Jenkins
  14. The Beautiful Ship from Toyland - Herr Franz, Male Chorus
  15. When a Maid Comes Knocking at Your Heart - Nina Corelli, Jack Travers, Herr Franz
  16. Finale Act 2 - Ensemble
  17. Opening Chorus Act 3 - Ensemble
  18. An American Beauty Rose - John Thurston, Ensemble
  19. The Latest Thing from Paris - Pietro, Suzette
  20. Kiss Me and 'Tis Day (The Dawn of Love) - Nina Corelli
  21. Finale - Ensemble

Scenes and Settings