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Music in the Air


Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II: Music by Jerome Kern

Alvin Theatre, Broadway - November 8, 1932 (342 perfs)


One of Jerome Kern's great scores and a "must" for those societies that can happily boast a large chorus. And a large chorus indeed that is needed, minimum requirements being 12 sopranos, 11 mezzos, 5 tenors, 2 baritones, 2 basses and 8 children (including one "fat boy" character). A large cast of principals is also required; the juvenile leads, Sieglinde and Karl are soprano and baritone together with Cornelius (baritone), Frieda (soprano), Bruno (baritone), and Marthe (mezzo). Other members have small but important parts and all should be able to sing.

The unforgettable song in this show is "I've Told Every Little Star", but there are many lovely melodies such as, "There Is a Hill Beyond a Hill" and "The Song Is You"; also the waltz songs, "And Love Was Born", "One More Dance" and "Night Flies". Good voices are essential for all these songs.

The story in two acts and many scenes (all of them simple) about a Professor of Music, his daughter, her schoolteacher sweetheart and an operatic star, is easy to understand, pleasant and gay in typical Viennese operetta style. This is a musical that merits more performances than it receives. It contains every quality associated with Jerome Kern, the elegance of the music matching the grace of the lyrics, as revealed in the enchanting vocal arrangements given to the chorus.

The Story

(Bavaria - 1930s - but can be updated)

The setting is the mountain town of Edendorff in Bavaria where music teacher Dr. Walther Lessing, has a beautiful daughter, Sieglinde. She is in love with Karl Reder, the local schoolmaster. Karl and Sieglinde travel to Munich and try to get a song. written by Walther and Karl, published. It is there that Karl is enamoured of operetta star Frieda Hatzfeld whilst Sieglinde is smitten by operetta librettist, Bruno Mahler with whom Frieda lives. Mahler wants Sieglinde to appear in his new work, Tingle, Tangle. At this, Frieda moves out of Mahler's apartment and moves to an hotel where she can see Karl on a regular basis. 

One day Bruno takes Sieglinde to the Munich zoo where Sieglinde is warned by Cornelius, a bird-seller, that as she and Karl are country people, it is not wise to stay in a big town. Sieglinde spurns an unwanted pass from Bruno whilst Frieda finds Karl equally unresponsive. Frieda plans to leave for Berlin to star in a new film. Before she leaves she warns Karl that Bruno will cast Sieglinde aside as soon as he has used her. It is left to Karl to tell the producer of the show that Frieda has left. Bruno insists, to Karl's chagrin, that Sieglinde can take over the leading role in the operetta. Resulting from machinations of her father, and a somewhat chaotic dress rehearsal it becomes evident that Sieglinde is far too inexperienced to take on a leading role. As a result Bruno's affections vanish. Walther and Sieglinde are told in no uncertain terms that the theatre is no place for amateurs and they should return to their home. They do. 

Frieda meanwhile has returned to take up the leading role and is an overwhelming success. 

Karl returns to Edendorff - and Sieglinde: they have both learned a valuable lesson.

Principal Characters

Cornelius - a bird-seller - baritone
Frieda Hatzfeld - an operetta star - soprano
Bruno Mahler - a composer - baritone
Sieglinde Lessing - a young singer - soprano
Dr Walther Lessing - her composer and music teacher father - bass
Karl Reder - Her lyricist friend, the local schoolteacher - baritone
Ernst Weber - A publisher
Lili Kirschner - wife of the producer

Principal Musical Numbers

  1. Overture - (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern)
  2. I've Told Every Little Star – (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern) (Karl and Sieglinde)
  3. Prayer – (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern)
  4. There's a Hill Beyond a Hill – (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern) - (The Trekkers)
  5. I'm Alone – (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern) - (Sieglinde)
  6. I'm So Eager (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern) - (Karl and Sieglinde)
  7. One More Dance (Night Flies By) – (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern)
  8. When the Spring Is In the Air (Sieglinde)
  9. And Love Was Born (Cornelius)
  10. In Egern on the Tegern See – (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern) - (Frieda)
  11. The Song is You (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern) - (Karl and Sieglinde)
  12. We Belong Together – (Hammerstein II/Kern / Jerome Kern)
  13. Summertime, song (from Porgy and Bess, opera) - (George Gershwin / DuBose Heyward)
  14. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child - (Traditional Spiritual / Traditional)
  15. Lover, song (from film "Love Me Tonight") – (Richard Rodgers)
  16. The Man I Love, song (from Strike Up the Band, 1st version; orig. composed for Lady, Be Good!) – (George Gershwin)
  17. I'm Nobody's Baby, song (for the film Andy Hardy Meets Debutante) – (Milton Ager / Benny Davis / Lester A. Santly / Lester Santly)
  18. Mah Lindy Lou – (Lily Theresa Strickland)
  19. When I Grow Too Old to Dream – (Oscar Hammerstein II / Sigmund Romberg)
  20. When a Gypsy Makes His Violin Cry, arranged for violin & piano (after Emery Deutsch) (David Rubinoff)
  21. Dixie ("I Wish I Was in Dixie's Land"), song – (Daniel Decatur Emmett)
  22. I Only Have Eyes for You – (Harry Warren)
  23. Galway Bay – (Dr. Arthur Colahan)
  24. One Sunday Afternoon, song (for the film One Sunday Afternoon) – (Ralph Blane)
  25. Why can't you behave?, song (from "Kiss Me Kate") – (Cole Porter)
  26. Wunderbar, song (from "Kiss Me Kate") – (Cole Porter)
  27. Half a Heart, song – (Evelyn Danzig / Gordon Jenkins)