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The Tattooed Man


A comic opera in 2 acts: Book by Harry B. Smith and A.N.C. Fowler; Lyrics by Harry B. Smith; Music by Victor Herbert

Criterion Theatre, New York - 18th February - 15th April, 1907 (59 perfs)


Omar Khayam, Jr. Omar rules Persia during the Shah's frequent absences. But he has a peculiar birthmark, and it has been decreed that if ever another man appears with the same mark both men must die together. Fatima, rebuffed by Omar, tattoos the mark on not one but two other men, and Omar must spend the rest of the evening designing ways to avoid the inevitable. Though he does avoid losing his head, he meets a fate worse than death when the returning Shah orders him to marry Fatima.

Musical Numbers


ACT I - Courtyard of the Regent's Palace in Persia.

  1. Opening Chorus - "Ah! The sunbeams drive the night away! Come to pray! Come to pray! Allah il Allah! ..."
  2. Quartette - Hashish, Muley, Yussuf and Ali - "As we through life are going, we must not be too knowing, to lots of things we have to close our eyes..."
  3. Entrance of Arabs, and Song - Abdallah - "Yaha! Yaha! Yaha! Trade with us if you like, cheat us too if you will. We take the money of Christian dogs..."
  4. Entrance of Omar - "Ah! Ah! Ah! Shout and sing, and laurels bring for our Regent Omar. Yes, rejoice with heart and voice to welcome him..."
  5. Song - Omar - "In Persia there once lived a sport very game, and Omar Khayyam was his curious name..."
  6. Chorus - "I've no doubt that you remember, if the years you scan, those fine mornings in September, when our school began..."
  7. Song - Abdallah and Girls - "Love laughs at lock-smiths, they say, in cottage or castle halls. Bars can't stay its way, and love always laughs at walls..."
  8. Song - Leila - "When the day is done, and the rest is won, then is slumber for you and me. And we sail away, in the twilight gray..."
  9. Finale Act I - "Noble strangers, give you greeting, 'tis indeed a joyous meeting. Each of you shall be a pet, I'm a friend of yours, you bet."

ACT II - The Rose Garden of the Shah of Persia.

  1. Opening
  2. Song - Abdallah - "Noble stranger! Gentle guest, pray take your ease. You have but to make request, and we will strive to please."
  3. Song - Leila and Chorus - "The Rose who was king of a garden so fair fell madly in love with a Lily belle rare. A princess was she, very stately and tall..."
  4. Trio - Omar, Abdallah and Leila - "There is a certain knack most people seem to lack in making love ... in making love..."
  5. Quartet - Hashish, Ali, Yussuf and Muley - "Work has always seemed an awful waste of time to me ... I have never wasted any time..."
  6. Song - Fatima - "I visited the circus once, and after it was through, I went into the side show, as a lot of people do..."
  7. Duet - Algy, Alma and Girls - "I have loved full many a girl who liked me fairly well; my first sweetheart's name was Pearl, my second's name was Belle..."
  8. Entrance of Shah - "Ah! Ah! Ah! Shout and sing, and laurels bring for our Regent Omar. Yes, rejoice with heart and voice to welcome him..."
  9. Song - Omar and Chorus - "Do you believe in fairies? For if you do, I'll tell about a land, a distant land where none but fairies dwell..." (4 verses)
  10. Finale Act II - "Sing fol de me lol to you, Omar Khayyam, as a jolly old rounder you were not a sham..."


  • Omar Khayam, Jr., astrologer, poet and sworn foe to temperance
  • Abdallah,'an'Arab chief
  • Algy Cuffs, a matinee idol
  • Hashish, janitor of the Shah's Harem
  • Muley, inspector of the mint
  • Ali, court nuisance
  • Yussuf, bad news specialist
  • The Shah (of Persia), who travels for his health until very late every evening
  • A Muezzin, who calls the people to prayer, but they don't come
  • Leila, beloved of Omar, but nothing doing
  • Alma, daughter of Omar
  • Fatima, a wall flower
  • Imported American Bridesmaids
    • Miss Vandergilt, of New York
    • Miss Penn of Philadelphia
    • Miss Lakeside of Chicago
    • Miss Beacon of Boston
    • Miss Bridge of Brooklyn
    • Miss Frisk of 'Frisco
    • Miss Vine of St. Louis
    • Miss Charles of Baltimore
    • Miss Mint of Washington
  • Omar's Four Wards (being translations of their Oriental names)
  • Star of Evening
  • Blush of Dawn
  • Rose of Summer
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Multi
  • Omar's Nephews, educated in American colleges
    • Ahmed
    • Selim
    • Hassan
    • Canem
  • Dancing Slaves
  • Snake Charmers

Scenes and settings

The action takes place at the present time in Persia.