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The chapter narrates the history of operetta in Berlin. Compared to Paris, London and Vienna, Berlin was a latecomer when it came to popular musical theatre. The first operettas performed here were successes from other cities. However, in the last year of the nineteenth century, Berlin saw the beginning of a homegrown operetta industry with the success of Paul Lincke’s Frau Luna. As elsewhere, operetta was intimately connected with its locale, performed in the Berlin accent, reflecting on life in the city and inventing and popularizing local characters. This was just as true for the new generation of composers. Yet, their success abroad increasingly turned operetta into an international commodity. Berlin operettas were played in Paris, London, New York and many other cities around the globe until World War I put a stop to such cosmopolitanism. After the war, Berlin replaced Vienna as the operetta capital. The chapter ends with the rise of National Socialism, which spelt exile and death for the Jewish composers, directors and actors, without whom Berlin operetta would not have been possible. By reconstructing this story, the chapter rediscovers what once was a thriving and genuinely popular culture.
It was exciting, no doubt, to watch silent films to the accompaniment of musical excerpts played by cinema orchestras, but the 1930s gave audiences the chance to see stars sing and act. That decade consequently offers valuable historical insight into vocal practice and performance technique. This chapter begins with an overview of freshly created screen operettas and of films adapting stage operettas. It briefly examines Die Drei von der Tankstelle (1930) and other German films, before moving to British and American films. The demands of film are contrasted with techniques required in the theatre. The chapter then looks at the practice of adaptation in Hollywood, and it ends with a discussion of the operetta Heimat film in Germany.
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