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The piece was first produced in 1929 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London, running for a very successful 967 performances. There was a brief Broadway production the same year. Short on memorable Cowardian dialogue, Bitter Sweet nonetheless contains some of Coward's best music, and several recordings of the score are available on CD. The piece has been popular with amateur operatic societies, but there have been few major professional revivals. The operetta was filmed twice, in 1933 in black-and-white (in Britain, with Anna Neagle and Fernand Gravet in the leading roles) and in 1940 in Technicolor by MGM, starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. In both cases, the score was heavily cut. Coward disliked the much-rewritten 1940 film and vowed that no more of his plays would be filmed in Hollywood.
Although popular with amateur operatic societies, Bitter Sweet has had relatively few professional productions. The original production in 1929 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London starred Peggy Wood as Sarah, with Georges Metaxa as Carl. Ivy St. Helier played Manon, and the role of the aged Marquis of Shayne was played by the 26-year-old Alan Napier, later to gain fame as Batman's butler, Alfred, in the 1960s (both repeated their roles in the 1933 film). Evelyn Laye had been the first choice to play Sarah, but turned it down as she was annoyed with the producer, C. B. Cochran, who she felt had caused her marriage to actor Sonnie Hale to fail by putting him in a show opposite Jessie Matthews, with whom he had an affair. Laye soon played the part on Broadway, however, later in 1929, alongside Gerald Nodin as Carl and Desmond Jeans as Captain Lutte. This production lasted for 159 performances. A brief Broadway revival played in 1934, starring Evelyn Herbert and Allan Jones.
An abridged studio recording was made in 1961, featuring Adele Leigh, James Pease and Susan Hampshire. A revival at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, in the early 1980s with Jan Hartley-Morris as Sarah led to a large-scale revival in London which also toured the provinces in 1988. This New Sadler's Wells Opera production by Ian Judge used a revised orchestration by Michael Reed, and was recorded complete (although without dialogue) by TER (That's Entertainment Records). On stage, Valerie Masterson and Ann Mackay alternated in the major leading part of Sarah, with Martin Smith as Carl and Rosemary Ashe as Manon. Valerie Masterson was chosen to record the role.
The St. Louis Municipal Opera ("the Muny") presented numerous productions of Bitter Sweet between 1933 and 1953 as well as one in 1974. The Long Beach Civic Light Opera in Southern California staged a celebrated production of Bitter Sweet in 1983 starring Shirley Jones as Sarah/Sari/Marchioness, and the Ohio Light Opera produced Bitter Sweet in 1993 and 1998.
• That Wonderful Melody – Singer and Dancing Chorus
• The Call of Life – The Marchioness of Shayne and Chorus
• If You Could Only Come with Me – Carl Linden
• I'll See You Again – Sarah Millick and Carl
• Tell Me What is Love? – Sarah and Chorus
• The Last Dance – The Marquis of Steere, Lord Edgar James, Lord Sorrel, Mr. Vale, Mr. Bethel, Mr. Proutie, Victoria, Harriet, Gloria, Honor, Jane and Effie
• Life in the Morning – Waiters and Cleaners
• Ladies of the Town – Lotte, Freda, Hansi and Gussie
• If Love Were All – Manon
• Evermore and a Day – Sari Linden
• Dear Little Café – Sari and Carl
• Bitter Sweet Waltz
• We Wish to Order Wine –
• Tokay – Carl, Officers and Chorus
• Bonne Nuit, Merci – Manon
• Kiss me – Manon and Chorus
• Tara-ra boom-de-ay (by Henry J. Sayers) – Wealthy and noble couples of London
• Alas! The Time is Past – The Duchess of Tenterton, Lady James, Mrs. Proutie, Lady Sorrel, Mrs. Vale and Mrs. Bethel
• We All Wear a Green Carnation – Bertram Sellick, Lord Henry Jade, Vernon Craft and Cedrick Ballantyne
• Zigeuner – Sari
• I'll See You Again (reprise) – Sari
The Noël Coward Society's website, drawing on performing statistics from the publishers and the Performing Right Society, ranks "I'll See You Again" and "If Love Were All" as among Coward's ten most popular songs. "Dear Little Café" is among the top twenty.
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Bitter Sweet (1929-07-His Majesty's Theatre-Londres)Type de série: Original
Théâtre: Her Majesty's Theatre (Londres - Angleterre) Durée : 1 an 7 mois 2 semaines Nombre : 728 représentationsPremière Preview : InconnuPremière : jeudi 18 juillet 1929Dernière : samedi 28 février 1931Mise en scène : Chorégraphie : Avec : Claude Farrow, Dorothy Bond, William Harn, Billy Milton, Peggy Wood, Alan Napier, George Metaxa, Ivy St Helier, Isla Bevan, Austin Trevor, Robert Newton, Nancy Bevill, Maureen Moore, Arthur AlexanderCommentaires : Transféré au Palace Theatre du 2/3/1934 au 21/3/1931En savoir plus sur cette version
Bitter Sweet (1929-11-Ziegfield Theatre-Broadway)Type de série: Original Broadway
Théâtre: Ziegfield Theatre (Broadway - Etats-Unis) Durée : 3 mois 1 semaine Nombre : Première Preview : InconnuPremière : mardi 05 novembre 1929Dernière : samedi 15 février 1930Mise en scène : Noël Coward • Chorégraphie : Avec : Commentaires : Transférfé au Shubert Theatre (17/2/1930 > 22/3/1930)En savoir plus sur cette version
Bitter Sweet (1988-02-Sadler's Wells Theatre-London)Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Sadler's Wells (Londres - Angleterre) Salle : TheatreDurée : Nombre : 28 représentationsPremière Preview : InconnuPremière : jeudi 25 février 1988Dernière : InconnuMise en scène : Ian Judge • Chorégraphie : Lindsay Dolan • Avec : Valerie Masterson/Ann McKay (Sarah Millick), Martin Smith (Carl Linden), Rosemary Ashe (Manon), Clive Walton (Vincent Howard), Rupert Vansittart (Hugh Devon), Rachel Izen (Gussi), Alec Bregonzi (Marquis ofShayne), Gordon Sandison (Capt. Schenzi)Commentaires : The original London production was at His Majesty’s Theatre, July 12th 1929 where it ran for 697 performances with a cast including American actress, Peggy Wood, and Georges Metaxa, Billy Milton and Robert Newton. This was its first London revival in almost 60 years.En savoir plus sur cette version
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