Musical (1926)


Musique: Sigmund Romberg
Paroles: Otto Harbech
Livret: Frank Mandel • Oscar Hamerstein II • Otto Harbech
Production à la création:

French General Birabeau has been sent to Morocco to root out and destroy the Riffs, a band of Arab rebels, who threaten the safety of the French outpost in the Moroccan desert. Their dashing, daredevil leader is the mysterious "Red Shadow", a Frenchman. The Red Shadow, his Arab lieutenant, Sid El Kar, and their wealthy host, Ali Ben Ali, discuss the relative merits of the Eastern tradition of love for a harem of women (like having a garden full of fragrant flowers), and the Western ideal of loving one woman for life. Margot Bonvalet, a lovely, sassy French girl, is soon to be married at the French fort to Birabeau's right-hand man, Captain Fontaine. Birabeau's son Pierre, in reality the Red Shadow, loves Margot, but pretends to be a milksop to preserve his secret identity. Meanwhile Benny, a reporter, and the girl who loves him, Susan, provide comic relief.

Margot tells Pierre that she secretly yearns to be swept into the arms of some bold, dashing sheik, perhaps even the Red Shadow himself. Pierre, as the Red Shadow, kidnaps Margot and declares his love for her. To her surprise, Margot's mysterious abductor treats her with every western consideration. Benny and Susan are captured too. When the Red Shadow comes face to face with General Birabeau, the old man challenges the rebel leader to a duel. Of course Pierre will not kill his own father, so he refuses to fight, losing the respect of the Riffs. Azuri, the sinuous and secretive native dancing girl, who knows the secret of the Red Shadow's true identity, might be persuaded to reveal the information if she could capture the attention of Captain Fontaine. Eventually, the Red Shadow's identity is discovered, a deal is struck with the Riffs, and Pierre and Margot live happily ever after.


It was inspired by the 1925 uprising of the Riffs, a group of Moroccan fighters, against French colonial rule. It was also inspired by stories of Lawrence of Arabia aiding native guerrillas. Many tales romanticizing Arab North Africa were in vogue, including Beau Geste and The Son of the Sheik.

The leading man in the original Broadway production was Scottish baritone Richard Halliday and the heroine, Vivienne Segal. It was directed by Arthur Hurley and choreographed by Bobby Connolly, who was later to choreograph the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. In the 1927 London production at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane the leading roles were taken by Harry Welchman and Edith Day, and numerous excerpts were recorded with the London cast supported by the Drury Lane orchestra and chorus under conductor Herman Finck. The show was briefly revived on Broadway in 1946 (at New York City Center) and 1973.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Light Opera of Manhattan mounted the operetta several times. To celebrate the centennial of Romberg's birth in 1987, the New York City Opera staged a lavish production with Richard White and Linda Michele. Although very old-fashioned by present standards, and wildly improbable in its storyline, The Desert Song is still occasionally performed and has been made into a motion picture four times, though the second version was a short subject, rather than a feature-length film. All film versions were made by Warner Brothers.

In 1929, a lavish production was filmed, with Technicolor sequences and starring John Boles and Myrna Loy. This version was scrupulously faithful to and captured the spirit of the original Broadway production and became a huge hit. To capitalize on the success of the original picture, Warner Bros. Released a two-reel adaptation of the film in 1932 entitled The Red Shadow. By the 1940s, the original 1929 film had become illegal to view or exhibit in the United States due to its Pre-Code content which included sexual innuendo, lewd suggestive humor and open discussion of themes such as homosexuality. Apparently, the Technicolor sequences have survived only in black-and-white.

A second feature version was made in 1943, which was topically altered to have the hero fighting the Nazis. Filmed (entirely) in three-strip Technicolor, it starred Dennis Morgan and Irene Manning. A third color feature version was made in 1953, with most of the adult themes and humor being removed or "sanitized". This version altered the plot to make General Birabeau the father of Margot, rather than the father of the Red Shadow, as in the play. It starred Kathryn Grayson, Gordon MacRae and featured Allyn McLerie as Azuri. Both the 1943 and the 1953 films changed the hero's name from the Red Shadow to El Khobar. In the 1953 version, El Khobar's disguise was that of a mild-mannered Latin teacher who tutored Margot and had to fend off her amorous advances (which were fairly discreet by modern standards).

Another sanitized version was adapted for live television in 1955 (with Nelson Eddy, Gale Sherwood and Salvatore Baccaloni as Ali Ben Ali). One of the writers brought in to shorten and modernize some risque dialogue was the young Neil Simon.


Act I
High on a Hill – Sid and Riffs
The Riff Song – Pierre, Sid and Riffs
Ho, Bold Men of Morocco – Sid and Riffs (not in original Broadway production)
Margot – Paul and Soldiers
I'll be a Buoyant Girl – Susan
Why Did We Marry Soldiers? – Girls
French Military Marching Song – Margot and Chorus
Romance – Margot and Girls
Then You Will Know – Pierre and Margot
I Want a Kiss – Paul, Margot, Pierre and Chorus
It – Susan, Bennie and Girls (lyrics by Edward Smith)
The Desert Song – Pierre and Margot
Finale – Ensemble (includes Azuri's Dance)

Act II
My Little Castagnette – Clementina and Girls
Song of the Brass Key – Clementina and Girls
One Good Boy Gone Wrong – Benny and Clementina
Eastern and Western Love
a) Let Love Go – Ali and Riffs
b) One Flower in Your Garden – Sid and Riffs
c) One Alone – Pierre and Men
The Sabre Song – Margot
You Love Me – Pierre and Margot (not in original Broadway production)
Farewell and reprises – Pierre and Men
All Hail to the General – Margo, Paul, Birabeau and Girls
Let's Have a Love Affair – Susan, Bennie and Girls
Finale – Ensemble

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Desert Song (The)


Version 1

Desert Song (The) (1926-11-Casino Theatre-Broadway)

Type de série: Original
Théâtre: Casino Theatre (Bway) (Broadway - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 1 an 1 mois 1 semaine
Nombre : 471 représentations
Première Preview : mardi 30 novembre 1926
Première : mardi 30 novembre 1926
Dernière : samedi 07 janvier 1928
Mise en scène : Arthur Hurley
Chorégraphie : Bobby Connolly
Producteur :
Avec : Tatiana Amazar (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Florence Baker (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Albert Baron (Sergeant La Vergne), Helen Bourne (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Nellie BreenNat Broffman (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Eddie Buzzell (Benjamin Kidd), Marion Case (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Rachel May Clark (Neri), Edna Coates (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Albert Coiner (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Morton Croswell (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Glen Dale (Captain Paul Fontaine), John Daly (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Charles Davis (Sergeant DuBassac, Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Bobbe Decker (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Betty DeFest (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Jack Edwards (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), William Ehlers (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Vance Elliott (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Edmund Elton (General Birabeau), Lyle Evans (Ali Ben Ali), B. Flack (Servant of Birabeau, Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Grace Fleming (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Peter Flomp (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Beatrice Fox (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), William D. Galpen (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Nathan Goodman (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Blanche Granby (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Alan H. Green (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Robert Halliday (Pierre Birabeau), John Hammond (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Eileen Hargraves (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), E.A. Harker (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Betty Holmes (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Kathlyn Huss (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Margaret Irving (Clementina), Jack Kiernan (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Armand King (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Gladys Lake (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Elmira Lane (Ethel, Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Dorothy Lee (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), John Lister (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Betty Lomax (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Ethel Lorraine (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), June Lovewell (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Maude Lydiate (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Robey Lyle (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Mildred Mann (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Charles Mantia (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Gertrude McKinley (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Earle Mitchell (Hassi), Charles Morgan (Hadji), Gertrude Napp (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Z. Norman (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Patricia O'Connell (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), William O'Neal (Sid El Kar), Valerie Petrie (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Cornelius Pichler (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Elmer Pichler (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Pearl Regay (Azuri), Clementine Rigeau (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Victor Rosales (Servant of Birabeau, Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Rowena Scott (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Winifred Seale (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Vivienne Segal (Margot Bonvalet), Helen Shepard (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Morris Siegel (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Philip Snyder (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Jack Spiegel (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), George St. John (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), John Stanley (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Hilda Steiner (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Miriam Stockton (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Audree Van Lieu (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), O. J. Vanasse (Mindar), Talbot Vaughn (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Bernice Walder (French Girl/Spanish Cabaret Girl), Harold Westcott (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band), Almajane Wilday (Soldier's Wife/Lady of the Brass Key), Raymond Winfield (Soldier of the French Legion/Member of the Red Shadow's Band)

Version 2

Desert Song (The) (1927-04-Drury Lane Theatre-London)

Type de série: Original London
Théâtre: Drury Lane Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 1 an 1 semaine
Nombre : 432 représentations
Première Preview : jeudi 07 avril 1927
Première : jeudi 07 avril 1927
Dernière : samedi 14 avril 1928
Mise en scène : Laurence Schwab
Chorégraphie : Bobby Connolly
Producteur :
Avec : Edith Day (Margot), Harry Welchman (Pierre Birabeau), Gene Gerrard (Bennie Kidd), Phoebe Brune (Azuri), Sidney Pointer (Sid El Kar), Barry Mackaye (Capt Paul Fontaine), Maria Minetti (Clementina), Clarice Hardwicke (Susan)
Commentaires : La première à Londres a connu un grand succès et a mené à trois reprises dans les années 1930, puis en 1943 et 1967.

Version 3

Desert Song (The) (1929-04-Film)

Type de série: Film
Théâtre: *** Film (*** - ***)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : lundi 08 avril 1929
Première : lundi 08 avril 1929
Dernière : lundi 08 avril 1929
Mise en scène : Roy Del Ruth
Chorégraphie : ???? ????
Producteur :

Version 4

Desert Song (The) (1942-??-Paper Mill Playhouse-Milburn)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Paper Mill Playhouse (Milburn - Etats-Unis)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : Inconnu
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Victor Morley
Chorégraphie : ???? ????
Producteur :
Avec : Avec: Rosemarie Brancato et Donald Gage

Version 5

Desert Song (The) (1943-??-Film)

Type de série: Film
Théâtre: *** Film (*** - ***)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : Inconnu
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Leo Forbstein
Chorégraphie : ???? ????
Producteur :
Avec : Avec: Dennis Morgan, Irene Manning, Bruce Cabot, Victor Francen, Lynne Overman, Gene Lockhart, Faye Emerson

Version 6

Desert Song (The) (1946-01-New York City Center-New York)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: New York City Center (Broadway - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 1 mois 1 semaine
Nombre : 45 représentations
Première Preview : mardi 08 janvier 1946
Première : mardi 08 janvier 1946
Dernière : samedi 16 février 1946
Mise en scène : Sterling Halloway
Chorégraphie : Aida Broadbent
Producteur :
Avec : Azuri … Clarissa
Mardi … Barbara Bailey
Clementina … Jean Bartel
Ali Ben Ali … George Burnson
Pierre Birabeau … Walter Cassel
Sid El Kar … Richard Charles
Captain Paul Fontaine … Wilton Clary
Sergeant La Vergne … Joseph Claudio

Version 7

Desert Song (The) (1953-??-Film)

Type de série: Film
Théâtre: *** Film (*** - ***)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : Inconnu
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Ray Heindorf
Chorégraphie : ???? ????
Producteur :
Avec : Avec: Gordon MacRae, Kathryn Grayson, Steve Cochran, Raymond Massey, Dick Weston, Allyn McLerie, Ray Collins

Version 8

Desert Song (The) (1967-05-Palace Theatre-London)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Palace Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : samedi 13 mai 1967
Première : samedi 13 mai 1967
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : ???? ????
Chorégraphie : ???? ????
Producteur :
Avec : Sid El Kar … Dermod Gloster
Hadji … J. Colin Dudley
Neri … Rae Armond
Benjamin Kidd … Tony Hughes
Captain Paul Fontaine … Raymond Duparc
Margot Bonvalet … Patricia Michael
General Birabeau … Martin Carroll
Pierre Birabeau … John Hanson
Susan … Doreen Kay
Edith … Joanna Young
Azuri … Lita Scott
Ali Ben Ali … George Hancock
Clementina … Carol Dorée
Mindar … Arnold Chazen
Hassi … Victor Flattery
Lieutenant La Vergne … Chris Robson
Sergeant De Boussac … Robert Crane

Version 9

Desert Song (The) (1973-09-Uris Theatre-Broadway)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Gershwin Theatre (Broadway - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 1 semaine
Nombre : 1 previews - 15 représentations
Première Preview : mardi 04 septembre 1973
Première : mercredi 05 septembre 1973
Dernière : dimanche 16 septembre 1973
Mise en scène : Henry Butler
Chorégraphie : David Nillo
Producteur :
Avec : Neri … Ruby Greene Aspinall
Margot Bonvalet … Chris Callan
Lt. Danvage … Kent Cottam
Pierre Birabeau … David Cryer
Edith … Osceola Davis
Benjamin Kidd … Jerry Dodge
Hadji … Dick Ensslen
Captain Paul Fontaine … Stanley Grover
Ali Ben Ali … Michael Kermoyan
Sergeant De Boussac … William Leyerle
Sid El Kar … John Ribecchi
Azuri … Gloria Rossi
Palace Guard … Frederick Sampson III
Hassi … Nicholas Scarpinati, Mandingo Shaka
General Birabeau … Shepperd Strudwick
Susan … Britt Swanson
Clementina … Gloria Zaglool

Version 10

Desert Song (The) (1984-05-Paper Mill Playhouse-Milburn)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Paper Mill Playhouse (Milburn - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 1 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : mercredi 02 mai 1984
Première : mercredi 02 mai 1984
Dernière : dimanche 10 juin 1984
Mise en scène : ???? ????
Chorégraphie : ???? ????
Producteur :
Avec : Avec: Keith Ryan, Kenneth Kantor, Philip William McKinley, Roy Alan Wilson, Lillian Graff, Judith McCauley, John Anania, Richard White, Ira Hawkins

 Pas encore de video disponible pour ce spectacle


1) 1927-04-Original London Cast
2) 1944-??-Studio Cast