Without Stepping Stones

Monday, Monday so good to me. I was late to rise and although my laundry day I decided to give it a miss – laziness is no good unless encouraged. It was extremely cold outdoors, and ice covered the cars in the car park, not a morning for cycling. Still, Mrs Hubbard’s cupboard needed replenishing so off I went to Aldi, and I was thankful for my extra layers.   

Many, many years ago my big sister was courting Dave (later to become my brother-in-law) Dave was taking my sister to the cinema, where the new musical Rose Marie (screened in the mid-1950s) was being shown, a big treat, mum said to take Walter with them.

Going to the cinema was a big treat and I remember being very excited about it at the time. Unfortunately, it was not a movie for small boys and I soon became bored with the action on screen and started crawling around – collecting discarded tickets – the manager was called to the disturbance and my sister and her soon-to-be husband (along with my big sister’s delinquent wee brother) were evicted from the theatre. (I don’t believe my sister ever forgave me for that – for she would from that day forward, throw it back in my face).

Musicals were big throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s and the songs from the latest musical would be played to death on the radio too.

I remember going to see the Student Prince – really an operetta rather than a musical that MGM turned into a movie. Student Prince was a big hit in 1954 when I went along with members of the family to see its premiere, I was hooked. The voice was that of Mario Lanza although Edmund Purdom (a British actor) played the part of the Prince in the movie.

Lanza played Caruso in the movie ‘The Great Caruso’ staring alongside Ann Blyth, the song when you are in love hit the airwaves for weeks after the release of the movie, and you will never ever hear Ava Maria sung better than in The Great Caruso. 

The music and lyrics were all part of the concept of these movies and were always a bit special. I suppose, in a way, they were my initiation into the opera that I now love. I still have a good collection of musicals/operettas that I watch a lot. So when I saw Seven Brides for Seven Brothers would be shown on television (Sunday) I couldn’t pass it over.

The music and lyrics are not of the quality of Student Prince but the choreography is outstanding, I really enjoyed watching it once more. 

Howard Keel (with his rich deep voice) Jane Powell stared alongside him in seven brides for seven brothers. Keel again alongside Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your Gun, a comedy based on the life story of Annie Oakley, (Hutton unforgettable when she imitates Keel, putting on a deep voice – ‘the girl that I marry will have to be………..)

Keel once more this time with Doris Day in Calamity Jane, and what about the unforgettable, Kelly, O’Connor Reynolds combo in Singing in the rain by the time we get to The Sound of Music we have moved away from a film version of a stage show to proper movies in their own right.

Just a thought, maybe the reason that opera has become less appealing for the modern generation is that we have lost the operetta/musical stepping stones? 

Stay safe


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