Sing me the kind of song you hear in an operetta
On first listen, "In an Operetta" might seem like a trifle, but it's actually quite a clever song with several literary and musical references, twisted around into a sort of meta-Victorian plot. First off, Violetta is the main character in Verdi's opera La Traviata, first performed in 1853, a tragic story about a courtesan who faces disapproval when she falls in love with an aristocrat. The "cross-dressing female sailor" plot line was used in traditional Irish seafaring songs, and the most popular one, "The Handsome Cabin Boy," was covered by Kate Bush, Frank Zappa, and Jerry Garcia, among others. The protagonist of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, first serialized in the early 1860s, is an orphan named Pip, and the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance is centered around a band of orphaned pirates who are softies at heart.
Richard D'Oyly Carte was an important figure in the professional life of Gilbert and Sullivan, as he produced most of their operettas and built London's Savoy Theatre in 1881 for performances of their works. His D'Oyly Carte Opera Company is still around today, although they have ceased productions since May of 2003, waiting for better economic conditions. This week, two tracks performed by the Company are featured: "Never Mind the Why and Wherefore" from the nautical love story H.M.S. Pinafore and the spooky "When the Night Wind Howls" from the "supernatural opera" Ruddigore.
The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company - "When the Night Wind Howls"