• Study Days
    • Study Day 1

      Study Day 1

      School of Music, University of Leeds, 27 February 2015

      Derek Scott described how the project came about and what it was designed to achieve:

      In 2012, I was invited to contribute to an AHRC funded project “West End and Friedrichstraße: Cross-cultural Exchange” hosted by Goldsmiths, London, and the Freie Universität, Berlin. I spoke at a conference in Berlin, and was later contracted to write a chapter for the book of essays that formed part of the research dissemination of the findings of the project (the publisher was Cambridge University Press). This initial work spurred me on to apply for an ERC Advanced Grant in order to do justice to the neglected area of the cultural transfer of twentieth-century operetta from the German stage—often called Silver-Age operetta—to London and New York. I have been researching operetta, and writing on this form of urban entertainment for many years (with publications in 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011). I was, therefore, very conscious that operetta of the nineteenth century was under-researched, and operetta of the twentieth century almost completely ignored by musicologists (although this is beginning to change). When it came to the question of cultural transmission, there was no musicological study whatsoever of the cultural transfer of German operetta to London and New York and the transformation that took place in the creation of English adaptations. This is even more remarkable when the number of new productions during 1907–37 is considered, and that many of these operettas were performed night after night on stages in the West End and Broadway for a year or more.

      Operetta production began to decline after 1933; from late in that year it had to conform to the Goebbels regime. Emmerich Kálmán, Oscar Straus, Jean Gilbert, and Paul Abraham all left Germany to avoid Nazi persecution. Ralph Benatzky and Robert Stolz, neither of whom were Jewish, left of their own accord. Others were not unaffected: Eduard Künneke was to discover that the producer of his operetta Liselott (1932) had been murdered in 1933. The most successful operetta of the Third Reich era was perhaps Fred Raymond’s Maske in Blau (1937).

      In London and New York, musical revues, the newer Broadway musicals, sound film (and film musicals), social dancing and dance bands, radio and records were all contributing to the demise of operetta in the 1930s. Also eating away at the German style were the syncopated African-American rhythms from the USA (the cultural threat of which surfaces in some operettas, for instance, Kálmán’s Die Herzogin von Chicago). Some composers of German operetta were adopting American elements (Künneke, Abraham), but at other times the influence from Broadway crept into the music in a less conscious way. It seems unlikely that Azuri’s Dance, “Soft as a Pigeon Lights upon the Sand,” from Act 1 of The Desert Song, was not lurking somewhere in Lehár’s mind when he wrote the final scene of Giuditta. A final blow for operetta in London came with the closure of Daly’s in 1937 and the Gaiety in 1938.

      The project GOLNY is ground breaking because there exists very little academic work that subjects German operettas of this period to criticism, or that analyzes their music in any detail, and no study exists of their West End or Broadway transformations. There are a few sociological and historical studies of British and American musical comedy (Bailey 1996, Mates 1985, Platt 2004), a few German studies touching on operette of this period (Clarke 2011, Dömeland 2004, Linhardt 2009), and Stefan Frey’s important biographies of Lehár, Kálmán, and Fall (1995, 2003, 2010). There are also some general studies, mainly of a cataloguing nature, of American musicals and European light opera. Academic attention has focused, instead, on America’s influence on European stage works and there has been no rigorous scholarly study of the cultural transfer of German operetta to Britain and the USA. Yet, dozens of these operettas were produced in the West End and on Broadway, and their significance to musical life of the period 1907–37 is undeniable. Nobody has examined the musical adaptations and transformations, which provide significant insight into the similarities and differences of cultural concerns, values and priorities that existed in Austria, Germany, Britain and the USA during this period. The changes made for British and American productions not only involved textual and dramatic changes (e.g. of character, or of scene), but also musical changes (e.g. a duet becomes a solo, or new numbers are interpolated). All this can lead to perplexing complications, and a clear sign of scholarly neglect of this musical field is the confusion that reigns in books and web sites over the various British and American versions of Berthé’s Das Dreimäderlhaus.

      Because operetta has been a research interest of mine for so long (I have even composed an operetta, Wilberforce), I have acquired a number of period vocal scores. One of the most important among these is the personal copy of Das Dreimäderlhaus owned by the English composer George Clutsam, who arranged Berté’s original work for the London stage. The German vocal score contains his pencilled annotations and comments, and these provide insight into the way Clutsam adapted certain numbers (sometimes even changing the original metre).

      As part of the project, digitized copies of vocal scores that are now in the public domain will be made available on the project web site. The web site will also contain some twenty digitized vocal scores of London and/or New York adaptations of German operettas with information about the various transformations these works have undergone. This will be useful to both German and Anglo-American opera companies, because the original composer often added extra numbers for productions in London or New York.

      The key points that made this project feasible were as follows. There are good arguments historical period 1907–38 (from the sensational success of The Merry Widow in London and New York to the decline of operetta following the Goebbels regime, the emigration of important Jewish composers of operetta, and the closure of two important operetta theatres in the London). There has been past neglect of this aspect of mainstream culture, but there is now growing interest because of lapsed copyright, which has encouraged releases of period recordings and radio broadcasts, and reprinting of old vocal scores.

      The project is also expected to have social impact. Research could stimulate this market academically and economically. Some opera companies are already adding operetta to their repertoire (Opera North, Leeds, Canadian Opera, Toronto), while others have continuity in performing them (Volksoper, Vienna, the Komische Oper, Berlin). New operas struggle, but new musicals have a thriving environment in Europe. Operetta may be thought to fall somewhere between the two. The project is intended to preserve and emphasize the value of a neglected area of European culture. The resources generated by the project are intended for scholars, professional practitioners and, in the case of the web site, are also intended to offer an educational and information resource for the general public.

      A presentation was then given by Anastasia Belina, who holds to position of Senior Research Fellow on the project. Her field of research is Silver-Age operetta in Warsaw.

      There followed a presentation by Corey Benson on the design of the project web site. This site will contain information about the project and its findings, but one of its main purposes is to make available public domain images (e.g. photographs) and music (e.g. vocal scores) available to students and researchers. This material will be downloadable for reproduction in academic publications, and thus help scholars to avoid a problem that currently creates a great deal of difficulty, the imposition of expensive permissions costs for figures and musical examples by many libraries (e.g. the British Library, Pierpont Morgan, NY). A Digitization Officer, Melissa Gallimore, has been appointed to work on the project. She has experience in handling fragile documents, and this skill is necessary given the condition of some of the vocal scores and flimsy items such as programmes.

      The web pages are hosted on a University of Leeds WordPress site, which can be edited and added to easily. This will allow the Research Assistant to take responsibility for its maintenance and updating, until a web design specialist is again brought in towards the end of the project to ensure it functions with maximum efficiency.

      The Study Day included the showing of excerpts of early operetta films, and there was an exhibition of vocal scores, programmes and other material in three display cabinets for visitors to peruse. All items were accompanied by descriptive information. Of particular interest to visitors from Leeds was a display of old posters advertising productions of silver-age operettas at the Grand Theatre.

    • Study Day 2

      Study Day 2

    • Study Day 3

      ‘Gaiety, Glitz and Glamour: Reawakening the “Silver Age” of twentieth-century Operetta’

      ‘Gaiety, Glitz and Glamour: Reawakening the “Silver Age” of twentieth-century Operetta’ – Read the article here.

      RMA Study Day Operatta Timetable – View the pdf.

      Royal Musical Association – Institute for Musical Research Study Day.
      In affiliation with the German Operetta in London and New York, 1907–1939: Cultural Transfer and Transformation (GOLNY) project, funded by the European Research Council, headed by Derek B Scott (Leeds) and Anastasia Belina (Royal College of Music).

      Location: Senate House, University of London, on Saturday 14 October 2017, 10:00–16:30



      10:00 Registration

      10:30 Welcome

      10:45 Guest Speaker – John Snelson, Head of Publications, Royal Opera House – Adaptations of German-language operetta for the West End stage and their influence on British operetta

      11:15  Valeria De Lucca (University of Southampton): ‘Die lustige Witwe in Italy: Assimilation and Critical Response’

      11:45 Katie L. Gardner (University of Oxford): ‘Die Zirkusprinzessin and the Transmational Cultural Imagination of the Traditional Circus Performer’



      14:15 Interview with Tobias Becker, German Historical Institute, London: ‘Cultural transfer between the musical stages of Berlin and London’

      14:45 Judith Wiemers (Queen’s University Belfast): ‘“Das ist der Black Walk” – American motifs in Paul Abraham’s 1930s operettas and their adaptation for the screen’


      15:15 Stefanie Arend (University of Oxford): ‘The Congress Dances (1932): Eric Charell’s Operetta Extravaganza on Screen’


      15:45 Study session on researching operetta and musical comedy: Sources, archives, and methodologies

      16:30 End.


      Participation is free but please register by emailing Stephanie Jones (email) and Melissa Gerber-Venter (email) by 1 October 2017, for catering purposes.



    • RMA

      RMA – Call for Proposals

      RMA-IMR Study Day Operetta Call for Papers

  • Workshops
    • Workshop 1

      Workshop and Concert

      Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall, University of Leeds, 11 November 2015

      Compere for concert: Derek B. Scott
      Pianist: Duncan Boutwood

      Many people think first of music-hall songs as typical music of the War. While not neglecting the music hall, this concert also features other popular music of the time: drawing- room ballads, musical comedy numbers and, perhaps surprisingly, music from English adaptations of German operettas.

      Operetta items:

      The Picture Palace Queen

      Sung by Kate Stevens

      The song is from the operetta The Cinema Star, produced at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, in June 1914. The composer was Jean Gilbert (real name, Max Winterfeld). Georg Okonkowski and Julius Freund wrote the original book and lyrics for the Berlin production of 1913. The English adaptation was by Jack Hulbert, and the lyrics were by Harry Graham (with additional lyrics by Percy Greenbank).

      The Cobbler’s Song

      Sung by Bryan White.

      Baba Mustapha’s song in Act 3 of Chu Chin Chow, produced at His Majesty’s Theatre, London, in August 1916. The book and lyrics were by Oscar Asche, the music by Frederic Norton.

      My Motter

      Sung by Martin.

      Doody’s song (words by Arthur Wimperis, music by Howard Talbot) from Act 2 of The Arcadians. This musical comedy was first produced at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1909, and was revived there in May 1915. The book was by Mark Ambient and Alexander Thompson, the lyrics by Arthur Wimperis, and the music by Lionel Monckton and Howard Talbot.

      Anytime’s Kissing Time

      Sung by Kate Stevens.

      This is Alcolom’s song in Act 2 of Chu Chin Chow.

      The Happy Marriage

      Sung by Jasmine Munns and Chris Pelly.

      Duet from Jean Gilbert’s operetta The Girl in the Taxi, produced at the Lyric Theatre in September 1912, and revived in November 1913. Remarkably, given that hostilities with German had commenced, it was revived again at the Garrick Theatre in January 1915.

      The English version was by by Frederick Fenn and Arthur Wimperis (after Die keusche Susanne by Georg Okonkowski and Alfred Schönfeld, produced in Magdeburg in 1910).


      Sing by Emily Higgins with full chorus.

      Song with Chorus, from Gilbert’s The Girl in the Taxi, Act 2.

      Finale, Act 2, of Gilbert’s The Cinema Star.

      Louise sung by Kate Stevens.

      Victor sung by Chris Pelly.

      Phyllis sing by Jasmine Munns.

      Clarence sung by Robert Upton.

      Billy sung by Bryan White.

      Mrs Clutterbuck sung by Emily Higgins.

      Clutterbuck sung by Martin.

      Full chorus.

    • Workshop 2

      Workshop 2

      Operetta Workshop

      Royal College of Music, London, 21 April 2016 – 13.00-15.00, RCM, Inner Parry Room

      Entry is free and includes free lunch

      dollarprincessThis workshop will introduce GOLNY (German Operetta in London and New York: 1905-1937: Cultural Transfer and Transformation), a research project undertaken by Dr Anastasia Belina (RCM) and Professor Derek B Scott (University of Leeds), funded by the European Research Council.
      In the beginning of the nineteenth-century operetta was one of the most extravagant theatrical attractions, and productions from Vienna and Berlin travelled all over Europe. London, New York, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Budapest, and Warsaw were the cities where operetta was a big business, drawing in diverse crowds. Dances and melodies from Viennese and Berliner operettas became huge hits, and were sold in popular editions for home music-making.
      In 1906, the manager of the Gaiety and Daly’s Theatre in London, George Edwardes, brought Franz Lehár’s Die lustige Witwe (Vienna, 1905; Berlin, 1906) to Daly’s Theatre as The Merry Widow in 1907 and it ran for a remarkable 778 performances. The success of this work opened up the possibility of a flourishing market for German operetta. What Edwardes meant to do, however, was to stage Leo Fall’s operetta The Dollar Princess, which had a hugely successful run of 428 consecutive performances. Today, The Dollar Princess is one of the most neglected Silver-Age operettas, and this workshop will aim to bring its music back to the audiences.
      Postgraduate students from the Royal College of Music will take part in an open workshop, dedicated to the performance of the second-act quartet.

      13.00-13.20 Introduction to the GOLNY project and to Leo Fall’s operetta The Dollar Princess by Dr Anastasia Belina and Professor Derek Scott.

      13.20-15.00 The Quartet from The Dollar Princess: open workshop

      Dr Anastasia Belina (RCM), Director
      Tim Evans Jones (RCM), Vocal Specialist
      Mary Ellen Beaudreau, Choreographer
      Nico de Villiers (Guildhall School of Music and Drama), Piano
      Samuel Oram (RCM), as Freddy
      Jennifer Coleman (RCM), as Daisy
      Anna Cavaliero (RCM), as Alice
      Ben Smith (RCM), as Quorn

    • Workshop 3

      Workshop 3

      Silver-Age Operetta Workshop

      19 January 2017, 14.00-16.00, RCM, East Parry Room

      Free entry but booking required

      This study day is part of GOLNY (German Operetta in London, New York, and Warsaw: 1906-1938: Cultural Transfer and Transformation), a research project undertaken by Dr Anastasia Belina (RCM) and Professor Derek B Scott (University of Leeds), funded by the European Research Council.

      14.00-14.45  Silver-Age Operetta: The Power of an Early Twentieth-Century Transcultural Entertainment Industry, Professor Derek Scott.
      14.45-15.15  Tea break
      15.15-16.00 Operetta in Early Twentieth-Century Warsaw, Dr Anastasia Belina. This talk will be illustrated with performances of some of the most popular operetta numbers, sung in Polish.
      Ana Šinkovec-Burstin – Piano
      Klaudia Magdon – Voice

      Silver-Age Operetta: The Power of an Early 20th-Century Transcultural Entertainment Industry

      Derek Scott

      During the first three decades of the twentieth century, a music industry that had already been growing for more than fifty years became transnational and, in some of its activities, global. Studies of this period have a tendency to focus on the significance of the music business in New York, especially Broadway and Tin Pan Alley, and neglect the importance of a transcultural operetta industry emanating from Berlin. For some time, it was unclear whether Broadway or Berlin’s Friederichstraße would carry the greatest influence over the world’s musical stages. This presentation explains why.
      The picture below shows Lily Elsie as Franzi, leader of the women’s orchestra in A Waltz Dream (Oscar Straus), wearing a dress by London fashion designer Lucile. Operetta was always closely linked to the fashion industry. In Germany, the critic Theodor Adorno commented that the long dresses he saw women wearing “looked as if they had been stolen from operettas.”


      Operetta in Early Twentieth-Century Warsaw

      Anastasia Belina

      In the beginning of the twentieth century, operetta was a hugely popular theatrical attraction, and productions from Vienna and Berlin travelled all over Europe. Silver -Age operetta enjoyed great successes in Poland, where opera and operetta houses in Warsaw, Krakow, and Łódź regularly presented works by Lehár, Kálmán, Fall, Abraham, Nedbal, and others. There is no English-language study on how operetta developed in Warsaw, and no study exists in any language, to date, on the actual adaptations of German operettas in Poland. This talk will present an overview of operetta scene in early twentieth-century Warsaw, Polish transformations and adaptations of popular works, and famous Polish operetta stars and their successes with the Polish public. The talk is illustrated with rare archival material and live performances of selected operetta numbers in Polish.




  • Conferences

    Anastasia Belina, “German Silver Age Operetta in Warsaw” (guest lecture), & Derek B. Scott, two invited lectures on operetta. 2nd Symposium, Ohio Light Opera Festival, Wooster, Ohio, USA, 28–31 July 2015.

    Anastasia Belina & Derek B. Scott, Celebrity in Operetta. OBERTO conference, Oxford, UK, 8 September 2015.

    Derek B. Scott, “Cosmopolitan Musicology.” (Keynote) 17th Nordic Musicological Congress, Aalborg, Denmark, 11–14 August 2015.

    Operetta Panel, “The Reception of Silver Age Operetta in the UK, Germany, Hungary and Poland.” Royal Musical Association, Annual Conference, University of Birmingham, 9–11 September 2015.

    Anastasia Belina & Derek B. Scott, “Jewish Creative Artists and the Development of Operetta as Cosmopolitan Genre.” Exoticism, Orientalism and National Identity in Musical Theatre, Institute of Musicology, Budapest, Hungary, 11–12 December 2015.

    Derek B. Scott, “The Hidden Theatre Musicians of Early 20th-Century London.” (Keynote) Hidden Musicians Symposium, Open University, Milton Keynes, 11–12 January 2016.

    Derek B. Scott, “J. Strauss Jr & 19th-Century Operetta as Intermedial Art World.” (Keynote) Symposium: Worlds Within Works of Art. Helsinki, Finland, 28–29 January 2016.

    Derek B. Scott, “Silver-Age Operetta: The Power of an Early 20th Century Transcultural Entertainment Industry.” Popular Music and Power, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 23–25 June 2016.

    Anastasia Belina, “German Operetta in Warsaw: Cultural Transfer and Exchange.” Music History and Cosmopolitanism, Helsinki, Finland, May 2016.

    Anastasia Belina, “Operetta and Modernity.” Talk for Music and Ideas series at the Royal College of Music, London, November 2016.

    Derek B. Scott, “A Forgotten Transcultural Entertainment Industry.” European Research Music Conference, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, 12 Jun. 2018.

    Watch here on YouTube:


  • Int’l Conference

    Gaiety, Glitz and Glamour, or Dispirited Historical Dregs?  A Re-evaluation of Operetta

    Thursday 10 January – Saturday 12 January 2019
    School of Music, University of Leeds
    Deadline for Submissions: 15 September 2018

    An international conference in affiliation with the project German Operetta in London, New York and Warsaw, 1906–1939 (GOLNY), funded by the European Research Council.

    In 1903, in an early attempt to write a critical history of operetta, Erich Urban perceived a common thread linking international manifestations of operetta. He was optimistic about its future, insisting that operetta had its own justification, meaning and history. Barely thirty years later, Theodor Adorno condemned operetta as a musical genre containing only dispirited historical dregs. In recent years, operetta has enjoyed renewed interest among musicologists in various countries. This conference aims to reassess operetta and engage with present scholarship.

    We warmly invite proposals relating to nineteenth- and twentieth-century operetta, on topics such as:

    • Operettas and social and moral values
    • Audience reception of operetta
    • The transfer and adaptation of operetta across borders
    • Operetta and politics
    • The business of operetta
    • Screen operettas
    • New possibilities for operetta as more of its music enters the public domain

    The keynote speaker will be Kevin Clarke, author, broadcaster, and director of the Operetta Research Center Amsterdam.

    Abstracts of 300 words should be sent by 15 September 2018 to Derek B. Scott or Anastasia Belina

    Please include your name and affiliation (or independent status). Notification of acceptance will be sent by 31 October 2018.

    Reading Committee

    Micaela Baranello (University of Arkansas)

    Anastasia Belina (Royal College of Music, London)

    Lisa Feurzeig (Grand Valley State University, Michigan)

    Valeria De Lucca (University of Southampton)

    Anne Kauppala (Sibelius Academy, Helsinki)

    Matthias Kauffmann (Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen)

    Clair Rowden (University of Cardiff)

    Derek B. Scott (University of Leeds)

    Conference Call for Papers

    For further information see: