Program Notes

2005 Spring – The Student Prince – Romberg

The Student Prince by Sigmund Romberg

Most authorities agree that `operetta’ existed as a transitional phase for about 100 years, roughly from 1840 to 1940. It was fledged from grand opera, and was ultimately transformed into musical theater, a less structured medium. The Viennese dramas of Lehar and Johann Strauss Jr. were the acme of operetta; and they were exported to America along with those who would transform them, including Victor Herbert, Sigmund Romberg, and the Gershwins. Romberg, a Hungarian who had abandoned engineering studies in favor of the lush Viennese musical scene, came to New York in 1909, aged 22, to seek his fortune, and was soon employed by the impresario Jacob Shubert-rewriting European operettas for American tastes! Romberg, in some cases, found it expedient to add numbers, as well as changing lyrics, and in 1924 provided an entire operetta of his own-The Student Prince, based on a German play, Old Heidelberg;. Lyrics for this show were supplied by Dorothy Donnelly (and, as evident in our medley, express American, rather than European, attitudes). The work was an immediate success and Romberg produced new works, including movie scores, into the late 1930’s. His only post-WWII show, Up in Central Park, was also his last, and he died in New York in 1951.

The story of the Student Prince can be found here.

J. R. Fancher, Mar. 2005