Those Magnificent Ladies


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sashka pozzetti

Guest
I read the beginning of this thread and it doesnt mention Percy Anderson who made some of the most famous Merry Widow clothes. I looked at the programme I have, and he designed all the costumes for the second act which Lily Elsie wore when she sang the most famous song, Vilya. It is really beautiful to hear, and I expect people on the Titanic could be heard humming it every now and then, as the Merry Widow was being played by the orchestra. I don't know what else Percy Anderson designed but Lucile and him made an amazing partnership.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Am now going wild to find the rest of the lyrics. This is a job for my man , Godfrey! What comes after:
Velia, Oh Velia, you nymph of the woods.
you know I would die for you , dear, if I could?

Velia apparently appears as "Vilja", and "Vilia", and is translated from the German. Now, of course, nothing will get done today as the chorus of Velia resounds in my cranium. They just don't write catchy tunes like that anymore :)

What! You say Chips Channon's diaries are available in print? And so, off to Amazon (crooning Velia). . . .
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Yes indeed, for about £14.99 brand spanking new, here in London town. But I've just been in a second-hand shop on the King's Road and saw them for a mere £2...

However much you pay, it will be well worth the investment!
 
S

sashka pozzetti

Guest
I found these, so at least while I wander round the house, I don't have to mumble!!!

Vilia, oh, Vilia, my nymph of delight,
haunting the woodland, enchanting the night.
Vilia, oh, Vilia, be tender and true,
Love me, and I'll die for you!

I wonder if the really fashionable young passengers thought that it was a bit passe, because it would have been 5 years old by then. They might have thought the big Merry Widow hats and frothy chiffon gowns were so 5 years ago!!! The kind of thing their matronly mothers would wear.!!! They probably all preferred to wear the latest narrow gowns.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Aha- and here is the original lyric from the German 1907 text. Do not be fooled by the 1934 film version with Hart lyrics!! Life is good.


"There once was a vilja, a witch of the wood,
a hunter beheld her one day as she stood,
the spell of her beauty upon him was laid,
he looked, and he longed for, the magical
maid.
For at once a tremor ran
right through the poor bewildered man,
and he sighed, as a hapless lover can:

'Vilja oh Vilja, the witch of the wood
Would I not die for thee, dear, if I could,
Vilja, oh Vilja, my life and my bride,'
softly and sadly he sighed, he sighed.

The wood maiden smiled but no answer she gave,
but beckoned him into the shade of her cave.
He never had known such a rapturous bliss,
no maiden of mortals so sweetly can kiss!
Then as at her feet he lay,
she vanished in the wood away,
and he called, vainly, 'til his dying day:

'Vilja, oh Vilja, my life and my bride,'
softly and sadly he sighed,
sadly he sighed, 'Vilja!'"
 
Mar 20, 2007
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I've got a 1997 recording with English soprano Barbara Bonney. My god, but it is AMAZING. The only trouble is, one feels practically COMPELLED to drink Tattinger whilst listening and that gets a mite expensive :)

I have always wondered, though, what kind of VOICE Lily Elsie had? She looks like a wee slip of a gel - but maybe she had a pair of lungs on her too...?
 
S

sashka pozzetti

Guest
my version comes from a site that just says it is from the 1907 London production. I expect there are diferent translations depending on when and where the production was. It said that the original lyrics were unsuitable for the films so they made them more bland, and romantic. I prefer the idea of nymphs and witches prancing around a wood myself!!!
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Oh Martin, I suspect you are a man after my own heart. Don't tell me you also read Beverly Nichols and Wodehouse, have a thatched cottage in the Cotswolds and can make a proper Dundee cake? If so, I am on the next flight out of Boston.
. . . Picturing the spurned husband and children gazing wistfully from the threshhold, dogs howling a parting lament.

Yes, those wee slips of gels often surprise one with a pair of bellows on the other end. Darling Lily must have had quite a range and some hefty top notes to deliver "the goods" (I simply drop a octave-the coward's way out on the Velia refrain). I say, Martin- if you have a decent tenor, we might have a duet in the making for the good people at ET (most of whom are snickering madly at this point). But, er.. as someone here recently said, "They say what say they? Let them say". Did you say Tattingers? !
 
S

sashka pozzetti

Guest
Hey guess what, you CAN hear Lily Elsie's voice on the Lily Elsie web site. It is very old fashioned sounding. There are also some of Randy Bryan Bigham's special collection of pitures to admire whilst listening to Ms Elsie.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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http://www.lily-elsie.com/ It is a lovely tribute site. The Edwardian Times link is excellent too. Listening to the voices, what superb diction everyone seems to have had. Imagine old King Bertie seeing Merry Widow 4 times (I suspect for the pleasure of seeing little Lily, one more for his bouquet of Lilies)).
Seems she had a low Bflat to a high C- clever girl!

Thank goodness for ABE books- a copy of Chips Channon's diaries has just been procured for just 18 American dollars from a divine little bookshop in Norwich, and is presently winging its way across the frantic Atlantic. The range in America went from 44-100 dollars. Buy British!
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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Franz Lehar could really write long, extended tunes. There are many fine examples in The Merry Widow. Notice how each phrase naturally grows out of the one before it. Many major composers did not have this gift.

For a really good singer of Vilja, have a listen to Australia's June Bronhill. She was a high soprano, but every word is clear.

The definitive German version is by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in a complete recording.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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But then again, I wonder just how much Edwardian audiences were really listening to the singing. The ladies were doubtless hankering after the fabulous Lucile frocks whilst the gents were doubtless hankering after the leading lady inside them!

(Shelley - it just so happens that I really DO have a cottage - of sorts - in the country. Not quite in the Cotswolds, but not far off, on the Herefordshire/Shropshire border, which is every bit as pretty. And I really DO read Nichols and Wodehouse, although I prefer Mitford and Waugh. As for the Dundee cake - well, here I fall short of the mark. I couldn't bake a cake to save my life. However, I love to EAT cake, and that is every bit as important, don't you think? And, alas for your ideas of an ET production of 'The Merry Widow', I am a baritone, not a tenor. But if these failings don't deter you, then by all means, abandon those kiddies and come on over. I suspect you'd find village life a hoot! I'll put the Tattinger on ice...)
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Titanica Relief Fund
Case No 234
Committee agrees sixpence weekly hardship allowance to provide Dundee cake for abandoned children.

119333.jpg
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Poor little mites! Now I'm feeling guilty. Are they actual 'Titanic' orphans?

Such images serve to illustrate, as little else can, the enormous gulf which yawned between rich and poor in 1912. As we twitter on about Lucile and 'The Merry Widow' and other such fripperies, we should remember that kiddies like these were really wondering where their next meal was coming from.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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The picture dates from 1912, Martin, but those kids had no connection with the Titanic. The material needs of children of lost crew members were very well served by the Relief Fund until they reached an age when they were no longer dependent. These are some of the many whose deprivations resulted from endemic conditions of poverty rather than a specific and newsworthy disaster. No headlines for them, and no Relief Fund.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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I've been rootling around on the Net today and have uncovered some interesting articles about social life in the White House, from the time of Martha Washington until the present day. It seems to have had some glittering highs as well as some dingy lows! I've also recently purchased a copy of Sarah Bradford's biography of Jackie O and now I'm wondering - which First Lady (or Ladies) would American board members deem particularly worthy of interest? I suppose I'm really thinking in terms of their skills as style leaders and hostesses, although I'd also be fascinated to know who enjoyed the most popularity within her own life time, independently of her husband. Shamed though I am to admit it, there are very many former presidents I've never even heard of! So any answers or information offered here will really be an education for me.

From what I've just read, Dolley Madison sounds like she was a game girl...

(Perhaps we can start by making an exception of Jackie O. As an icon of the twentieth century, she would win hands down as the most famous - or certainly, the most popular - inhabitant of the White House ever).
 
May 1, 2004
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I'm not an American, but my favourite was born during the Gilded Age - Eleanor Roosevelt. There was a lady who went from being a shy wallflower of an aristocrat to a dynamic voice for the underprivileged. She was not the most practical or pragmatic person but I think she was the best women's leader the 'free world' had in those terrible times.
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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I haven't researched First Ladies very extensively but my sense from the research I HAVE done is that many who have been largely forgotten (and most of them have been largely forgotten)elicited strong emotions in their day, either good or bad.

I recently bought a bio of President Taft's wife because it was on sale at the supermarket (it contains a photo of Archie Butt and apparently mentions him and the Titanic at some length). I've only skimmed through it, but it seems to portray her as a rather grasping individual, though not without winning qualities like backbone and loyalty.

I was shocked several years ago to discover that one First Lady - Florence Harding, I believe - had an illegitimate child. She's another one who lived pretty bravely and about whom people had/have mixed feelings.

Historians might take issue with me saying this, but so many 19th century presidents - not having as many major wars or the Great Depressions to preside over (or get blamed for) - tend to blend into each other. Their wives, therefore, blend into each even more. There were certainly some known for their entertaining and their general sparkle, but I have trouble remembering which ones they were.

Theodore Roosevelt's wife - Edith Kermit Carew (or Carow?) - whose grave I drive past every day and finally got around to visiting the other week, came from a family and background representative of the "Old New York" that Newland Archer and May Welland belong to. The picture generally painted of her is an appealing one of a dignified, loyal woman who avoided the limelight and did her best to guard her family's privacy and provide a counterbalance to her larger-than-life husband. I can picture her being friends with Florence Cummings and Marian Thayer (if Marian's slight eccentricity didn't turn her off
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