The Desert Song
Book and Lyrics by Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II and
Music by Sigmund Romberg
Casino Theatre, Broadway 30 November, 1926 (465
Produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 1927 (432 perfs) The Desert Song is currently unavailable for production by either professional or amateur companies in the UK
General Birabeau has been sent to Morocco to root out and destroy the Riff bandits. Especially must he bring to book their daredevil leader, known as the Red Shadow. He can look for little help from his milksop son, Pierre, who spends all his time mooning over Captain Fontaine's fiancée, the lovely Margot. But Margot secretly yearns to be swept into the arms of some bold, dashing sheik, perhaps even the Red Shadow himself? To her surprise, when her Eastern hero does in fact abduct her he treats her with every Western consideration. And when this Moroccan Robin Hood comes face to face with Birabeau, he surprisingly refuses to fight the old man. Azuri, the sinuous and secretive native dancing girl, might be persuaded to answer some of these riddles if only she can be made sufficiently drunk. Meanwhile, Benny and Susan still provide some of the best opportunities for inspired clowning ever offered to a comedy team.
For the Chorus
Chorus work weaves into the romantic tale of adventure in a way that ensures it will never lose its appeal for cast or audience alike. Stirring numbers are alternated with endearing love songs, all richly harmonized. The chorus appear as Riffs, French soldiers and their wives and sweethearts, harem girls, Spanish courtesans, native dancers.
Susan, an incompetent newspaper reporter's lovesick secretary
Clementina, Spanish courtesan
Pierre, the Red Shadow
Sid El Kar, his Riff lieutenant
Captain Paul Fontaine, of the French Foreign Legion
Benny, Susan's boss
Ali Ben Ali, Caid of a Riff tribe.
Neri, a Riff woman.The Scenes
Edith, Susan's friend.
Hadji, a Riff farmer
Hassi, of the Red Shadow's band.
Lt La Verne and Sgt De Boussae, Foreign Legionnaires.
A hide-out in the Riff mountains (full stage).
Outside the Governor's house (front drop).
A room in the Governor's house (full stage).
The harem of Ali Ben Ali's palace (full stage).
A palace corridor (front drop).
The palace's Room of the Silken Couch (half set).
The edge of the desert (front drop).
The courtyard of the Governor's house (full stage)
1st and 2nd Violins, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Flute, Oboe, 2 Clarinets, Bassoon, 2 Horns, 2 Trumpets, Trombone, Drums, Harp
- PRELUDE AND OPENING CHORUS … (High on a hill is our stronghold)
- SONG (Red Shadow) … SID & RIFFS … " The
Riff Song " (Over
the ground there comes a
2A REPRISE (Ho! bold men of Morocco)
- FINALETTO — SCENE I
3A ENTRANCE OF AZURI
3B TRUMPET SOLO
- SONG (Paul) & SOLDIERS … " Margot " (O!
pretty maid of France)
4A FINALE — SCENE I
- OPENING — SCENE II. & SONG (Susan) … "I'll be a buoyant girl" … (Has anybody seen my Bennie?)
- OPENING CHORUS — SCENE III … (Why did we marry soldiers?)
- FRENCH MILITARY MARCHING SONG … (Margot) & GIRLS (Oh! Girls, girls, here are cavaliers)
- SONG … (Margot) & GIRLS " Romance " ..
.. (Romance — a
8A INCIDENTAL MUSIC
- DUET (Margot and Pierre) & CHORUS … "Then you will know " (My passion is not to crash on and woo)
- TRIO (Margot, Paul and Pierre) & CHORUS " I want a Kiss " .. (What's the noise, what's the row?)
- DUET (Susan and Bennie) & GIRLS … "It" … (There
was a time)
11A INCIDENTAL MUSIC
- DUET (Margot and Red Shadow) … " The Desert Song " (I open my arms)
- FINALE — ACT I … (Won't you wish us luck)
- OPENING CHORUS … (My little castagnette)
- SONG … (Clementina) & GIRLS … "Song
of the Brass Key" … (On
the streets of Spain)
16A SPANISH DANCE
16B REPRISE … (Give him the key)
- DUET … (Clementina and Bennie) … " One good boy gone wrong" … (Bold women, please unhand me)
- CONCERTED NUMBER … (Red Shadow, Sid,
Ali) & MEN … Eastern & Western Love … (Let love
come as some rare treasure)
(a) " Let Love go "
(b) " One flower in your garden "
(c) " One alone "
18A INCIDENTAL FINALETTO—SCENE II
- OPENING—SCENE III
- SCENE … (Margot and Red Shadow) … " The Sabre Song " … (I find the simple life entrancing)
- FINALETTO—SCENE III … (You love me)
- SCENE IV … "Farewell" … (Low, it means the Riffs)
- OPENING — SCENE V & ENTRANCE OF SUSAN AND BENNIE … (All hail to the General)
- REPRISE (Susan and Bennie) & GIRLS … "It" … (Because I didn't know)
- DANCE OF TRIUMPH … (Azuri) … (As we are drinking)
- FINALE … (Soldiers, when the battle is over)