Tag Archives: Napoleon

Nr 437: The Rothschilds

15 Feb

The Rothschilds (1970)
Broadway 1970, 505 föreställningar
Off-Broadway, 1990, 435 föreställningar
Off-Broadway (som Rothschild & Sons), 2015

Music: Jerry Bock
Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick
Book: Sherman Yellen baserad på biografin The Rothschilds (1962) av Frederic Morton.

In 1772 Frankfurt, Germany, Jews are restricted to living in the ghetto and frequently are the victims of violence. Mayer Amschel Rothschild returns from Hanover, where he was an apprentice banker, to make his fortune in his home town. Because only twelve Jewish marriages are permitted in a given year, he is forced to come up with a plan in order to marry his fiancée Gutele. He reopens his shop, carrying goods and rare coins. At the Frankfurt Fair, he entices Prince William of Hesse with fanciful tales about rare coins, then bribes the prince in order to marry Gutele. Later, Mayer becomes agent for the court bankers, but he wants more.

By 1778, Mayer and Gutele have five sons, each of whom enters the business as soon as he is old enough. As they age, they and their father chafe at the many restrictions and indignities heaped upon Jews. In 1804, their success and their chutzpah take them to Denmark as superior court agents to the Danish king when Hesse must loan money to him to help fight a war. However, Hesse is overthrown by Napoleon, and Minister of Police Joseph Fouché takes over. When Mayer and his sons return to Germany, they find no court for which they can be agents. Mayer sends his older sons off to collect Hesse’s debts before the French can get them, and sends his younger son, Nathan, to London to invest the money.
Initially awkward in England, Nathan soon displays considerable investing talents. He falls in love with Hannah Cohen, an aristocratic English ”Jewish Joan of Arc” devoted to charitable works. He eventually wins her over by pledging to loan money to England to help win their war against Napoleon if the Chancellor of the Exchequer Herries pledges to make Germany and Austria lift their restrictions on Jews.
In Germany, Prince Metternich promises roughly the same thing if the Rothschilds make the loan. In 1818, Metternich reneges on his bargain, and old Mayer dies, broken-hearted. His sons scheme to force Metternich to come to terms by continually undercutting his price for peace bonds, although the plan brings them to the brink of bankruptcy. Metternich not only concedes but is forced to guarantee that all state bonds will be handled by the House of Rothschild. The ghetto walls are torn down, and Mayer’s dream is realized.

Den här musikalen hör till en av mina absoluta favoriter – rent musikaliskt. Har tyvärr aldrig fått chansen att se den.
I början på 1990-talet så släppte Sony ut ett stort antal av sina gamla musikaltitlar för första gången på CD, digitalt uppfräschade och ett ordentlig faktaspäckad häfte följde med i konvolutet. Jag köpte typ alla titlar som de gav ut. Just den här plattan såg ju väldigt sober ut och jag vet inte vad jag hade förväntat mig för typ av musik men inte var det denna semi pastisch på klassisk musik med tydliga judiska inslag. Jag älskade den från min första genomlyssning. Här finns strålande ensemblenummer, gripande solon och till och med lite komiska sånger mitt i allt allvar.
Just det här kompositörsparet (Harnick & Bock) har skrivit flera av mina favvomusikaler som Fiddler on the Roof och She Loves Me så det var väl inte så otippat att jag skulle gilla den här showens musik också, det som förvånade mig var snarare att det skulle ta så lång tid (2 år) innan jag öppnade CD:n…

 

Kuriosa:
Föreställningen vann 2 Tony Awards: Bästa manliga huvudroll och bästa manliga biroll i en musikal.

Detta blev den sista musikalen för partnerskapet Sheldon Harnick (text) och Jerry Bock (musik). De hade samarbetat sen 1958 och skapat mästerverk som Spelman på Taket, She Loves Me och Fiorello! Anledningen till att samarbetet dog med denna produktion var att regissören som anlitades för att regissera musikalen, Derek Goldby, fick sparken från produktionen innan den hade sin premiär. Goldby var en god vän till Bock. När Harnick tog  producenternas sida och höll med om att Goldby skulle kickas så kände sig Bock sviken av sin partner och de började glida ifrån varandra.

2015 så hade en kraftigt bearbetad version av verket premiär Off-Broadway. Nu presenterades den som enaktsföreställning och koncentrerade sig mer på relationen mellan Mayer och hans söner än grundandet av deras bankvälde. Även några tidigare strukna sånger lades till.
En anledning till att man valde att bearbeta revivaln av verket så kraftigt  var att folk hade klagat på att bara första akten i originaluppsättningen, som koncentrerade sig just på Mayer, var intressant. Sönernas öden under andra akten ansågs inte så engagerande och man saknade även Hal Linden som spelade Mayer. Detta ledde till att man skrev in en sång åt Hal i andra akten och lät sönerna hela tiden skriva brev till honom så man fick anledning till att ta in honom på scen. Detta trots att Mayer rent historiskt var död under den tid andra akten utspelade sig.

Den Oscarnominerade skådespelerskan Jill Clayburgh gjorde sin Broadway debut i rollen som Hannah Cohen.

Press:
För originaluppsättningen:
This lead-footed and overstuffed musical, oldest of old fashioned, only represents the vulgarity of money and the vulgarization of Jewishness. It also represents the vulgarization of musical theatre.

It is ludicrously expensive, naive and misled.

Not only is there no coordination between dance and drama, there isn’t even a connection. There is nothing musical about the dramatic sequences and nothing dramatic about the musical ones.
– Martin Gottfried, Women¨s Wear Daily

 

Yet it is interesting, in parts very witty, has a certain moral force and, best of all, it has style.

The Rothschilds is a good and solid start for the musical season. Wonder of wonder I think it might even make money. But the Rothschilds always have.
– Clive Barnes, The New York Times

 

It is possible that The Rothschilds has succeeded in becoming exactly what it meant to be: an unhappy musical comedy. Do your eyebrowes lift? What else was to be got out of an account, very lightly dusted by powdered wigs and twirled parasols, of a Jewish family that fought its way up out of the ghetto, servile blow by servile blow, until it had amassed enough money to help finance the Napoleonic wars and to extract promises (of freedom) that would never be kept? Joy unconfined, or even temporary satisfaction? And that is the truth of the matter. But is it a truth with much music in it?
– Walter Kerr, Times

För 2015 års revival:
Sherman Yellen’s book looks hard for heart and warmth, but this is still the story of a man who decides that the only way to escape oppression is to make lots of money. And the way to get even with powerful people who betray you is by sabotaging their bond offering. Bankers are not particularly fashionable as heroes right now.

Mayer’s musical number “In My Own Lifetime” comes close to thrilling, and “Everything” is at least rousing, but most of the songs are only pretty. Maybe it’s too much to expect another “Sunrise, Sunset” or “If I Were a Rich Man,” but what’s a musical for?
– Anita Gates, The New York Times

Videosar:
Trailer till Rothschild & Sons
Meet The Creators
Hal Linden om sin Tony vinnande roll i 1970 års uppsättning
In My Own Lifetime med Sammy Davies Jr.
I’m in Love

 

 

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