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"DER GOLDENER SOLDAT"
The following review, written by Hillel Rogoff, appears in the Yiddish Forward newspaper of October 9, 1925.
The aspiration of the Yiddish operetta theatres to give productions, "a la Broadway," will gradually be achieved. When the operetta managers several years back began to imitate Broadway, this turned out to be a hoax. Then they would snatch out one rich effect here or there and "stick" it into a play, of which it was contemptuous of the poverty. Slowly, however, to the Yiddish operetta there came gehenter un gehenter to the Broadway-goer, and it is possible to make a serious comparison between them.
"The Golden Soldier," the operetta that was played in the Liberty Theatre is a Broadway Yiddish operetta. It would naturally be an exaggeration to say that she possesses the wealth, the splendor and brilliance of a Broadway musical spectacle. A Yiddish theatre manager would fall into weakness when one would show him the account that a Broadway operetta costs. But if the "Golden Soldier" does not have the scope of the Broadway operetta, if she is not placed on such a large, broad scale, however, she belongs to the same genus. The Yiddish operetta, as she is now posed, is an only brother of the operetta, as she is performed on Broadway.
In one respect it unfortunately rises above the Broadway operettas -- in the libretto, in the action. Mr. Freiman, who wrote the libretto, has demonstrated that he can "scrape together" many a foolish "plot," as can his writer colleagues from Broadway.
It is true that in an operetta the libretto is not important. It is true that the best operas are written around foolish librettos. But to whom was it necessary for Mr. Freiman's to strive to enter even a sign of naturalness, of human understanding in the libretto? If the libretto is not important, then she still seems simple and straightforward. If it's a silly libretto, it should at least be written in such a way that one does not have to worry about what is going on on stage.
The chorus, or better said, the choristkes, are almost all young, beautiful girls, who know how to dance and sing well. In a couple of scenes the choristkes make "single turns." they dance as one. Each of them a true dancer. Here there is one scene in which a cabaret is represented. A "jazz" band plays, and the choristkes dance. Such scenes are often staged in the Broadway operettas. The actor and the choristkes in the Liberty Theatre show that they can do such a "job" no worse that their colleagues on the rich Broadway. The scenes for us are a true surprise. We have never dreamt of seeing choristkes as such good dancers on the Yiddish stage.
The hero of the operetta, the one who has the most to "sing and to say" is, understand, Michal Michalesko. He is born for the role. He has the appearance for you, the figure, the face, and -- what is more important that ever -- the voice. Michalesko's voice is clear, young and appealing. One hears his every tone through and across the orchestra. In his voice here is a heartiness, a sweetness, which is so needed for the love songs, which often come to him to sing during the play.
Zina Goldstein, in the second role of Rosita, also makes a good impression. She also has adapted to the role with her exceptional appearance, and with her actions. She sings pleasantly.
In the operetta we have the first opportunity to see the young comic, Pesach'ke Burstein. he is a winner for the Yiddish stage, already holding himself on to the stage like a civilized man. Many of our comedians still have the idea that comedy consists of making crazy avenues, jumping around, running around like a wild man. Pesach'ke Burstein holds up pretty well. he sings well, dances fine -- an extraordinary "entertainer." Let him age on the Yiddish stage.
Annie Lubin plays the comical woman's role, the soubrette role. She has, without a doubt, much temperament, much fire. But when it often comes that she plays together with Pesach'ke Burstein, casting there is contrast in their actions. Annie Lubin belongs to the old school of comics, of soubrettes (... we are not saying that she is old.) The exaggerated she cries and burns too much. We believe her acting would have gained a lot if she had been calm, restrained. Do you believe that your play would have benefited you if she had been quiet, restrained?
Among those who have smaller roles make the best impression: Annie Lubin, Max Badin, Clara Gold and Max Bulman.
One of the "effects" in the offering is a white horse, on which Michalesko goes riding when he appears for the first time in the first act. It is true that a horses are rarely seen on the streets, but it is not uncommon for them to be shown on stage as a sensation. Beyond that, the horse makes everyone nervous. Everyone knows what he might suddenly feel like doing. We are sure that the public does not see nor hear Michalesko the entire time that he sits on the horse. The horse entirely draws the attention to itself. Let us hope that when Michalesko, if he learns of this, will become "jealous" and issue an ultimatum: "It's me or him" ...
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