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Subject: Re: A Whistle on the Wilde Side
From: Jerry Thomas <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jerry Thomas <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 14 Sep 2009 19:42:36 -0700

text/plain (186 lines)

I thought I was saving this document as a draft and accidently sent  
it to the list.

The final statement of my email should read -

Additinally, if something in copyright was being used, the original  
program would likely have given credit to the current songwriters.


Jerry Thomas

On Sep 14, 2009, at 7:35 PM, Jerry Thomas wrote:

> In the novel of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST adapted by Charles  
> Osborne, this question is answered by the quote:  "...Jack entered,  
> followed by Algernon, both whistling a popular tune from a Gilbert  
> and Sullivan opera."
> I would assume that this particular choice was made by Osborne.  It  
> seems reasonable by today's standards.  However, I do not know the  
> details of British copyright back in the 1890s and perhaps, some  
> sort of royalty would have to be paid the publishers of Gilbert &  
> Sullivan.  At the very least, I would think that permission would  
> have to be sought.  The song "British Grenadiers" would probably  
> have been public domain by the time of the original production of  
> the play and no royalties or permission would be needed.  My guess  
> is that the play's producer would not have wanted to pay extra  
> royalties and seek any permissions.
> Additionally, if something in copyright was being used, the  
> original program
> In John Gielgud's recording of the play released by Angel
> about fifty years ago, they whistle a very brief
> snatch of the tune called "British Grenadiers"  which
> is attributed to no known composer but was made famous in an
> arrangement by the composer of English operas, Thomas Arne.
> I don't think the identity of the
> tune has the slightest importance in the context of
> Wilde's play, and that his direction was intended as
> the merest guideline.  Gielgud also filmed the play
> at around the same time but I do not recall what was
> whistled in it.  It is the most fleeting of moments, to
> be sure.
> Donald Kane
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Discussion of opera and related issues
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of R G
> Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 4:48 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [Fwd: A Whistle on the Wilde side]
> Really a fascinating approach. I am still doing research on
> this, and have had some very good private answers, including
> G&S - of course, it would be a wonderful conceit for it to
> have been something from Patience, which inspired by the
> younger Wilde - but this makes a lot of sense. There's
> nothing to Jack that suggests 'culture', but music halls and
> so on certainly.
> I have one research source to try to get a  hold of, and I
> will then get back to you.
> All best and thanks
> Richard
> Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2009 08:31:15 +1200
> Subject: Re: [Fwd: A Whistle on the Wilde side]
> From: [log in to unmask]
> To: [log in to unmask]
> CC: [log in to unmask]; [log in to unmask];
> [log in to unmask]
> Hello from Kurt Gänzl
> If my memory serves, EARNEST is 1895? And is supposed to be
> contemporary?
> I would think thus a ‘popular air from a British opera’
> would be unlikely to mean MARITANA, LILY OF K or BOH GIRL,
> already getting slightly mouldy in the ranks of the
> Valentine Smith touring opera company, and no longer
> precisely ‘popular’!
> ‘English opera’ in the 1890s? Well, we know there were a few
> but ‘popular’ would be grossly exaggerating.
> I think the answer is simple. ‘A British opera’ to – above
> all a not operatic person — would in the terminology of the
> time have indicated equally well the produce of the Gaiety
> Theatre, the Prince of Wales’s or Daly’s .. Spots,
> donchathink, very much more likely for Jack to have visited
> on his trips up to town than Covent Garden or Drury Lane. So
> maybe something from IN TOWN, THE SHOP GIRL, AN ARTIST’S
> MODEL or even the ageless CLOCHES DE CORNEVILLE or the works
> of Messrs Sullivan and Gilbert..
> It would be nice to think it might have been PATIENCE, but I
> have never heard of a specific tune being mentioned in
> relation to this spot .. Hardly worth it, when its two
> debonair phrases and off ..
> I think debonair is the key word. The whistling is to
> establish Jack’s off-hand man-about-town character. A
> recital of ‘The Light of Other Days’ or ‘Farewell to the
> Mountain’ would hardly do that! More likely to be ‘Her
> Golden Hair was hanging down her back’
> Cheers
> Kurt
> On 9/14/09 11:44 PM, "Basia" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> -------- Originele bericht --------
>  Onderwerp:  A Whistle on the Wilde side
>  Datum:  Mon, 14 Sep 2009 07:35:56 -0400
>  Van:  Beckmesserschmitt <[log in to unmask]>
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>  Antwoord-naar:  Beckmesserschmitt <[log in to unmask]>
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>  Aan:  [log in to unmask]
> Can anyone point me to a source which might answer this
> question, which
> may be more theatrical than operatic in terms of an answer,
> but which
> obviously involves opera?
> In the third act of The Importance of Being Earnest, after
> Cecily and
> Gwendolen have retreated to the Manor House upon finding
> that neither of
> their beaux are quite whom they purport to be, Jack and
> Algernon enter, and
> Wilde's stage direction is "Enter JACK followed by AlGERNON.
> They whistle
> some dreadful popular air from a British opera."
> I would be very curious just 'what' was whistled, assuming
> something was, at
> the early performances of Earnest. One can imagine, for
> example, Wallace or
> any of the ballad operas (I hope not Balfe! but perhaps
> Marble Halls), but I
> suspect something specific was whistled by the actors at the
> time of the first
> performances.
> Any ideas where one might search for this information?
> Many thanks
> Beckmesserschmitt

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