|CASINO-LIED aus DER TEUFEL LACHT DAZU! (DE c.1908). Photo: Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF. Click to enlarge.|
DCP viewed at Teatro Verdi, with English subtitles, grand piano for the films without sound: John Sweeney, 5 Oct 2015
NB. Differing from the printed programme, Flotte Bursche and Don Juan were screened as the final numbers of this show as their original recordings have been lost, and John Sweeney played the piano to them.
Anke Mebold (GCM program and website):
Opera, Operetta, Revue, Wienerlied
"Continuing the odyssey begun at the Giornate last year, the Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF presents another selection of early sound films from its outstanding Neumayer Collection of vintage film materials, which contains the largest group of Tonbilder known to survive from the first era of synch-sound film in Germany. The original nitrate prints were acquired by the DIF in November 1970, from Aloisa Neumayer of Icking, south of Munich. Their provenance can be traced to her father-in-law, Ludwig Neumayer (1863-1920), a brewer who was also a pioneering cinema owner and film producer in Straubing, in Lower Bavaria. A born showman, Neumayer was highly intrigued by novel entertainment equipment and the latest technology. He offered his beer-hall customers not only high-quality artisan beers, but also an impressive range of entertainment and cultural events: illustrated lectures, live concerts, and performances of a huge pneumatic Welte Orchestrion, hailed as the largest in Europe when it was installed in 1891 in Neumayer’s Konzerthalle."
"From 1899 onwards Neumayer exhibited films in Straubing, first at the Konzerthalle and then also at his Jägerhalle. Between 1907 and 1911 he ran Bavaria Film – Erste Bayerische Filmfabrik, a film production company with its own laboratory. In 1910 he opened a purpose-built cinema, the Lichtbildtheater, which he equipped in 1911 with a Pathéphon for the presentation of synchronized sound films. A special attraction at the Jägerhalle featured an Edison phonograph, while at the Konzerthalle t he mig ht y Welte Orchestrion was also used to accompany film programmes. Tonbilder were another major attraction. We are still working to establish the exact dates and contents of Neumayer’s Tonbilder programmes."
"This year’s Giornate selection presents 18 Neumayer Tonbilder, of a total of 19 digitized by the DIF since last year’s festival. Of those being shown, a total of 14 are confirmed or presumed to be productions by Jules Greenbaum’s Deutsche Bioscope Gesellschaft (DBG), a major company in the early German film market, commonly known in German film histories as Deutsche Bioscop, regardless of several changes in incorporation reflected in slight variations of name. The other four are operetta Tonbilder produced by Alfred Duskes."
"DBG’s founder, Julius Grünbaum (1867-1924), later known as Jules Greenbaum, was born in Berlin, and moved to Chicago in the late 1880s. After returning to Germany in 1895 he became involved in the nascent Berlin film business. First using his international affiliations to trade in foreign films and film technology, from 1899 onwards he established himself with DBG as a highly successful producer of films for the German market, with exclusive focus on actualities. In September 1907 he launched a publicity campaign for his synch-sound films and “Synchrophone” system, the name of which was soon changed to “Synchroscope”, and it was recommended that this synchronizing device be used with the DBG Vitascope projector. DBG’s engagement in Tonbild production was massive, with distribution focused on the variety circuit. However, in the course of 1908 the company ran into serious financial difficulties; Greenbaum sold his DBG shares in 1909, turning the focus of his company Deutsche Vitascope GmbH to Tonbild production."
"A leading rival of Greenbaum’s DBG was Alfred Duskes’ Fabrik für Kinematographen und Films (DSKS). Little is known about Alfred Duskes (1882–1942). Born in Halberstadt, he lived for almost two decades in the U.S., returning by the mid-1900s to Germany, settling in Berlin, where he soon became involved in the early film industry as an inventor and manufacturer of technical apparatus, also trading in films, cinema equipment, and Sprechmaschinen (talking machines). In 1905 he founded the company Alfred Duskes GmbH, and rapidly became a major player in the German-language film market. He was deeply engaged in synch-sound film technology, as well as Tonbild film production, and marketed both on an international scale. The name chosen by Duskes for his synch-sound system on the labels of his shellac discs and in advertising was “Cinephon” (spelled “Cinophon” on the main titles of the DSKS films held at the DIF, possibly due to a laboratory error). Duskes’ launch of the Cinephon system, along with a “rich repertoire”, was advertised in June 1907, a full three months before DBG’s Synchrophone/Synchroscope. Duskes’ reign in the industry was short: after World War I, the company released no new productions on the German film market. In 1935 Alfred Duskes emigrated to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1939; he died in New York City in 1942."
"Though Alfred Duskes’ tastes as a sound film producer overlap markedly with those of Jules Greenbaum in terms of musical works and numbers, Duskes preferred distinctly lighter-themed stage material: operetta, popular songs, revue, and spoken comedy. Almost without exception Duskes’ Tonbilder prominently feature piracy safeguards, with a legal warning in the title sequence and the DSKS logo visible in sets and decorations. Jules Greenbaum’s DBG frequently used elaborate painted backdrops, skilfully crafted to provide depth and perspective, but these did not incorporate their company logo – regrettably, since today this would help us to identify DBG films."
"Both DBG and Duskes Tonbilder were shot not only in Berlin but also in Vienna. And while DBG was working – at least initially – with music performances sold on the consumer market by the Deutsche Grammophon and Odeon labels, Duskes set up a collaboration with the Berlin-based Homophon Company, while also pursuing original recording.Sadly, German film history has not devoted detailed attention to the activities and output of these two major figures of the early German film industry, perhaps because both were of Jewish descent, with strong international ties. Since film historiography in Germany took shape in the 1930s, contemporary with the creation of the Reichsfilmarchiv in 1935, they were overshadowed by the nationalistic and self-promoting Oscar Messter."
"Today the historiography of early actuality film and Tonbild production in Germany is riddled with omissions. The creation of a filmography assembling the entire output of synchronous sound films by all German producing entities prior to World War I remains an essential research gap. In 1969 Gerhard Lamprecht provided an apt explanation: “The exceptional wealth of titles makes a listing among silent film heritage impossible, since today it is hardly possible to identify and distinguish them individually.”Any substantial advance towards completing the national filmography of early German production, by creating a comprehensive listing of Tonbild output, will require bringing together information surviving in extremely fragmentary and scattered form. Few film-accompanying shellac discs are known to exist; the films’ images often do not contain clear visual evidence that they are a Tonbild; nor do they reliably reveal their title, year, and company of production. Another tragic factor must also be taken into account: all the original production, sales, and rental catalogues listing Tonbilder now appear to be lost; not a single example is known to survive in Germany." – Anke Mebold
Technical Notes – Project statistics and methodology
"We found the matching soundtrack for 11 of the 18 films being shown in this programme. For 2 films we found no track at all – in one case because we were unable to identify the piece of music depicted; in the other because no recording of the work is known. These two films will be screened with live piano accompaniment."
"For 5 of the 18 films we were unable to find a matching shellac record, so once again we have used stand-in tracks, selecting the best-matching contemporary recording of the musical number available, as surrogate soundtrack for the Tonbild. In all 5 of these cases there was enough correspondence between the film image and the vocals – usually across the entire length of the film – that we could give in to the temptation of pursuing a method of presentation different from that of last year’s 14 Neumayer Tonbilder. This time the speed of the image was left constant, so that the images can run at a steady pace alongside the false track, and divergences and convergences between image and sound take their “natural” course. We emphasize that these 5 “reconstructed” Tonbilder are only a simulation, and as such ought to be considered temporary digital versions, in the hopes that sometime in the future matching shellac recordings will be discovered and made available to us for digitization and presentation alongside the image."
"All films in this programme are from the Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF, Frankfurt. The digitization was carried out with the financial support of Die Beaufragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media), again in close partnership with the Deutsches Musikarchiv (DMA) at the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Leipzig, and with the expert support of Christian Zwarg. All films will be shown as DCPs, with English subtitles. All the soundtracks feature performances in the German language. The individual film timings include the opening archival titles, which run 16 seconds. The film listings include DIF catalogue numbers and 35 mm lengths, plus gramophone disc information from the Deutsches Musikarchiv (DMA) or provenance information from private collections."
"The archivally supplied title card on each film displays an image of the shellac disc digitized for presentation, and also includes an assigned symbol which rates the quality of each soundtrack match. These “matching symbols” are also indicated in the individual film listings below."
= the matching recording was found and is presented alongside image.
(The authentic Tonbild soundtrack was digitized either from a film-accompanying shellac disc with the film producer‘s label, or from a shellac disc labeled with a vintage consumer market label.)
≠ stand-in vintage recording used for presentation alongside image.
(The authentic, matching Tonbild track is still lost. All sound information applies to the surrogate track of the digital reconstruction/simulation, not the lost original Tonbild soundtrack, for which we lack the information and an extant object.)
WILHELM TELL. Die Sonne strahlt. No. 78 (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1907) D: ?; M: Gioaccino Rossini; libretto: Etienne de Jouy, Hippolyte Bis; C: Hermine Kittel? (Hedwig); vocals: Leo Slezak (Arnold Mellstahl), Friedrich Weidemann (Wilhelm Tell), Elise Elizza (Mathilde), Grete Forst (Jemmy), Hermine Kittel (Hedwig), Gerhard Stehmann (Mellstahl), Chor der k. k. Hofoper Wien; conductor: ?; 3'00’’.
Quartet from Act 4 of Rossini’s opera Guillaume Tell: “Liberté, redescends des cieux” (common German title, “Die Sonne strahlt nach Sturmesnacht”).
Image: DIF_50_121: 35 mm nitrate print, c. 49.5 m
= Sound: Collection Axel Weggen: Gramophone Concert Record G.C.-2-44241 IV, 10862u, 6.1907, Wien (2:45 min. @ 73½ rpm).
"The finale of Rossini’s opera William Tell (1829), staged for the Deutsche Bioscop camera as a very static tableau, with a painted backdrop of rocks, ocean waves, and a ship’s bowsprit. The female cast member on the left, the voluptuous onscreen actress playing Hedwig with a “Mediterranean accent”, is presumably Hermine Kittel herself. She can also be admired as the alto playback artist in the film of the Rigoletto Quartet, while the onscreen actress on the right, singing to Elise Elizza’s Mathilde, is recognizable as the soprano playback artist in most of the opera Tonbilder produced by DBG."
AA: A stirring number, a rousing call for liberation: "freedom comes". A fine work of sound restoration.
DER BAJAZZO. Duett der Nedda (DE c.1908). Photo: Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF
Duet from Act 1 of Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci: “Duett der Nedda und des Silvio” (Duet of Nedda and Silvio); also known as “Warum denn hielt’st Du mich sehnend umfangen” (Tell Me Why Did You Hold Me So Close).
Image: DIF_50_115: 35 mm nitrate print, c.65 m
= Sound: Collection Axel Weggen: Gramophone Monarch Record 044064 II, 192s, 5.1907, Berlin (3:31 min. @ 72½ rpm).
"Pagliacci, known as Der Bajazzo in German, has been popular in the opera repertoire since its premiere in May 1892 in Milan. The Tonbild depicts the decisive duet of illicit passion between Nedda and Silvio in Act 1. Nedda’s rejected lover Tonio witnesses the romantic pledge, and vengefully fetches Canio, Nedda’s husband, thus setting in motion the fatal turn of events in Act 2. We are quite certain we have identified the Tonbild’s matching recording with the Deutsche Gramophone matrix number 192s, although the moment of discovery at the end of the duet is played out in silence."
AA: A tender love scene, very moving, "take me forever completely". There is a nobility in the voice conveyed.
|RIGOLETTO. Quartett. No.77 (DE 1909) Photo: Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF. Click to enlarge.|
Quartet from Act 3 of Verdi’s opera Rigoletto: “Bella figlia dell’amore” (common German title, “Holdes Mädchen, sieh’ mein Leiden”).
Image: DIF_50_127: 35 mm nitrate print, c.62.5 m
= Sound: DMA G.C.-2-440097-V G&T (Gram
"Verdi’s 1851 opera Rigoletto is strongly represented in Germany’s documented Tonbild output. This DBG film shows the fickle Count of Mantua wooing Maddalena, while Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda is forced by her father to witness the cruel revelation of her lover’s infidelity. The aria just before the Quartet, “O wie so trügerisch” (“La donna è mobile”), was included in last year’s Giornate programme, and was filmed using the same Osteria set."
AA: The grand tenor conveys the ecstatic force of the passion, and there is humour at play in the laughing rebuttal.
TROUBADOUR. Miserere. No. 80 (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1909) D: ?; M: Giuseppe Verdi; libretto: Salvadore Cammarano; C: ?; vocals: Leo Slezak (Manrico), Elsa Bland (Leonore), Chor der k. k. Hofoper Wien; conductor: ?; 3'05’’.
Duet with choir from Act 4 of Verdi’s opera Il trovatore: “Quel suon, quelle preci” (common German title, “Miserere”; also known as “Hab Erbarmen, o Herr, mit einer Seele”).
Image: DIF_50_135: 35 mm nitrate print, c. 51.5 m
= Sound: DMA G.C.-2-44242 G&T: Gramophone Concert Record G.C.-2-44242, 10864u, 6.1907, Wien (2:50 min. @ 74½ rpm).
"Verdi’s Il Trovatore premiered in Rome in 1853. Last year at the Giornate we showed Deutsche Bioscop’s film of the trio “Quel suon”, an earlier and livelier moment of this opera. The “Miserere” marks the moment when the culmination of the lovers’ doom is briefly poised for a last declaration of eternal devotion. While the usual Bioscop operatic lead actress plays the soprano for Elsa Bland’s Leonore, Leo Slezak’s Manrico remains invisible in the prison tower. The same painted backdrop of a stone tower was again employed by Deutsche Bioscop to provide an atmospheric university town setting for Suppé’s operetta Flotte Bursche, shown later in this programme."
AA: Tragic grandeur in the duet between Leo Slezak and Elsa Bland. The tenor star Leo Slezak was the father of Walter Slezak.
DIE FLEDERMAUS. Mit mir so spät (Duskes – DE 1909?) D: ?; M: Johann Strauss; libretto: Karl Haffner, Richard Genée; C: Hermine Hoffmann (Rosalinde), Edmund Binder (Frank), Emil Justitz (Alfred); vocals: Hermine Hoffmann (Rosalinde), Edmund Binder (Frank), Emil Justitz (Alfred); conductor: ?; 3'45’’.
Trio from Act 1 of Strauss’ operetta Die Fledermaus: “Mit mir so spät im Tête-à-tête” (With Me So Late Tête-à-tête); also known as “Mein Herr, was dächten Sie von mir” (Sir, What Would You Think Of Me).
Image: DIF_11_043: AZ 35 mm dupe negative, c.66 m; made c.1971 from DIF_30_267.
= Sound: DIF Musikarchiv 15_M_9. (Alfred Duskes Cinephon AD308. 4.1908, 3:17 min @ 77 rpm).
"The film features a mixed cast: Hermine Hoffmann and Edmund Binder were ensemble members of the Theater des Westens in Berlin Charlottenburg, and Emil Justiz was from Berlin’s Metropol-Theater."
"The strongly compromised image quality of this number from Die Fledermaus is partially the result of modest-quality analogue duplication, compounded by fairly strong image decomposition in the nitrate source when it was copied around 1971. Of 4 Neumayer nitrate originals no longer extant and now only preserved as archival acetate duplicates, this Tonbild is the only one exhibiting obvious signs of advanced chemical decomposition."
"The dating of the film is nebulous: Herbert Birett assigns the release to 1909, yet the matching shellac disc has turned out to be a Duskes original recording for exclusive Tonbild distribution, which suggests the image may have been recorded in proximity to its track, i.e., in April 1908."
"The DIF was fortunate to acquire at auction in July 2014 the original film-accompanying disc, neatly matching the surviving film image. The disc indicates the film’s production number as #308."
AA: Touching, hilarious, with a fine touch in the nocturnal triangle scene "with me so late".
DER VOGELHÄNDLER. (Entrée der Kurfürstin) (Deutsche Bioscop? – DE, c.1908) D: ?; M: Carl Zeller; libretto: Moritz West, Ludwig Held; C: ?; vocals: Philla Wolff (Kurfürstin Marie), Chor vom Metropol-Theater, Berlin; conductor: Friedrich Kark; 4'16’’.
From Act 1 of Zeller’s operetta Der Vogelhändler (The Bird Seller): “Fröhlich’ Pfalz, Gott erhalt’s” (Joyful Palatinate, God Preserve It); also known as “Ich bin ja ein Kind vom Rhein” (I Am a Child of the Rhine).
Image: DIF_50_134: 35 mm nitrate print, c.79 m
≠ Sound: Collection Axel Weggen: Odeon X 50307, Bx 2510 (?), 3.1907 (3:57 min. @ 75½ rpm).
"This operetta premiered in 1891 at the Theater an der Wien. The story was initially set in the Wienerwald, but after censorship objections the action was moved to the Pfälzerwald, the forests of the Palatinate, on the shores of the Rhine."
"The Odeon disc used with this Tonbild is a surrogate for the lost matching track, probably an original recording by Deutsche Bioscop. The surrogate recording has rather obvious discrepancies with the image. It rates among the most problematic of the 5 non-matching tracks in this programme. However, we had to settle for it as the only available option, as it is the sole recording from the first decade of the 20th century documented in prominent discographies; this number has rarely received attention from the recording industry."
AA: Joy, humour, glow with Philla Wolf and a choir of six women. The image is quite nice. The discrepancies of the ersatz disc do not bother me one bit.
NB. FLOTTER BURSCHE was screened second to last.
DAS SÜSSE MÄDEL. Das süsse Mädel (Duskes – DE 1908) D: ?; M: Heinrich Reinhardt; libretto: Alexander Landesberg, Leo Stein; C: Martha Huwald (Lola Winter); vocals: Martha Huwald? (Lola Winter); conductor: ?; 3'21’’.
Duet from Act 1 of Reinhardt’s operetta Das süsse Mädel: “Das süsse Mädel” (The Sweet Girl); also known as “So g’wachsen wie a Bamerl” (Grown as a Tree).
Image: DIF_11_054_1v3: AZ 35 mm dupe negative, c.60.5 m; made c.1971 from DIF_30_251.
= Sound: DIF Musikarchiv 15_M_8: Alfred Duskes Cinephon AD221, A24S 1128A; 24.1.1908 (2:58 min. @ 79½ rpm).
"Heinrich Reinhardt’s first operetta was a tremendous success when it premiered in 1901. Unfortunately, this is one of 4 Neumayer Tonbilder whose nitrate original does not survive, and its image is compromised by outdated reproduction technology from the early 1970s, with flawed execution. This visual impairment does not aid the limited performance range of Martha Huwald from Berlin’s Theater an der Spree, who acts the visual accompaniment to a high-pitched female voice singing the praises of sweet shapely girls from Vienna. The DIF was fortunate to buy at auction in July 2014 the matching original film-accompanying Duskes disc; it indicates that the film is Duskes production #221, and like all Duskes discs its label displays the system name Cinephon."
AA: An exuberant performance all the same.
DIE DOLLARPRINZESSIN. Ringelreihen (Duskes – DE 1908) D: ?; M: Leo Fall; libretto: Alfred Maria Willner, Fritz Grünbaum; C: Helene Winter (Daisy Grey), Arnold Rieck (Hans Freiherr von Schlick); vocals: Annie Prastorfer (Daisy Grey), Jacques Rotter [C. Seidl] (Hans Freiherr von Schlick); conductor: ?; 3'32’’.
Duet from Act 1 of Fall’s operetta Die Dollarprinzessin (The Dollar Princess): “Ringelreihen / Ringelreih’n” (Ring-a-ring-a-roses); also known as “Wir tanzen Ringelreihn” (We Dance a Ring-a-ring-a-roses).
Image: DIF_11_044: AZ 35 mm dupe negative, c.47 m (part of ending missing); made 1971 from DIF_30_270.
≠ Sound: Collection Michael E. Gunrem & Dieter Schulze: Zonophone Record X-24286, 12014u, 12.1907, Wien (3:07 min. @ 74 rpm).
"Leo Fall’s operetta premiered in Vienna in November 1907. Duskes presented its Tonbild of a popular number from this contemporary stage production with little delay. The story is set in America, pitching the New World against the Old."
"This Tonbild has the least effective surrogate track of our programme, but the pairing does allow a brief glimpse of the joint effect of image with sound. The film material is obviously incomplete, yet it remains unclear how much is missing of the film’s end. The analogue archival duplicate from 1971 does not appear to do justice to its Neumayer original, alas; unfortunately the nitrate no longer exists."
AA: The incompletenesses of the image nonwithstanding the reconstruction is quite watchable all the same. There is good comedy in the interplay of the performers, in their expressions.
EIN WALZERTRAUM. (Walzertraum). Nr. 92 (Deutsche Bioscop DE – c. 1908) D: ?; M: Oscar Straus; libretto: Felix Dörmann, Leopold Jacobson; C: Fritz Werner (Lieutenant Niki), Rudolf Kumpa (Lieutenant Montschi); vocals: Fritz Werner (Lieutenant Niki); conductor: ?; 2'40’’.
Duet from Act 1 of Straus’ operetta Ein Walzertraum (A Waltz Dream): “Da draußen im duftigen Garten” (I Walk’d in the Blossoming Garden); also known as “Walzertraum / Leise, ganz leise” (Waltz Dream / Softly, So Softly).
Image: DIF_50_110: 35 mm nitrate print, c.43.5 m
= Sound: Collection Axel Weggen: Odeon X 52035,Vx 2346, c.3.1907, Wien (2:34 min. @ 74 rpm).
AA: An officer's praise of the glory of Vienna to his friend, from the bottom of his heart.
EIN WALZERTRAUM. O, du lieber, o, du g’scheiter, o, du ganz gehauter Fratz. Nr. 95 (Deutsche Bioscop – DE c.1908) D: ?; M: Oscar Straus; libretto: Felix Dörmann, Leopold Jacobson; C: Fritz Werner (Lieutenant Niki), Dora Kepplinger (Franzi Steingruber); vocals: Fritz Werner (Lieutenant Niki), Mizzi Jezel (Franzi Steingruber); conductor: ?; 3'03’’.
Duet from Act 2 of Straus’ operetta Ein Walzertraum (A Waltz Dream): “O du lieber, o du g’scheiter, o du ganz gehauter Fratz” (Oh, you lovely, oh, you delightful, oh you crafty rascal); also known as “Sei still, du mein reizendes Mäderl” (Be quiet, my charming girl).
Image: DIF_50_113: 35 mm nitrate print, c.53 m
= Sound: Collection Axel Weggen: Odeon X 52038, Vx 2350, c.3.1907, Wien (2:56 min. @ 77 rpm).
AA: A warm and cordial love duet, a celebration of love.
EIN WALZERTRAUM. Piccolo (Deutsche Bioscop – DE, c.1908) D: ?; M: Oscar Straus; libretto: Felix Dörmann, Leopold Jacobson; C: Dora Kepplinger (Franzi Steingruber), Richard Waldemar (Count Lothar); vocals: Mizzi Jezel (Franzi Steingruber), Richard Waldemar (Count Lothar); conductor: ?; 3'29’’.
Duet from Act 2 of Straus’ operetta Ein Walzertraum (A Waltz Dream): “Piccolo-Duett” (Piccolo-Duet); also known as “Piccolo! Piccolo! Tsin, tsin, tsin!” or “Lehn’ deine Wang’ an meine Wang’” (Lean Your Cheek Against My Cheek).
Image: DIF_50_128: 35 mm nitrate print, c.61 m
= Sound: Collection Axel Weggen: Odeon X 63001, Vx 2351, c.3.1907, Wien (3:22 min. @ 77 rpm).
AA: "A solo is nice, a duet even nicer". And the duo can grow into a trio. The man with a flute, the woman with a violin.
"Three Deutsche Bioscop Tonbilder featuring numbers from Ein Walzertraum. The total count of early German synch-sound films of this extremely popular operetta must exceed 20, judging by the Tonbilder output of 3 major producers alone: Duskes offered a series of 7 with ensemble members of Berlin’s Theater des Westens (Der Kinematograph Nr. 61, 1908), DBG a series of 6 with ensemble members of Vienna’s Carl-Theater (Der Komet Nr. 1189, 4.1.1908, p. 42), and Messter a series of 5 (Michael Wedel, in Film History, Vol. 11 No. 4, 1999, p. 465)."
"The DIF‘s identification of the 3 Walzertraum Tonbilder as DBG productions is based on the appearance of Fritz Werner in the starring role, performing in his stage costume as depicted in period postcards. The film images’ are also a perfect fit with Odeon’s Carl-Theater shellac discs, neatly substantiated by a series of advertisements launched in Der Komet, Nr. 1189, 4.1.1908."
"The operetta premiered on 2 March 1907, at the Carl-Theater in Vienna. The surviving Odeon shellac records and film images, recorded shortly afterwards, bear witness to the production’s original staging. Sadly we are still missing half of the set of 6 music shorts released by DBG."
DER MANN MIT DEN DREI FRAUEN. Liebchen komm in mein Stübchen (Duskes – DE, c.1908) D: ?; M: Franz Lehár; libretto: Julius Bauer; C: Mizzi Wirth (Coralie), Oskar Braun (Major); vocals: Mizzi Wirth (Coralie), Max Steidl (Major); conductor: Bruno Seidler-Winkler; 2'53".
Duet from Act 2 of Lehár’s operetta Der Mann mit den drei Frauen (The Man With Three Wives): “Liebchen, komm’ und öffne dein Stübchen” (Sweetheart, Come and Open Your Parlour), also known as “Wahrlich wie ein Troubadour” (Truly Like a Troubadour).
Image: DIF_11_054_3v3: AZ 35 mm dupe negative, c.57 m; made c.1971 from DIF_30_261.
≠ Sound: Collection Axel Weggen: Gramophone Concert Record G.C.-2-44356, 12582u, 3.1908, Berlin (3:38 min. @ 78½ rpm).
"This Lehár operetta premiered on 21 January 1908 at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien. The main title of Alfred Duskes’ Tonbild presentation announces Mizzi Wirth and Oskar Braun as actors and vocalists, as well as their affiliation with the Neues Operetten-Theater in Berlin, so they are very likely enacting in front of the camera a number from the Berlin stage production, which premiered on 20 March 1908 under the direction of Julius Spielmann. Max Steidl, whose voice is heard on the recording we have used, was also a member of the Neues Operetten-Theater ensemble; he was probably an alternate for the part of the Major."
AA: The man gives a serenade to the lady on her balcony. No problem with very high notes, a full-bodied feeling in the sound.
Rivista / Revue
DIE HERZEN DER BERLINER FRAUEN aus DAS MUSS MAN SEH’N! (DE c.1908) Photo: Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF
“Die Herzen der Frau’n von Berlin” (The Hearts of the Women of Berlin), from the 1907 Metropol-Theater revue Das muss man seh’n! (You’ve Got to See This!).
Image: DIF_50_132: 35 mm nitrate print, c.57 m
= Sound: Collection Henri Chamoux: Synchrophone label on Odeon X 64519, xB 3269, 9.1907 (2:44 min. @ 76½ rpm).
"This DBG Tonbild involves a confusing range of variant titles: Die Herzen der Frauen is noted on the shellac disc, Die Herzen der Berliner Frauen is scribbled on the film’s leader, while Die Herzen der Frau’n von Berlin is the usual name and spelling of the revue number from the Metropol-Theater’s 1907 Jahresrevue, Das muss man seh’n! The Deutsche Bioscope label on the original Tonbildshellac disc displays the first system name, Synchrophone. The film features the same actor as in Casino-Lied, in front of the same elegant interior backdrop. He performs a song romanticizing the attributes of Berlin night-club professionals whose charming companionship holds the protagonist captive. A chorus line of 6 female dancers in billowing dresses visually accompanies the vocal solo. Paired with its matching Odeon track, the Tonbild features the first and third stanza from a total of four."
AA: The dude sings with a swagger, and six women wave their skirts. The women laugh at the dude's act.
CASINO-LIED aus DER TEUFEL LACHT DAZU! (Deutsche Bioscop? – DE, c.1908) D: ?; M: Victor Hollaender; lyr: Julius Freund; C: Emil Justitz(?), ?; vocals: Emil Justitz; 3'52’’.
“Casino-Lied” (Casino-Song), from the 1906 Metropol-Theater revue Der Teufel lacht dazu! (The Devil Laughs at This!).
Image: DIF_50_ 116: 35 mm nitrate print, c.75 m
= Sound: Collection Axel Weggen: Odeon X 34797, xB 1553, 9.1906 (3:38 min. @ 84½ rpm).
"A number featuring an ageing addict to night-life, who even at the gates of Heaven seeks relief from boredom by means of a “Casino” visit, to enjoy the company of his preferred ladies. This song was initially performed in the 1906 Jahresrevue, Der Teufel lacht dazu!, at Berlin’s Metropol-Theater. The DBG Tonbild stars the same main actor as Die Herzen der Berliner Frauen. According to a re-sale ad in Der Komet, the 4 extras are Metropol-Theater beauties. The film image has been paired with its matching Odeon track."
"DBG selected two stanzas from Julius Freund’s libretto, the introduction and the closing, for this music short, thereby omitting those more challenging to the staid moral framework of Kaiserreich audiences."
AA: The rake, a connoisseur of night life, praises the casino and its wonderful women.
[UNIDENTIFIZIERTES TONBILD] (DON JUAN) was shown as the last number.
FIAKERLIED (DE c.1908) Photo: Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF
“Fiakerlied” (Coachman’s Song). Wienerlied by Gustav Pick.
Image: DIF_50_ 129: 35 mm nitrate print, c.66.5 m
≠ Sound: Collection Christian Zwarg: Gramophone G.C.-2-42585, 770z, 5.1903, Wien (2:51 min. @ 77½ rpm).
"The Neumayer Tonbild of this famous Wienerlied is paired with a surrogate track that corresponds decently with the film image. It is only tentatively identified as a Deutsche Bioscop production, yet should not be confused with the Messter Tonbild Fiakerlied preserved in the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv collection in Berlin, which shows a singing coachman in an interior setting with bevelled glass windows, while Neumayer’s Fiakerlied has the coachman singing in front of a painted exterior backdrop of a city street corner."
"One of the most popular Wienerlieder, the song was premiered in 1885, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the guild of the Vienna Fiaker coachmen."
AA: The coachman's anthem: "good driving is found only in Vienna".
WEIBI WEIBI (Deutsche Bioscop? – DE, c.1908) D: ?; M: Karl Haupt; lyr: Edmund Skurawy; C: ?; vocals: Alfred Walters; conductor: ?; 3'22’’.
“Weibi, Weibi!” (Woman, Woman!). Viennese song by Karl Haupt, also known as “Weibi, Weibi, sei doch nicht so hart!” (Woman, Woman, don’t you be so hard!).
Image: DIF_50_ 108: 35 mm nitrate print, c.63.5 m
≠ Sound: Collection Michael E. Gunrem & Dieter Schulze: Alfred Duskes Cinephon AD170, c.11.1907 (3:15 min. @ 80½ rpm).
"Presented with a surrogate but rather closely fitting soundtrack, this vibrant but forgotten Wienerlied celebrates Viennese night life and methods of seduction. It is most likely a Deutsche Bioscop production, based on the style of its painted backdrop and its starring actors when compared with the DBG Tonbild of Der Bummel-Compagnon, shown at the Giornate last year."
"The shellac disc chosen as the best-fitting stand-in for the lost Deutsche Bioscop accompanying record is clearly labelled as a disc for Alfred Duskes’ Cinephon film #170. The timing of the performance is surprisingly well-matched, indicating that the lost Duskes film and the extant DBG
film were accompanied by a very similar recording, quite likely by the same vocalist. The onscreen performance by the faun-like waiter merits special attention."
AA: Flighty fun in a café encounter, a dance music quality. The ersatz disc works very well indeed.
FLOTTE BURSCHE. (Duett). Nr. 47 (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1908) D: ?; M: Franz von Suppé; libretto: Josef Braun; C: ?; vocals: ?; conductor: ?; 4'11’’.
Duet from Act 1 of Suppé’s operetta Flotte Bursche (Jaunty Fellow): “Willst du scheiden” (You Want to Depart).
Image: DIF_50_106: 35 mm nitrate print, c.80 m
Sound: no audio recording known on shellac or other modern media. Film screened with live piano accompaniment.
"This forgotten, partially lost Suppé work is the earliest operetta in our programme, and has been cursed with a title chronically inviting misspelling. Flotte Bursche premiered in Vienna in 1863. Only the overture is commonly considered extant, a medley of Studentenlieder. No recordings of the original Suppé compositions in the operetta are known."
"Yet the duet with chorus depicted in the Tonbild attests to the fact that at least one recording must have been made, before or in 1908, perhaps an exclusive DBG release for film accompaniment. Since the piano score and Josef Braun’s libretto are accessible, the film will be shown with subtitles representing the unheard vocals, meagre compensation for the missing soundtrack."
"The film depicts a decisive moment in the plot: Anton, an artisan cheated out of his inheritance, must bid farewell to his beloved Lieschen. A group of students decides to help out, and in the end they succeed by forging and selling art to Anton’s fraudulent legal guardian. The drunken students are played by cross-dressing female extras. DBG used the same painted tower as a backdrop in the Rigoletto Quartet."
AA: Although there was no recorded sound in this performance the subtitles conveyed the lyrics of the song, and indeed, the song is the thing here. Good live piano by John Sweeney.
[UNIDENTIFIZIERTES TONBILD] (DON JUAN). Nr. 16 (Deutsche Bioscop? – DE, c.1908) D: ?; M: ?; parole/lyr.: ?; C: ?; vocals: ?; 3'40’’.
Unidentified revue number or operetta scene (trio or quartette) showing three men courting a seated woman.
Image: DIF_50_ 112: 35 mm nitrate print, c.69.5 m
Sound: unidentified musical work; no recording found. Film screened with live piano accompaniment.
"The Don Juan theme has inspired a vast number of works in various genres; this could be a creative interpretation or parody. However, this film’s music track is still missing, and the Tonbild, numbered as 16 – with high certainty by Deutsche Bioscop – has thus far evaded identification. For the time being we are retaining the title reference to Don Juan, following its styling in archival paperwork at the DIF, although it has thus far not been possible to verify this; it may be erroneously assigned, as neither the film can, nor a main title, nor the film reel’s leaders attest to it. The backdrop seen here is the same as that used for the revue numbers Abends nach Neune and Roland und Victoria, both of which were screened at the Giornate last year. This may point to its being a musical number from a Berlin Metropol-Theater revue, though operetta cannot be ruled out."
AA: Fun and joy with a woman in front of a door courted by three men. The woman is obviously amused, there is a wind visible in the sets. John Sweeney's piano playing was spirited.
AA: Last year, in the 2014 Pordenone screening of Tonbilder from the Neumayer Collection I wrote: "A well edited and enjoyable programme, complete with photographs of the original phonograms with their label information. The synch in most of the numbers is fine, and the not matching soundtracks work well, too. The whole is more than a sum of its parts. It conveys a special feeling of a joy of life expressed in these songs, high and low, from Richard Wagner till Victor Hollaender. This DCP can be recommended both for pleasure and for serious study in the history of music and performing arts."
This new selection boasts the same exemplary quality of restoration, editing and presentation.
All in full shot, long takes, painted sets, these are invaluable records of performing arts before WWI.
The translations are witty.
A celebration of the spirit of life of la belle époque.