the american musical – the sound of music, the wizard of oz, the king and I


In America the musical was renewed during the 1920s and early 1930s. Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960) and composer Jerome Kern (1885-1945) created the musical Show Boat (1927). Later, the collaboration between librettist Oscar Hammerstein II and composer Richard Rodgers launched light-hearted musicals, most notably the love story Oklahoma! (1943) which was successfully performed until the 1960s, and The Sound of Music (1959) which was made into a movie by Robert Nize in 1965.
Oklahoma! is based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. It takes place in Oklahoma Territory in 1906 and it tells the stories of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams and cowboy Will Parker and his flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie. Oklahoma had been an immediate success since the opening of the production on March 31, 1943 and ran for an record period of time: 2,243 performances. Its film adaptation was also awarded of the Academy in 1955. Inspired to the previous musical Show Boat, it exemplified the development of the “book musical”: a musical play where the songs and dances are fully integrated into a well-made story which mixes dramatic moments with laughters.

The Sound of Music (1959) is a Broadway musical – based on the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp – with songs written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It is the story of an Austrian widower ex- naval officer – Captain Von Trapp – who takes on a new governess, Maria – a nun (suora) too free spirited for any convent – to look after his over-disciplined seven children. Maria makes the children happy and joyful (gioiosi) with music and trips (giri) in the country and they come to love her (le si affezionano) very dearly. Also the Captain grows closer (si avvicina) to his children, and starts understanding the value and beauty of the freedoms Maria is teaching them. The affection is reciprocated (reciproco) , but Maria is a nun and runs back to the convent. Here her reverend mother (madre superiora) suggests her to face (affrontare) the situation and go back to the Captain who, meanwhile (nel frattempo), has got engaged (si è fidanzato) with a beautiful Baroness. On her return, the captain explains the baroness he loves Maria and the engagement is called off (si rompe). The Captain and Maria marry, but unfortunately Germany is marching into Austria – it is 1938 – and the captain is called (è chiamato) to serve the Third Reich in its navy. He does not want to obey the Third Reich, and escapes with Maria to Switzerland on foot. The film adaptation of the musical was made in 1965 and was directed by Robert Wise.

The musical The Wizard of Oz is an adaptation of Frank Baum’s novel about the adventures of Dorothy, a young girl from Kansas. A tornado sweeps away (spazza via) Dorothy, her farmhouse home (fattoria) and her dog Toto to the fantastic place of Oz. Dorothy, Togo and their house land (atterrano)in Munchkinland, a magical place that Dorothy has ever seen or dreamed of (sognato). The people who live here are very small and proclaim Dorothy their heroine because she has landed (è atterrata) – and has killed – the Wicked Witch(malefica strega) of the East, a creature that dominated the country. Dorothy is amazed (stupita), but Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, appears and explains her what has happened. Of course Dorothy would like to go back home, but the Wicked Witch of the West – sister of the dead Wicked Witch of the East – suddenly appears. Glida defends Dorothy and fortunately the magical Ruby Slippers (magiche ciabatte di rubino) of the Wicked Witch of the West go on the feet of (sui piedi) Dorothy . Glida reveals (rivela) Dorothy that she is safe (sicura) with the slippers. The Witch of the West leaves, and Dorothy starts travelling to find the Wizard of Oz who can help her return to Kansas. On her way (sulla strada) , Dorothy has many adventures and meets a talking scarecrow (spaventapasseri parlante), a tin man (uomo di latta)and a coward lion (leone pauroso). They are all looking for something – a heart (cuore), a brain (cervello) and courage – and need to find the Emerald City, where the Wizard of Oz is master(padrone) : he will give them what they need. …

The King and I is a 1951 musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, which derives from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. IN the 1860s the King of Siam tries to bring Western culture to his country and engages Anna Leonowens, an attractive English schoolteacher, to teach his royal princes and princesses. She gets to Siam with her son, Louis, and is shocked because she will have to live in the palace. Soon Anna gets the King’s children’s affection , but anna insists on having a a house of her own. Meanwhile the musical follows the development of the love story between Tuptim – future King’s wife – and Lun Tha.
A crisis is developing in Siam. An agent in Singapore has known that the king is a barbarian. Anna defends him and when the King tells her that some high-ranking English men and women are coming to visit Siam and to judge him she Anna suggests that they must be entertained with a European dinner and ball, and with all the Siamese princes and princesses wearing European dress. Meanwhile Lun Tha and Tuptim are making plans to run away together . The visit is a huge success and Both Anna and the King are joyful by the success of their efforts. But suddenly Tuptim is brought to the King because captured while trying to escapeand Lun Tha has been killed.. The King orders that she be whipped, but Anna fiercely oppose. Anna feels that she can’t stay in Siam any longer, and makes preparations to return to England. But the King falls seriously ill. On his death-bed the King implores her to stay on in Siam, and she Anna cannot find the courage to leave a country, a people and, most of all, the pupils she has come to love.

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