The Operetta Rising Star
Joseph Beer was the operetta’s rising star during the early 1930s, and his Polish Wedding promised to bring him a major breakthrough. However, Nazi rule abruptly and tragically ended his career. Paul Abraham’s librettist Fritz Löhner-Beda had taken Beer under his wing and did everything in his power to promote his success. Abraham and Beer had a lot in common: Jewish roots, a nervous disposition, and above all a bold stylistic mix combining folklore and jazz. All the characteristics of the operetta genre are united in concentrated form in Beer’s music: buffo duets of folk character in the manner of Kálmán, operatic finales à la Lehár, and »Abrahamic« dance hits with rhythmic pep. An Austrian magazine wrote in 1934, »Surprises in the field of the operetta have become rare. The successes of recent years have been associated with a few names that one can count on the fingers of one hand. And now a young man of twenty-four by the name of Joseph Beer suddenly comes along and presents a work with an extraordinary musical appeal, sumptuous and personal invention, firm execution, and an instrumentation that is a delight to hear.« Franz Lehár was forty years older than Beer, and only a few months before Giuditta, his last work, had celebrated its premiere at the Vienna State Opera – the crowning culmination of an operetta epoch that quite noticeably was nearing its end. The time was ripe for a new generation, and Joseph Beer seemed to be just the right composer to lead it into the future.