In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

DR. VON LYRIC: A Little Needed Harmony

May 19, 2015 1:21:00 PM
By BLO Staff

I was listening recently to Jonas Kaufmann's new and somewhat surprising CD, You Mean the World to Me:

As you can see, he is his usual elegant and sexy self in a collection of popular hits, operetta (Lehár), and film songs from the 1930s. Listening, I was reminded again of the Comedian Harmonists—a group whose cool, witty, and savvy performances I have always loved and whose story continues to intrigue. Learn more at Wikipedia.

Here's a crazed vision of them performing with Josephine Baker (another cultural figure of enduring fascination from the 1920s and '30s, and whose overall career and life summon up fantastically diverse threads of thought and conversation):

A movie about the Comedian Harmonists, made in 1997, in which the actors lip-synced to original recordings:

YouTube is full of these original, unique recordings. Here's another example, of a guitar version:

There have been many contemporary takes on this repertory (and its disturbing echoes of an intensely troubled history). Max Raabe and his Palast Orchester are among the most compelling (and rather eerie) exponents of this "nostalgia." Take a look:

An irresistible finale...

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