Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fiddler on the Roof – The Original Broadway Cast Recording

   One of most successful musicals in the history of musical theatre was Fiddler on the Roof, joint work by composer Jerry Bock, lyricist Sheldon Harnick and writer Joseph Stein. First stage production by Harold Prince in Imperial Theatre has been directed by Jerome Robbins and won nine Tony Awards. This production as first musical in the history exceeded three thousands of performances and gave record rate of return – $1 574 for every invested dollar. Since its premiere on Broadway in 1964, depicted in New York Times as “filled with laughter and tenderness”, triumphal march of the work begun. In next two decades this musical became basic repertoire position on the scenes around the world. The crowning achievement was the success of movie adaptation produced and directed by Norman Jewison.  
   The story was originally was titled Tevye, as it was based on Sholem Aleichem’s story Tevye the Milkman (טבֿיה דער מילכיקער). The definitive title Fiddler on the Roof has been taken from Marc Chagall painting The Fiddler and symbolizes power of survival in hostile environment and permanent unbalance. One can say this is the very beginning of identity discourse in pop-culture and early example of redefining history of roots and family myths. There are also indications this is only 21st century point of view and in sixties the story has been understand rather as a history of father’s love, which led him to accept daughters will, even if their choices were unacceptable. The classic conflict between generations can be seen more universally, as a contrast between modern culture and limitations in religious and traditional way of living. It was the clearest perspective to interpret this text in sixties and seventies.

Original Broadway Cast – Fiddler on the Roof (1964)

   Since introduction of long playing gramophone records, important element of Broadway premiere became original cast recordings. Opening September 22, 1964, Fiddler on the Roof became the great success, and it was strictly connected with RCA Victor LP released at the same time in mono and stereo and produced by George R. Marek. This gramophone record can be great document of Fieddler on the Roof first stage performances. Main character Tevye was sung by Zero Mostel and maybe he sounds little bit naïve but this magnifies the touching empathy of heroic attempts to understand and his wise decisions. This attitude makes Tevye maybe closer to the hero of Sholem Aleichem’s story than any later production.
   Zero Mostel and Maria Karnilova who has played his wife Golde are perfect pair. Both won Tony awards for best acting. Roles of three daughters played Joanna Merlin, Julia Migenes and Tanya Everett and the second; Hodel was debut role of Julia Migenes, great opera singer known from Carmen movie and Paris world premiere of Angels in America by Péter Eötvös. Noteworthy singer is young revolutionary Perchick played by Bert Convy. After half year this performance still sounds perfectly and it is hard to believe almost 50 years passed by. Among many versions and performances the first is always worth to remember. This album is not only the nice piece of musical art but also a perfect document of the time its sound and feeling.

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