Visit Site Map Exhibitions About the Museum Education and Research Contact Us Support
The Yiddish Folks
"VEN ZI ZUN GET OYF"
This review was written by L. Fogelman for the Yiddish Forward newspaper, appearing in print on November 1, 1940. Here is the review in English:
And this is, it seems, the great virtue of the new offering; because after everything, the soul of the operetta nevertheless is in her music, and the other parts are only helpers.
J. Rumshinsky, the musical director of the Folks Theatre, has put in a lot of effort, fantasy and talent to develop the new operetta into a musical achievement; and he is successful. He has created an operetta that is Yiddish and secular at the same time, serious and light, touching and playful.
You can find here at least a half-dozen or a half-dozen melodies that you want to hear over and over again. And the melodies are very eloquent: there are fine solo numbers, and here there are also successful duets and trio numbers; and the general musical tone and accompaniment that accompany the entire operetta, is warmer, milder and heartfelt.
The prologue apparently needed to serve as a symbol; and I think that it completely overwhelmed. The operetta would lose nothing if the prologue disappeared. I believe, on the contrary, that it would still benefit from it, because the real prologue plays itself out in the first scene of the first act, with Rabbi Itsikl in the room, where he tells a story, that a count twenty-five years ago entered into an agreement with a rabbi to replace their newborn son; because the countess's child was born a weakling, and the rabbi's child was thriving; and the price of the extraordinary agreement was that there was salvation for Jews: here the rabbi offered a sacrifice for the Jews.
This is the introduction to the drama that is built in its further course on a love between the young count (who is in truth, as we know, the rabbi's son), and the rabbi's niece, Tsirele.
The correct name of the operetta should surely be "Tsirele," because almost everything revolves around her. There are three young people who are in love with her:
The young count (who is in truth still a Jew), the Jewish rabbi's son (who is in truth still a gentile, the count's son). And a pious young man Dovid'l (the rabbi's second son).
All three of them are deeply in love with the beautiful, young Tsirele, and the worlds are revolving around this.
And their love is varied: the count loves romantically, knightly, and he behaves like a true, elegant operetta lover; the idiot, of course, loves idiotically and in a raw way, with wild outbursts of simple-minded passion: and Dovid'l loves in a quiet, still manner as befits a rabbinical Dovid'l.
But Tsirele is not just anyone: she is not only young and beautiful, but she is also well educated (she even studied in a university); she is thus wise to the world, and she philosophizes so, that even the count stops for a while at a frying pan [fritshmelieter] with his mouth open.
Around all the three loves for Tsirele there are quite a bit of melodramatic and comical scenes, accompanied by singing numbers, as it conducts itself in an operetta. It goes through romantic scenes between the young count and Tsirele, comic scenes between them both and the idiot, and some unrealistic scenes between Dovid'l and Tsirele. But the end is, of course, more or less a happy one: the young count becomes emphatic as a Jew and finally wins his beloved Tsirele for his bride. Dovid'l is pleased with the discovery, and the Jewish idiot becomes transformed into a gentile idiot, and the son of the old count with the countess.
Seymour Rechtzeit as Dovid'l is quite successful. He sings fine, in a touching way, the song, "Tsirele, My Tsirele," and also plays quite well.
The rabbi is played by Irving Honigman, according to the usual pattern of rabbis in an operetta.
In the role of the rabbi's sexton, Abraham Lax is amusing, with his comical features; he feels a sense of rhythm in his playing, singing and dancing.
The role of the old count and his wife are played with weirdness by Boris Auerbach and Rose Greenfield.
Esther Field here is a rabbi's wife, a Jewish mother. Her song that begs for a "complete recovery" was received sentimentally by the audience.
Special recognition here is due Marietta Alva, for the dance that she arranged. They are held in this style, in the character of the dramatic action. She alone dances, also in all of the numbers, and she stands out from the dancers with her liveliness, flexibility and rhythmicity.
The sets by Michael Saltzman are perfectly passable and pleasing to the eye.
In general the new operetta, "Sunrise," musically is of the better offerings, which we have lately had on the Yiddish stage; it is an operetta at which one may wish to spend an evening in a pleasant manner.
Copyright © Museum of the Yiddish Theatre. All rights reserved.