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Literally dazzling to the eye, splendiferous in its costuming and setting, "The Great Waltz" made another stop in its countrywide tour to open a return engagement of two weeks at the Boston Opera House last night. A brilliant mixture of singing, dancing, lovemaking and fireworks makes the whole melange a Roman Holiday in the nineteenth century manner, staged with all the gaudiness of twentieth century America.
The spectacle is delightfully studded with all the romantic Viennese cliches-handsome soldiers, sidewalk cafes, double weddings, fine pastries and beer, even a Russian countess. The costumes are shrill in color and changed with great frequency the better to dazzle the patrons. Excellent dancing by men and girl choruses and by a well trained Albertina Rasch ballet adds pleasing motion whenever the singing duet is carried away by one of its arias.
Of course the music is the spice, or rather, the sweetening of the evening. Waltz compositions of both the Strausses are played and sung at well-spaced intervals but occasionally they become syrupy. The musical comedy starts with the Radetsky March and ends with the climactic The Beautiful Blue Danube, played by the younger Strauss to an enraptured audience at the fashionable Dommayer beer garden. As the orchestra plays and the audience dances, the happy singing announces that Vienna has acclaimed a new waltz king, worthy successor of his own father.
As is only fitting in a musical comedy, the story is built to fit the songs and dances and achieves just the proper melodramatic touch in doing so. The elder Strauss, his waltzes on the lips of all Europe, is jealous of his son who shows a talent equal to his own, even if in a style abhorrent to the father. He thwarts his son's ambitions to lead an orchestra and play the waltzes he fears may become more popular than his own. But he is in good turn himself thwarted in his machinations, by nothing less than the intrigues of a Russian countess who has faith in the young Strauss. It is through her wiles that the son supplants his father, who is happily reconciled to his fate.
Except for a slight raggedness of singing and stage business, which may be ascribed to the fact that it was the opening evening, the performance ran off smoothly enough. Considering the magnitude of the stage effects and the number of changes, this is in the order of a compliment to the skillful production of Hassard Short. Imitating Hollywood to advantage, the producer has designed all sorts of clever and handsome sets that move about the stage with a rapidity that is as enjoyable to the spectators as the show itself. Possessing all the qualities of a best-seller musical comedy, with a long run already behind it, "The Great Waltz" appears to become something in the nature of an American custom.
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