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Backstage opera is a change from backstage Broadway
No one should expect a well-wrought, intricately developed plot from a film that was designed as a showpiece for the American baritone Laurence Tibbett,any more than one would expect it from a Warner's backstage musicals from the 1930s. Tibbett was one of the few stellar performers of the Metropolitan Opera who was equally at home and successful in popular music. (I believe at one time, toward the end of his opera career, he was featured on "Your Hit Parade", singing what were supposedly the five or six most popular songs of the week, judged by record sales.) At the Metropolitan Opera he played the lead in the premieres of American operas such as Merry Mount, Emperor Jones and The King's Henchmen. I believe that he made the first commercial recordings from Porgy and Bess as Porgy, using the same dialect as in this film when he sings the Negro spiritual "Glory Road" in a perhaps over-dramatic rendition. The role of Bess is sung by another Caucasian opera star. Helen Jepson,who made one more Hollywood appearance in the pathetic Goldwyn Follies.
The supporting cast of experience character actors,as often happens, manages to give the claptrap plot a measure of credibility. Virginia Bruce, the leading lady, was an actress/singer who never broke through to stardom, despite a lengthy filmography. She had a beautiful soprano voice and a lovely appearance, but did not project much warmth as in the manner of top stars, even in her one solo from Carmen, as the timid and loving Micaela. Her voice belonged in operetta, not in either opera or show business tunes. Jeanette MacDonald has the former cornered, and there were many with more sensuous voices who succeeded with the latter. But she did look terrific at the top of the "wedding cake" number in The Great Ziegfeld, the most prominent role of her career.
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