Ball im Savoy

Ball im Savoy

Ball im Savoy (Ball at the Savoy) is an operetta in three acts and a prelude by Paul Abraham to a libretto by Alfred Grünwald and Fritz Löhner-Beda.

It premiered on 23 December 1932 at theMetropol-Theater, Berlin (today the Komische Oper Berlin) orat the Großes Schauspielhaus. [cite_web
url =
title = History of the Metropol Theatre in Berlin
accessdate = 2007-09-05
coauthors =
date = 2007-05-31
work = Operetta in Berlin at the Beginning of the 20ty Century
publisher = Operette in Berlin eV
language = German
] The English language premiere was on 8 September 1933 at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, under the title"Ball At The Savoy". [cite_web
url =
title = Play Pictorial4
accessdate = 2007-09-05
year = 1933
work = Play Pictorial, v.63, 1933, No.379
publisher = Templeman Library, University of Kent at Canterbury
quote = includes original cast list
] This was Abraham's last major success. [cite_web
url =
title = MUSICMATCH Guide: Paul Abraham (extended biography)
accessdate = 2007-09-05
author = Uncle Dave Lewis
quote = Abraham scored his final hit with Ball im Savoy

Although "Ball im Savoy" is a relatively recent operetta, its characters follow the classic scheme: Aristide (tenor) is a rueful rake, excruciated by the possible betrayal. Madeleine (soprano) is a more modern person, ready to give as good as she gets, albeit plagued by scruples: a feminist before the term existed, who receives approval from the other women. Mustafa represents the stock comic. More interesting is Daisy (soubrette): sly, brave, she knows what she wants and how to get it.

The music

The score is more modern than the libretto, using an abundance of foxtrots and Latin American dances like tango and paso doble. However, it also features the waltz in its classic shape, known as the "English Waltz". Sometimes - for example in the overture - Abraham inserts some more refined harmonic development, but only in sporadic flashes. His primary aim was, as he himself declared, to search for success, one eye to Broadway theatre and the other to the cinema.



Place and time: Venice, Nice, Paris; 1932


Venice, palaces at the Grand Canal of Venice

Act 1

Hall in a villa in Nice

The Marquis Aristide de Faublas and his wife Madeleine celebrate the return from their lengthy honeymoon in their villa in Nice, when a telegram from the dancer Tangolita arrives. In Aristide's turbulent past, he had promised her an intimate supper on a night of her choosing. Now she wants him to take her tonight to the annual Grand Ball at the Hotel Savoy. With the help of Mustafa Bey, Aristide persuades his wife that he has to go to the Savoy to meet the famous jazz musician José Pasodoble and that Madeleine can not go because the suitcase with her ball gown has not arrived. But Pasodoble is the pseudonym of Madeleine's American cousin, Daisy, so Madeleine now knows she is to be deceived.

Act 2

Foyer to the Ballroom of the Savoy in Paris

While Aristide meets his old friends from his bachelor days, Madeleine wants revenge. Hiding her face behind a veil, she flirts with Célestin Formant, a timid young man who hopes for the adventure of his life. Meanwhile, Mustafa is enchanted by Daisy.

Aristide and Tangolita withdraw for have supper to a private dining room at the hotel, as do Madeleine and the courting Célestin. During dinner, Aristide asks for the telephone in order to call his wife, but the waiter Pomerol, accustomed to these situations, diverts the line to Madeleine's dining room, so that she can answer, pretending to be at home. Deeply disappointed, Madeleine decides to succumb to Célestin. While José Pasodoble receives praise from the Savoy Hotel and reveals her true identity, Madeleine announces publicly to have betrayed her husband.

Act 3

Hall in a villa in Nice

Madeleine's revenge receives general approval, while Aristide gets enraged in doubt: did she or did she not? Since Madeleine continues to confirm the betrayal, the Marquis calls a lawyer in order to start divorce proceedings. The lawyer arrives: it is Célestin Formant, but even from him Aristide cannot discover whether the betrayal took place. Mustafa proposes marriage to Daisy -and this time for life- but only if Aristide and Madeleine get reconciled, so Daisy reveals the truth to Aristide, and the couple gets re-united.

Notable arias

*Bist du mir treu?
*Es ist so schön, am Abend bummeln zu geh'n
*Toujours l´Amour
*Wenn wir Türken küssen

Movie/TV adaptations

*imdb title|0139878|Ball im Savoy|(1935, or more probably 1934), Austria/Hungary
*imdb title|0027329|Ball at Savoy|(1936), UK
*imdb title|0958031|Ball in Savoy|(1964), (TV, BRT), Belgium
*imdb title|0856767|Ball im Savoy|(1971), (TV, ZDF), West Germany
*imdb title|0264870|Melodii odnoy operetty|(1978) (TV, Russia)


A few aspects of this work are uncertain: the libretto is sometimes credited to Leo Stein and Béla Jenbach. The surname of the two main protagonists is often spelled Faublais. In non-German productions, Daisy's surname seems interchangeably Darlington or Parker; incidentally, Daisy Parker was the name of Louis Armstrong's first wife. It is not clear in which theatre in Berlin it premiered. The release year of the first movie is given as 1934 or 1935.
Plot summary and Notes based on the text at .
*Details incl. roles: (German)
*Details incl instrumentation (German)
* [ Amadeus Almanac, accessed 20 August 2008]

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