Devised, Written and Composed by Ivor Novello
Lyrics by Christopher Hassall
Produced at the Palace Theatre, London, 15 September, 1949
IVOR NOVELLO has an unerring instinct for knowing what the public wants in musical entertainment. King's Rhapsody, with its mid-European royal romance, lavish decor, melodious songs and colourful ballets, has been no exception, and however much the carping critic may protest as he looks back over a decade and a half of Novello mammoth musicals, that this is the mixture as before, the public continues to pack every house.
King's Rhapsody tells the story of the king of Murania (known as Nikki), who twenty years before the play begins had renounced his succession to the throne for love of his mistress, Marta Karillos, who, nevertheless, had been a good influence in his life. On the death of his father, the King, Nikki is persuaded by his mother, Queen Elana, to return from exile in Paris and marry the young Princess Cristiane of Norseland, and so provide the throne with an heir.
Characteristically Nikki is not at the palace to greet his bride-to-be when she arrives, and later, when he meets her for the first time, she is in her simple national costume and he takes her to be a lady-in-waiting. She does not disillusion him and they fall in love. Already Cristiane, whom Nikki believes he has not met, has angered him by demanding that he shall banish his mistress, and later outrages convention by inviting Marta Karillos to the Court Ball, so that she may take stock of the woman who is likely to be her enemy. Nikki revenges himself by opening the ball by dancing with Marta.
Nikki awaits news of the birth of his son while making merry at Marta's villa, but when an angry mob breaks in seeking Marta's life it is the young queen who saves her by saying she is her dear friend. Once Murania has an heir to the throne, the government is eager to be rid of Nikki, who has never been popular with them, and, with Queen Elana on their side, the King is prevailed upon to abdicate in favour of his infant son. He bids farewell to his now much-loved young wife, and goes into exile. Ten years later, in Paris, he is informed by the Ambassador for Murania teat he must not set foot in his own country, or make any attempt to see his son, who is about to be crowned king.
But Nikki is determined to witness his son's coronation and to see once again his beloved wife, and returns from exile, risking death. During the impressive ceremony in the Cathedral, Queen Cristiane, knowing secretly that Nikki is there, drops a white rose on the altar steps. When all have departed, Nikki picks up the rose, and is seen, a lonely figure, kneeling at the High Altar as the curtain falls.
The Original Opening Cast
Princess Kirsten PAMELA HARRINGTON
Princess Hulda WENDY WARREN
Mr. Trontzen JOHN PALMER
Countess Vera Lemainken OLIVE GILBERT
Princess Cristiane VANESSA LEE
King Peter of Norseland VICTOR BOGGETTI
Manservant HARRY FERGUSSON
Jules MICHAEL ANTHONY
Queen Elana of Murania ZENA DARE
Vanescu ROBERT ANDREWS
Nikki IVOR NOVELLO
Marta Karillos PHYLLIS DARE
Olga Varsov ANNE PINDER
Madame Koska JACQUELINE LE GEYT
Count Egon Stanieff DENIS MARTIN
Major Domo ERIC SUTHERLAND
Tormas GORDON DUTTSON
Boy King JOHN YOUNG
with the Pauline Grant Ballet and Lady and Gentlemen Choristers Directed by Murray MacDonald
For the Chorus
There are birthdays to celebrate, a King to greet, a betrothal to honour, a bride to serenade, royal amateur theatricals to rehearse and perform, a revolution to incite and a coronation to attend, all set to music by Novello at the height of his powers. General company appear as Norseland village peasants, mannequins, serenaders, palace guards and servants, ladies and gentlemen of the Court, dancers and singers of the Muranian Royal Ballet Company, coronation dignitaries and the people of Murania.
Countess Vera, her companion.
Count Egon, of the Royal Guard.
Prime Minister Vanescu.
Princesses Kirsten and Hulda, Cristiane's little cousins.
Countess Olga, a lady-in-waiting.
Madame Kiosk, a modest.
Marietta, a maid.
Trontzen, a dancing master.
King Peter, Cristiane's Father.
Jules, Nikki's valet.
Volkoff, a guest at Marta's Villa.
Three revolutionary roughs.
- Fly Home Little Heart
- The Gates of Paradise
- Take Your Girl
- The Violin Began To Play
- Mountain Dove
- If This Were Love
- Someday My Heart Will Awake
- Muranian Rhapsody
- The Mayor of Perpignan
- The Nigt You Were Mine
- Mother of Heaven
- The Legend of the Snow Princess
- Birthday Greetings
- Coronation Scene and Finale
- A room in Norseland's summer palace, 1880.
- An hotel room, Paris (inset).
- The walls of Bledz Palace (front drop).
- A boudoir in the palace.
- Under the boudoir window (inset).
- The palace ballroom
- Marta's villa
- The garden of Kalacz palace.
- An anteroom in the palace (inset).
- The royal box, Paris Opera House, in the 1890s (half set).
- Bledz Cathedral
1st Violins A, B and C, 2nd Violins Viola Cello Double Bass, Flute, Oboe, 2 Clarinets, 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Drums, Harp