Monday, March 4, 2013

Dark Monday • Jeanette MacDonald

Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy in Naughty Marietta photo NaughtyMarietta-Still3_zps6530a90d.jpg
Nelson Eddy & Jeanette MacDonald in the film 'Naughty Marietta.

I thought it might be nice to check out the music from a 1910 Broadway operetta that didn't make it to the big screen until 25 years later. The movie 'Naughty Marietta' marked the first time Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy were paired together, but it certainly wasn't the last. Both were considered among the best singers of the day, and both proved to have the charisma to carry many a film. MacDonald was born and raised in Philadelphia, and from an early age showed much promise. At first she sang along with her mother's opera records, and was still quite young when taking dance lessons. She was soon appearing in shows around Philadelphia, and was discovered by actor Richard Dix, who had her go out to Hollywood to audition and screen test for his next film. With the advent of the 'talking pictures', Hollywood was searching for talent, and found it in MacDonald. 'Naughty Marietta' in some ways was a classic story of love and disguise. It begins with Marie, a Spanish Princess who ran away rather than take part of an arranged marriage with an elderly Count. She leaves with her young maid, Marietta, to avoid her life. Along the way, there are pirates, mistaken identity, and, of course, love. It has music by Victor Herbert and lyrics by Rida Johnson Young, who also wrote the book. But perhaps the most famous song from the operetta was sung the the talented Ms. MacDonald. Here is "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" from the 1935 movie, from the movie 'Naughty Marietta'.

Of course, It would be just wrong to leave Jeanette alone in the spotlight. Nelson Eddy was born in Providence, Rhode Island, but as a teen moved to Philadelphia with his mother following his parent's divorce. There he worked as a clerk in a plumbing supply house, while continuing to sing in church choirs. He was self-taught, singing with recordings of the top opera stars of the day. Soon he was singing in recitals around Philadelphia, which lead to a gig with the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company. He became more and more visible, and began to train with some of the top names in New York. And it wasn't long before he answered the call from Hollywood. And his first role was in 'Naughty Marietta', playing the male lead, Captain Richard Warrington. He, of course, falls for the beautiful young maid, not knowning she really was a princess. Here he is, singing "The Owl and the Polecat".

You can purchase the soundtrack to 'Naughty Marietta' on iTunes and Amazon.

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