Leo FALL (1873-1925)
Die Dollarprinzessin (1907) [87:00]
Olga - Tatjana Iwanow; Couder - Horst Niendorf; Alice - Gabriele Jacoby; Freddy Wehrburg - Gerhart Lippert; Daisy - Regina Lemnitz; Hans von Schlick - Stefan Behrens; Dora - Ingrid van Bergen; Miss Mibbs - Käte Jaenicke; Liftboy - Randolf Rose; Tom - Ulrich Beiger; Dick - Ulrich del Mestre
Symphony Orchestra Kurt Graunke, Munich/Bert Grund
Kurt Berthold - production manager
Klaus Überall - direction
rec. filmed 1971
subtitles in English, French and German
Region Code 0, DVD 9 NTSC; Picture format 4:3; Sound format: PCM stereo
Leo Fall was the son of a military bandmaster. He received a thorough musical training, studying with Robert Fuchs at the Vienna Conservatory and later played as a violinist alongside Franz Lehár in the band conducted by the latter’s father. His first success was Die Fidele Bauer, first produced in Mannheim in 1907, a splendid recording of which I reviewed last year. It was followed by Die Dollarprinzessin (The Dollar Princess) which had already been commissioned for Vienna and was produced there with great success in November of that year. Versions followed in 1908 in England and in 1909 in New York. Both were heavily rewritten as was usual at that time, the version for London being by Basil Hood and Adrian Ross and that for New York being by George Grossmith Junior and including additional songs by Jerome Kern.
The plot was absolutely up to the minute, concerning an American millionaire who employs penniless European nobility in menial positions. His daughter has a similarly hardboiled approach to wealth but she is nonetheless rejected initially when she falls in love with the friend of one of these employees. The plot and setting presented opportunities for such up-to-the minute delights as a chorus of typists and an ensemble about a motor journey. It has virtually disappeared from the English-speaking stage but still has occasional performances in Europe. The version on this disc, although drastically altered musically, suggests that revival is well overdue but preferably in a version closer to the composer’s original scoring.
What we have here is a version by Bert Dreyer which brings the music into the idioms of the 1970s, with crude additional melodies and re-scoring. Frankly it is terrible, but it is possible to listen through it and hear what charm the original must have - I have only heard a few excerpts from the latter. The performers make the most of what they are given, for the most part using a vocal style to match the arrangements but every so often one can hear what they might have been capable of if permitted the composer’s original version. The “stage” direction is lively, sometimes excessively so, with dance scenes reminiscent of light entertainment shows of the 1970s.
Despite all of this I enjoyed it from beginning to end, even while wishing that it had been done differently. All the indignities heaped on the music are not enough to take away its essential charm or the interest of the plot, and the performers are all clearly experienced in putting this kind of piece over convincingly. There is plenty of room in the catalogues for a CD or DVD of the work which is closer to the original, but in the meantime this outrageously rewritten version is well worth seeing for its own - very different - merits and for the clues it gives as to those of Fall’s original.  

John Sheppard 

Frankly terrible but I enjoyed it from beginning to end.