Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel (Oxford Keynotes) (Paperback)

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel (Oxford Keynotes) By Tim Carter Cover Image
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Carousel (1945), with music by Richard Rodgers and the book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, was their second collaboration following the surprising success of Oklahoma (1943). They worked again with Theresa Helburn and Lawrence Langner of the Theatre Guild (producers), Rouben Mamoulian (director), and Agnes de Mille (choreographer). But with Oklahoma still running to sell-out houses, they needed to do something quite different.

Based on a play, Liliom (1909), by the Hungarian playwright Ferenc Moln r, Carousel took Broadway musical theater in far darker directions because of its subject matter-the protagonist, Billy Bigelow, is wholly an anti-hero-and also given its extensive music that some claimed came close to opera. The action is shifted from a gritty working-class suburb of Budapest to the New England coast (Maine), but the themes remain the same as two social misfits try to survive harsh economic times. Billy Bigelow is unemployed, prone to domestic violence, and dies in the course of committing a robbery; Julie Jordan sticks by him through thick and thin; and the show seeks some manner of redemption for both of them as Billy is given a day back on earth to do some good for his wife and their daughter. Troubling though these matters are nowadays, they fit squarely in the context of a country moving through the end of World War II to an uncertain future.

Not for nothing had composers such as Giacomo Puccini and Kurt Weill already tried to persuade Moln r to release his play. It also led Rodgers and Hammerstein to new heights: songs such as "If I Loved You," Billy's "Soliloquy," and "You'll Never Walk Alone" transformed the American musical. In this book, we discover how and why they came about, and exactly what Carousel was trying to achieve.

About the Author

Tim Carter is the author of books on opera and musical theater ranging from Monteverdi through Mozart to Rodgers and Hammerstein. Prior to moving to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001, he was head of the Music Department at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780190693442
ISBN-10: 0190693444
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: October 25th, 2017
Pages: 160
Language: English
Series: Oxford Keynotes