Benatzky: Der König mit dem Regenschirm
CD Walhall 0264
In his interesting sleeve notes (in English only; how many English speakers are going to buy this quintessentially German piece ?) Kevin Clarke concludes with: “ Still, as a reminder of post-war operetta history in Germany this RIAS-version – issued on CD for the first time ever – is priceless. It also refrains from the later, unfortunate operetta ideal of casting shows with opera singers who over-sing and under-act the music.” Well, if you like under-sung, indeed more spoken than sung “character voices “ as Mr. Clarke puts it so deftly than this is indeed priceless. Do not fear that you will hear a voice that would be able to sing the impressive roles of Ruiz, baron Douphol, mamma Lucia or Anina. Such singers would be vocal eagles compared to the meagre squawks put forward by these paragons of real operetta style as preferred by Mr. Clarke. But act they can, indeed they must as the label is careful not to include time trackings so that the prospective non –German speaking or even German speaking customer will note that there is almost more dialogue than music; even an interminable stretch on CD 1 of more than ten minutes. Nevertheless if your idea of high comedy is a French former minister who speaks German mixed with simple Italian (or so the audience is expected to think of it), then you are in for a treat. Very funny indeed. The fact that this show (the correct word ) at its première was directed by later movie director Otto Preminger may be an encouragement for Hollywood-historians but this reviewer would still have liked a real operetta instead of  a rather dated German cabaret with a silly story line. There is one song “Mal geht man links, mal geht man rechts” that reminds one vaguely of the composer of White Horse Inn but I wouldn’t have you think that this recording has similarities with pieces recorded by oversinging non-actors as Richard Tauber, Fritz Wunderlich, Nicolai Gedda, Sandor Konya etc.

Jan Neckers