Saturday, November 30, 2019

Putting it Together - Minuet Chorus

Today's post provides a rich backstory on my latest YouTube video, the "Minuet Chorus" from L. Frank Baum and Paul Tietjens's 1901 first draft version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This video recording marks the first time anyone has paired these lyrics to this music since 1901.

I am quite proud of this discovery, reuniting Baum's lyrics of the "Minuet Chorus" from  Act II of the 1901 first draft Wizard of Oz script with the original Tietjens music, though it took me awhile to fit the puzzle pieces together. While the "Minuet Chorus" was cut from the show by the next draft, Baum and Tietjens liked the music well enough that Baum wrote new lyrics for it, turning it into the "Poppy Song."

When I first obtained a copy of Baum's 1901 libretto I did not immediately make a connection between Baum's "Minuet chorus" lyrics and Tietjens's "Poppy" music, in part because Baum's lyrics seldom sit on the melody well, so the relationship of the "Minuet" lyrics to the published "Poppy Song" sheet music was not particularly evident. But the performance version of the "Poppy Song" in Witmark's stock-rental package contains a much longer version of the "Poppy Song," including a "B" section not in the sheet music version. The B section is part of the Poppy ballet in the produced show. This B section perfectly fits Baum's lines "Glide—with proud and stately stride!" I sang the "Minuet" lyrics to the full length Poppy arrangement and the rest of the words fell right into place.

Paul Tietjens was very proud of this piece of music. In November of 1903, when Tietjens was in New York City preparing to sail for Europe, he visited W. W. Denslow and his wife in their new NYC home. Also attending the dinner were Grace Duffie Boylan and Denslow's old friend Charles W. Waldron, who later wrote of that evening in the Lewiston [ME] Journal on Feb 17:
After dinner we listened to some of the finest music it has ever been my luck to hear, as Paul Tietjens treated us to selections from The Wizard of Oz. Some of the music was grand. A minuet from the opera was one of the sweetest numbers, full of melody and well balanced. It was a regret to the composer that more was not made of it in the opera. Denslow suggested that it could come in during a snow storm after the poppy field scene and should be stepped out by eight maidens dressed in spotless white and arrayed in furs. It was a happy thought and may be arranged in the future. This minuet should be as popular as the lullaby in Erminie. It was to my ear much prettier.
But Baum and Tietjens had been fond of this music even before it was introduced into the early draft of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Tietjens originally wrote the music for his first collaboration with Baum, the now-abandoned comic opera The Octopus.

Through Tietjens's journal we can follow the writing process of the song.

On the morning of April 18, 1901, Paul Tietjens arose and went for a morning walk. He'd had a quarrel with his friend Ike Morgan the night before and the two were not speaking to each other. After the walk Tietjens spent all morning working on his piano technique, took a break for lunch, and returned to the piano to continue his exercises. But during his afternoon exercises he developed "the nucleus of a Minuet. I think it promises to be a real good one." The next morning Tietjens and Morgan made up their differences at breakfast.

Ten days later, Tietjens again mentions that "the Minuet is in the nucleus," but makes it clear he intends to use it in Act II of The Octopus.

On May 4 Tietjens recorded, "I worked at the Minuet this morning and have now all of the material for it, but have not decided how to put it in the opera."

That evening Tietjens walked to the Studebaker Theatre to see The Pirates of Penzance, which Tietjens liked very much indeed.

The Pirates of Penzance at the Studebaker Theatre, Spring 1901.
[The Pirates of Penzance] is not the style of opera we are writing. The second act consisted of nothing but music, and the comic element was subordinated to it. While it has very little music in it that can be remembered or whistled by the average operagoer, it is replete with beautiful music that is not above the heads of the audience.
Tietjens also jotted down . . .
. . . a remark that was made by a young lady sitting behind me. She spoke of it not being funny in a dissatisfied sort of way. The people want to be amused after all, and that is the reason our opera ought to be a success, for it certainly is funny enough . . .
Tietjens continued his work on The Octopus, seemingly jumping from number to number, each in a different state of completion. On May 6, he noted, "Have made some alterations in the Minuet and have now gotten it almost the way I want it." Tietjens finished arranging "The Minuet" on May 9, 1901.

Years later, in the July 7, 1909, issue of the San Francisco Call, Baum told a fanciful story about how the Wizard of Oz stage show came to be written. Baum has compressed the history and deleted any mention of The Octopus, but he ends the story stating that Tietjens used the "Minuet" as an audition piece to entice Baum into adapting The Wizard of Oz for the stage.
[Tietjens] sat down at the piano and began to play. It was a minuet, a delicate, dreamy morceau, so dainty in conception, so rippling with melody that I drew a long breath when the last sweet notes died away. It was afterward the famous "Poppy chorus" in The Wizard of Oz.
While Baum's chronology is out of order, his fondness for Tietjens's melody seems authentic. The music began as a number in the Fancy-Dress Ball in The Octopus, it became a "Minuet Chorus" for the Attendants of the Wizard in the earliest draft of The Wizard of Oz, and finally found its home in the deadly Poppy Field.

Copyright © 2019 David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Opening Prayer - Part V

The following in an excerpt from my forthcoming book. Please note, this early draft does not reflect corrections, changes, and more recent discoveries. There may be substantial differences between the following text and that to be included in the final work.  —David Maxine


“But tell us,” asks the Tin Woodman, “how you handed out the hot air to these Emerald City folks, and held your job so long when we got onto you the first rattle out of the box.” 

The Wizard sings his reply:

When you want to fool the public you will
Find that all you need to do
Is just to blink your eyes
And look extremely wise
And tell ’em you are quite a few!
For everybody loves to feed a fake
They love to cry “Gee Whiz!”
“How wonderful it is!”
No matter how absurd your schemes;
That’s right,
It’s a sight
To watch the ninnies bite!

Just humbug the people well
If ever you wish to excel;
Their future foretell or work ’em a spell—
They’ll never get on to the fact that it’s a sell.
It’s a cinch you never let any of the Emerald City people hear you sing or you’d be looking for a new job long ago.

“Hold on a minute,” says Oz. “I’m not a wizard, but it may be I can fix you up with what you want. “ Oz goes to a cupboard [somewhere on stage] to retrieve a “book of recipes”  left behind by the previous wizard.

Let’s see.—brains—brains—calves’ brains—

That won’t do. I draw the line right there. I’m willing to stand for any old kind of brains you’ve got left over, shop-worn goods, marked down, from the bargain basement or any other kind except calves’ brains.

Oz continues flipping through the recipe. “Here we are—“brains for scarecrows.” Oz returns to the cupboard, to fetch a bowl, a box of bran, and needles and pins. Dorothy asks why Oz is adding the latter ingredients.

To make him sharp, of course.
(to Scarecrow) You’re stuck.

Oz rips open the Scarecrow’s head, inserts the brains, and sews it back up—much like he does in the book. Oz is now ready for the Tin Woodman, offering a heart that was left behind by a young fellow who had committed suicide.

Baum seems unable to make up his mind who his audience is. The tone of this script shifts wildly from the child-friendly and overly-cute Munchkins, forced to box each other’s ears, to this gruesome origin for the Tin Woodman’s heart. Horrors aside, the scene is long and over complicated. The Tin Woodman and Oz discuss the suicide victim’s former girlfriend, if the Tin Woodman will take the heart with him or have it sent, finally enacting some awkward stage business where the Wizard cuts open the Woodman’s chest and then patches it after installing the heart. 

(To Dorothy) And now it’s your turn. Is there anything in the book that will help you out?

Is there a first-class ticket to Kansas there, including a lower berth in the sleeper?

I’m afraid not. The old wizard who got up this book never heard of Kansas and did all his riding on a broomstick.

Then must I stay forever in this awful country?

You ought to be able to stand it. You have lived in Kansas.

The Wizard suggests Dorothy travel to Glinda the Good, who lives in the South. “She is not a humbug and therefore has never become as powerful with the people as I am.” The wizard lets the trio in on a secret, too. 

I’m going away myself just as soon as I can. [. . .] I’ve got a big balloon here ready to make my escape [. . .] I’m afraid there is something doing right now and I’m going to have the airship ready to sail at a moment’s notice.

He asks Dorothy if she would like to accompany him in the balloon.

Could we reach Glinda’s country?

That depends on how the wind blows. We’ll see this afternoon.

This curious bit of information means that all of Act II up to this point has been happening before noon.

In the meantime I will have some of my people do a few stunts so you can see how it feels to be a real potentate.

Oz announces, “Let the revels begin,” and invites Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and Tin Woodman to join him on the throne to watch the entertainment—much like Clara watches the Russian, Chinese, and Arabian dances in the ballet of The Nutcracker. These Emerald City “revels” will be developed into the “Ball of All Nations” celebration the Wizard calls for in the produced show. And the script doctors will have the sense to allow the stars to perform, not just sit and watch the chorus.

The Wizard’s attendants enter (sixteen men and women) dressed in court costumes trimmed with mystic emblems. They sing and dance a Minuet. The music is that of the “minuet” from the fancy-dress ball in Act II of The Octopus. This same music will eventually become the “Poppy Song” in the produced version of the show.

“Minuet Chorus”
Sung and danced by eight men and eight women

In the throne room of Oz,
the Mighty one,
We daintily tread,
Who so graceful and so fascinating?
Who so coy and captivating?
All the mazes of courtly minuets
We skillfully tread,
We are glowing with delight while
Into the dance we are led.

While the strains of soft music float
Our very souls to ensnare,
We can never, never, tire of dancing—
Every motion is entrancing!
[Line missing here]
Ev’ry heart free from care;
There’s an ecstasy in each step
That’s far beyond all compare!

Glide—with proud and stately stride!
And then with spirits gay
We slowly whirl away.
Bow—to ev’ry partner now!
And then with perfect grace
We chassez to our place.

Oz introduces Dorothy and her friends to his Courtiers, presenting the trio as fellow wizards come to learn a few new tricks before traveling on to visit Glinda the Good.

The Guardian of the Gates enters and warns they will never reach Glinda. “The road is beset with dangers. The woods are full of terrible monsters.”

You are the worst man I ever saw for trying to stir up trouble.

The Guardian also warns Oz that the people of the Emerald City think the Wizard’s powers may be waning. Oz decides it’s time to depart.

“Finale Act II”
OZ: A man may circumnavigate the globe—
CHORUS: In sixty days

OZ: Or fly through the air, the birds to emulate—
CHORUS: In many ways!

OZ: The secrets of the planets he may probe—
CHORUS: With microscopes!

OZ: But no one yet has ever conquered fate!
CHORUS: Or ever hopes—
To conquer fate—
To conquer fate!

Though your strength be great,
Though of wisdom you may prate
Though you bluster like an eastern potentate;
Though you early work and late,
Though you’re strictly up-to-date—
’Tis beyond your power to ever conquer fate!

TIN WOODMAN: A man may win the love of any maid—
CHORUS: If he can last!

SCARECROW: Or in his head a pot of brains locate—
CHORUS: Of knowledge vast!

DOROTHY: Or face an awful danger undismayed
CHORUS: By any fear!

DOROTHY: But trembles when he’s face to face with fate—
CHORUS: And that is queer!

No man is great
Enough for fate!
Though his strength be great,
Though of wisdom he may prate
Though he blusters like an umpire at the plate
Though to knuckle he may hate,
Though he’s not a cowardly skate—
’Tis beyond your power to ever conquer fate!

Then let us bow to fate’s most stern decree,
Since from her thrall, we never are free;
Men are but puppets, buffeted through life,
Helpless to stem the tide of woe and strife.
Yet there’s a Fate that kindly seems to be,
Granting us pleasures, as you’ll agree;
Courage will often coax a smile from Fate,
So let us courage cultivate!

Baum's Act II finale does little to advance the plot, but perhaps the last couple lines were Baum's attempt at working the "courage" theme back into the show after cutting the Cowardly Lion at the end of Act I.

The "Finale Act II" is followed by a “Transformation scene showing outside of palace with Oz ascending in balloon, others waving goodbye to him."

Baum's own description of the "Transformation" at the end of Act II.

There is no indication of any action or point when Oz leaves to prepare the balloon. And no further discussion of his taking Dorothy to Glinda. We must assume the winds were blowing the other way.


Copyright © 2019 David Maxine. Allrights reserved.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Opening Prayer - Part IV

The following in an excerpt from my forthcoming book. Please note, this early draft does not reflect corrections, changes, and more recent discoveries. There may be substantial differences between the following text and that to be included in the final work.  —David Maxine

Act II

Scene 1 – “The Gates of the Emerald City.”

The Guardian of the Gate is discovered alone, standing near a large box of spectacles by a gateway. This character is a combination of two characters from the book, the Guardian of the Gate (seen at left) and the Soldier with the Green Whiskers (seen below).

In the script the Guardian acquires the soldier's green whiskers, and he tags along with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and Tin Woodman for most of Act II, and he shows up again at the end of Act III.

The Guardian sings “I’m Here to Keep the People Out,” later renamed “The Guardian of the Gate.” 

I’m here to keep the people in and keep them out.
For none can thro’ the portals pass while I’m about
Beyond’s the Emerald City where the Wizard rules in state,
And I’m the man that guards the gate, the guardian of the gate.

The gate, the gate, the gate. the gate
The glitt'ring, glist'ning gate.
However grand and fine you be
However humble don't you see,
You've got to get the key of me—
The guardian of the gate!

(Enter Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman)

Well, here we are at last!

Yes, here we are in the park. There’s the greenhouse and this old boy with the emerald alfalfa on his lunch room will probably make us keep off the grass.

I’m sure Baum thought the Scarecrow’s joke-filled line clever, but it’s not good stage dialogue. The sentence reads okay, but the cadence is off. There’s nowhere for the actor to breathe. No matter how well enunciated, the line would be hard to understand spoken on stage, especially in the pre-microphone era. Worse still, there are five jokes buried in the single run-on sentence. If anyone laughed at the first or second joke, the latter three would go unheard, obscured by the laughter. This is the sort of problem that necessitates the eventual script doctors.

After the Guardian of the Gate tells the Ozzy trio that if they are “peddlers, canvassers or book-agents they will have to go around to the rear gate,” the Tin Woodman launches into another of Baum’s dense and impenetrable speeches:

No, we’re not going to weaken now. We may do a lot of queer things but the one thing we absolutely and positively decline to do is to weaken at this stage of the game. We demand an audience with Mr. Oz. I represent the tin trust and my weedy friend with the open countenance is a commissioner from the mattress trust. This young lady represents one of the great Sunday newspapers and intends to ask Oz how he enjoys the wizard business and take six or eight photographs of him while he is answering him [sic]. If she can catch him eating his breakfast or lounging in his pajamas, all the better.

Speeches like that make one wonder if Baum was expecting to be paid by the word.

The Scarecrow is still fixated on the Guardian’s green whiskers. 

You don’t see ’em as bad as this even in Kansas, do you? (Handling Guardian’s green whiskers) If you could take Willie back there with you he’d be governor inside of a year. He must be a brother to the long, Sutherland seven-haired sisters [sic].

The Scarecrow’s garbled joke makes reference to the “Seven Sutherland Sisters,” a singing group from the 1880s to early 1900s that performed with Barnum and Bailey.
The Seven Sutherland Sisters and their 37 feet of hair.
The sisters collectively sported over thirty-seven feet of hair. I hope it’s the brainless Scarecrow, and not Baum, that is getting his words out of order in that line of dialogue.

The Guardian fits Dorothy and her friends with spectacles so they won’t be “blinded by the splendor of the city.” The Tin Woodman suggests the Scarecrow should be given “field glasses.” Sometimes Baum’s jokes are actually good.

Scene 2 – “The Throne Room of Oz.”

“Walls covered by mystic emblems. —Large vacant throne in center, masked by green at back, shaped like a pair of out-stretched silver wings. —Chorus of astrologers, witches, necromancers, sorcerers, etc. in background and either side of the great throne.”

The Guardian leads Dorothy and her companions into the throne room. He stays with them during their audience with the Wizard. The chorus, as described above, sings:
Now, who thus dares to penetrate
The throne room of our master great?
The wise are those who hesitate
To aggravate this potentate!
Should you to see his face aspire
He’ll gratify your rash desires; [sic]
Yet strangers always rouse his ire
And oft expire before they retire!

Which of those queer looking frights is the wonderful wizard?

The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman join Dorothy in mocking the attendants. While the assorted magic workers hums a reprise of their chorus, the Wizard’s voice announces, “I am coming!” and a great head appears above the throne.

SCARECROW: We’re going to have a full moon, ain’t we?

DOROTHY: Hush! You will anger him and then he won’t send me back to Kansas.

I don’t think he could send anybody anywhere. Did you ever see such a swelled head?

 The Wizard and Chorus of Magic Workers sing “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Oh, he is the wonderful wizard of Oz,
The wizard of Oz is he,
There isn’t a juggle can cause him a struggle,
He’s a marvel of mystery!
He’s practiced in sorcery, magical lore
Is never a bother to him anymore,
He’s dazzled and frazzled the jays by the score,
He’s the wonderful wizard of Oz.
OZ (as Head):
Hear me! Fear me!
Never dare to queer me
I’m the greatest necromancer ever was!
All my deeds with magic reek,
I’m the whole thing so to speak,
I’m the wonderful wizard of Oz!
Hear him, fear him;
Never dare to queer him,
He's the greatest necromancer ever was,
All his deeds with magic reek,
He's the whole thing, so to speak,
He's the wonderful wizard of Oz. 

Dorothy asks the great head to send her back to Kansas. “I never grant favors without some return,” the head responds. “What can you do for me?” Little does the Wizard realize that he just gave Dorothy an excuse to perform.

Oh, good gracious! I can’t do anything—except sing and dance a little bit.
OZ (as Head):
Then sing and dance while I think over your request.

The Great Head vanishes and Dorothy sings:

Oh, I long to be in Kansas
Where the flowers and blizzards blow,
Don’t you know
How they blow
In Kansas?
Where the fatted pigs are blooming
And the girls are unassuming,
Do you think
You would wink
In Kansas?

Dorothy dances while she sings the chorus: 

Yet I long to be in Kansas
For the place is home to me,
I’m as free as a flea,
In Kansas.
Where the scent of corn bread rises
And the pumpkin in the pies is—
I am gay
All the day
In Kansas.

Advertisement for Madame Yale cosmetics.
After the number, the form of a lovely lady appears on the throne. “Here comes Madame Yale!” cries the Tin Woodman. Madame Yale was a purveyor of beauty treatments, anti-aging creams, and an early advocate of cosmetics.

Introduce me to your friend. This is the only live one I’ve seen in the Palace. I wonder if it’s Mrs. Oz. He’s got an awful face to cop out a queen like that for himself.

The Wizard explains he is “ever-changing” and has “the power to assume any form.”

Baum clearly wanted the lengthy scene to be spectacular—he even preserves all four of the Wizard’s transformations from the book, though he gives no hint as to how the effects should be staged. But the long scene would have been much stronger if Dorothy and her friends had been awestruck by the Wizard’s transformations rather than joke and poke fun at them. The cynical, mocking humor undercuts the spectacle. The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman’s jibes would have had much more power, and been a lot funnier, if they came only after the Wizard was exposed as a humbug.

After much banter, the Scarecrow finally asks for brains. The wizard refuses the request and the chorus of magic-workers softly sings: 

Alas for the man, who has little in his noddle that he knows!
He’s under a ban and is called a rattle-pate where’er he goes.
 The Lady disappears and is replaced by a huge, crab-like beast. 

O-o-o-oh! What’s that!

It looks like a deviled crab.

The Tin Woodman makes his request for a heart while the magic workers sing:
When you love, love, love in mad delirium,
When to love, love, love, that’s quite sincere you come . . .

During the softly sung chorus the Beast disappears, replaced by a glowing ball of fire, and the magic workers silently withdraw to the wings. What follows is one of Baum’s best scenes. Not only does the script tie into the music, but, like the Cowardly Lion’s scene, Baum is writing situational humor and stage action. 

OZ (as Voice):
Yes, love is madness. You are better off without a heart. Your request is refused.

TIN WOODMAN: (Weeping)
There! That’s the best I get after coming all these miles to see this old fakir. I might as well have stayed in the woods cutting down trees. Here I don’t even cut any ice. (Stops suddenly with mouth open, tries to close mouth with hands, waves arms, etc.)

Well, it is a pity that the poor woodman cannot have his heart after taking that long journey.

Yes, now he won’t have the heart to go home again.

Why, whatever is the matter with him?

What a frank, open countenance he has! It looks like the LaSalle Street tunnel!

Oh, I know! He has been crying and his jaws have rusted again. Get the oil-can quick.

It keeps me busy rushing the can for this fellow. Here you are. These joints can’t be allowed to stay open all night! (Oils Tin Woodman, etc.)

The Scarecrow finally notices Oz has become a ball of fire. "Why, you're all lit up, ain't you? . . . Don't he make the quickest moves, though? He's liable to be an apple dumpling the next time we look at him."

For no particular reason Dorothy removes her spectacles. "Why this is funny. My eyes are not dazzled a bit without these glasses. (To guardian) You're a fuzzy old faker."
Put ' em on, for heaven's sake. You'll all be blinded.
The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman remove their glasses, too.

I'll not stay and see you killed. (Rushes off.)

This is a fake.

It looks that way. (Runs forward and overturns a screen behind the throne, discovering OZ and the props he has used to represent him. Lights up.) Why what's all this?

(Raising axe over Oz.) Throw up your hands!

Oh, dear. I am Oz, the Great and Terrible, but please don't use your axe and I'll tell you all about it.
Somebody must have turned down the gas on that ball of fire. What are all these. Have you been stringing us.

The Scarecrow's last two lines suggest he's examining the Wizard's props and based on the pun in the last line, probably found they were operated by strings. But Baum has provided no such explanation.

What do you mean? Aren't you the Wonderful Wizard?
Oh, mercy! Don't you talk so loud or some of my people may overhear you. No, I'm only supposed to be a wizard. I'm only a common man.

Just like the rest of the wizards! What a lovely bunch of suckers we were to come pining through the woods to get our fortunes told by this geezer!

Copyright © 2019 David Maxine. All rights reserved.