Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Owen Hall, librettist (or, OK, One More Florodora Background Tidbit)

The standard references in the literature about the Florodora librettist Owen Hall (real name: James Davis, 10 April 1853 - 9 April 1907) are sparse, and on the whole, rather offhand. The pseudonym "Owen Hall" was an ironic nod ('owing all') towards his extensive debts. Another of his pseudonyms was "Payne Nunn." In fact, the was astoundingly prolific during the late Victorian and Edwardian era, and going from the text of our show, quite a good humorist and obviously a well-read literate fellow (as one might expect from a University of London graduate).

As evidence, Neil Midkiff writes of the lyrics in the clerk's sextet in act 1: "In reading a biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson, the English lexicographer, I was surprised to find a reference to "Tweedledum and Tweedledee" in a quotation from a 1782 letter from Boswell to another friend of Johnson. I had thought those names were invented by Lewis Carroll for _Through the Looking-Glass_, but it turns out that they date back at least to 1725, when an English poet and diarist compared Handel and Bononcini (then in rivalry for superiority in London's musical scene) to these indistinguishable pair of puny rivals from a traditional nursery rhyme."

No comments:

Post a Comment