The South Australian Light Opera Society (SALOS) is an amateur musical company that digs deeply into the dusty archives, reviving oft neglected operettas.
Romberg’s 'The Desert Song' is their latest reminder that light opera does not begin and end with Gilbert and Sullivan. SALOS’s David Roberts writes an open letter setting the scene for this exotic romantic tale.
“Set in Morocco, ['Desert Song'] centres around a band of Arab rebels (the Riffs) fighting against the French Foreign Legion who have an outpost there. Their leader, the dashing Red Shadow (Graham Loveday), is actually Pierre, the son of the governor of the province, General Birabeau (David Roberts). In order to preserve his secret identity, Pierre pretends to be a milksop as a result of a beating at the hands of an earlier governor.
Pierre falls in love with the delightfully sassy Margot Bonvalet (Victoria Coxhill) who has followed her fiancé, Captain Paul Fontaine (Vincent Donato) to the outpost. In true operetta style, Margot becomes infatuated with the Red Shadow, confessing that she dreams of being swept off her feet and carried away by a handsome sheik.
Further complications arise as Benny (Peter Potts) and Susan (Roslyn Fleming) become involved with the Riffs. They are captured and taken to the harem of Caid Ali Ben Ali (Greg Paterson). Here, all are entertained by exotic dancer Clementina (Heather Hutton) while a native girl, Azuri (Justine Lewis), plots to capture the love of her life, Captain Fontaine.
An enthusiastic chorus, in colourful costumes of the era, join with the principals in singing Romberg’s wonderful melodies, 'Romance', 'The Desert Song', 'One Alone' and 'The Riff Song' under the baton of conductor Helen Loveday. 'The Desert Song' is directed by Brian Godfrey, with Musical Director Peter Potts, Choreographer Heather Hutton and Repetiteur Sue Penhale at the piano.”
– David Roberts
'The Desert Song' runs at the Tower Arts Centre from 27-30 April.