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Friday, January 13, 2012

Louis Treumann & Johannes Heesters linked by Danilo

Louis Treumann, the original Danilo in the "Merry Widow"

I just finished reading an article in the Jewish Forward by Raphael Mostel about the spineless Dutch tenor Johannes Heesters who just passed away at the age of 108.  Mostel discusses the complete lack of conscious of the singer in favor of power and riches.  As a matter of point, Heesters never really found a problem with his actions during the War, even at the end of his life.  Mostel goes on to discuss Heesters relationship with Hitler via the role of Danilo in the "Merry Widow", Lehar's work and Hitler's favorite operetta.  So much so, that Hitler would go to hear Heesters sing Danilo night after night when in performance.  Mostel also mentions the two Jewish librettists of the work,  Leo Stein and Viktor Léon whom Hitler conveniently ignored, as he so loved the work.

The one fact missed in the article is that the role of Danilo was written for and created by the great Viennese operetta tenor, Louis Treumann, who just happened to be Jewish.  For the record he was murdered by the Nazi thugs in Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in 1944.  Treumann at the time of the War was retired, but literally a major celebrity up until Kristallnacht, where he was surreptitiously shunned by his non-Jewish friends who made no extraordinary effort to help him leave.  Treumann in his younger days was the go-to tenor of the Second Golden Age of Viennese Operetta and had created lead roles in major works by Kalman, Eysler, Ziehrer, Ascher and others and also other works by Lehar as well. To the memory of Treumann, Stein and Léon and the other Jews who created the works that Heesters used throughout his long life so he could live in prosperity.

Article in the Jewish Forward

A recording of Louis Treumann singing "O Vaterland" from the Merry Widow, 1906

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