Land of Smiles

Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns must have seemed old fashioned even when it opened in 1929 in a Berlin that had already seen Wozzeck and Die Dreigroschenoper.  With its waltzes and gentle chinoiserie it looks back rather than forward musically and makes few demands on its listeners.  Similarly, the plot; a bittersweet romance between an Austrian aristocrat and a Chinese prince had nothing in it to disturb contemporaries though modern audiences might find the cultural appropriation a bit hard to take.  However, if Turandot doesn’t bother you this likely won’t either.

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