Monday, August 01, 2005

To Look Upon My Love

Robert Wright, of the team of Wright and Forrest that wrote the songs for the musical Kismet, has died.

This post gives some details on what Borodin melodies Wright and Forrest adapted for Kismet. It was, as they said, a lot more than just picking a melody and setting it; some of the songs in Kismet have as much original composition in them as they do Borodin, and some of them are completely original melodies.

Their best non-adapted score was for Kean, a strange existentialist comic operetta about the great English actor, based on a play by Jean-Paul Sartre. Written by Peter Stone, Kean was about the inability of Kean (Alfred Drake) to separate the stage from reality, his quest to determine who he is offstage -- culminating in his realization that only in performance does he become anything special: "You make me real," he sings to the audience. Wright and Forrest's score, a mixture of overripe operetta ballads and period comedy numbers, served Drake very well, and the show should have been a bigger success than it was. "To Look Upon My Love," a duet contrasting Kean's romantic fantasies with his valet's attempts to call his attention to bills ("We owe the jeweler for the diamond solitaire!"), was probably the best number in the show, and the classical-flavored "Sweet Danger" had some success at the time.

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