New Moon

The New Moon is the name of an operetta with music by Sigmund Romberg and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Frank Mandel, and Laurence Schwab. The show was the third and last in a string of Broadway hits for Romberg (after The Desert Song (1924) and The Student Prince (1925). It spawned a number of revivals and film versions and is still played by light opera companies.

The operetta opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on September 19, 1928, ran for 519 performances, and closed at the Casino Theatre on December 14, 1929. The production used set designs by Donald Oenslager. The work was produced in London’s West End in 1929. The operetta was restaged faithfully in 1988 by the New York City Opera and was telecast by PBS in 1989. The Light Opera of Manhattan staged the work several times in the 1980s.

Robert is a young French aristocrat whose revolutionist inclinations force him to flee his country. He sells himself as a bond-servant to planter and ship owner Monsieur Beaunoir and his family in New Orleans in 1792 under an assumed name. Because the Paris police are looking everywhere for him, Robert cannot tell Beaunoir or his beautiful daughter Marianne, with whom he has fallen in love, that he is of noble blood. Eventually he is tracked down by Vicomte Ribaud, the detective villain, and put aboard The New Moon so that he can be returned to France. Robert thinks he has been betrayed by Marianne, who has gained her father’s consent to travel on the same ship, pretending she is in love with Captain Duval. A mutiny occurs, and Robert and the bond-servants come into power. Everyone goes ashore on the Isle of Pines, and a new republic is founded. It flourishes under Robert’s guidance. But Marianne, her pride hurt, at first refuses to marry Robert. French ships arrive, apparently to reclaim the island. Vicomte Ribaud expects them to conquer the island for the King of France. But the French Commander reveals that there has been a revolution in France, and that all aristocrats like himself must die unless they renounce their titles. Ribaud, a Royalist, heads for execution, but republican Robert renounces his title. All ends happily for him and Marianne.

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