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Du bist dos likht fun mayne oygn 04:37
 

Liner Notes

The love song Du bist dos likht fun mayne oygn (You Are the Light of My Eyes), with lyrics by Isidore Lillian, was one of the principal numbers in Rumshinsky’s 1937 musical comedy (billed as an operetta in the press), Yosl un zayne vayber (Yosl [Joseph] and His Wives), to a book and libretto by Louis Freiman. It is the story of the foolish immigrant shlimazl Yosl, who is in love with Reyzele, a blind young lady who remained behind in “the old country” when Yosl emigrated.

Yosl borrows enough money to bring Reyzele to America and to seek some medical attention that might alleviate her blindness, and he sends steamship tickets for her and her father. But her sister Rivke comes in her place, disguised as a newly cured and sighted Reyzele, and the gullible Yosl—after only a brief hesitation—is convinced that she is actually his Reyzele. When he introduces her to the wealthy friends who have lent him the money, she falls in love with one of them, who owns a mine. Of course she never had any intention of marrying Yosl and has simply availed herself of the opportunity to come to America, where just such luck might await her. Yosl is now without the bride he thought he had brought. But the real Reyzele manages to get to America and to reunite with Yosl. In the end, there are multiple weddings: Yosl and Reyzele, Rivke and her mine owner, and Yosl’s widowed mother with an elderly but sprightly widower.

Du bist dos likht fun mayne oygn is essentially Reyzele’s passionate expression of love for Yosl, in which she tells him that—as a blind girl—he and their love provide her sight and illuminate her world: “You are my sight, the light of my eyes.” Longing for her in America, Yosl, played by the inimitable Menashe Skulnik (who was also Rumshinsky’s business partner that year at the Kessler Second Avenue Theater, the two having just returned after a stint together at the Yiddish Folksteater), reminds himself of how Reyzele used to sing this song to him; and he reprises it at least once to himself, in effect quoting her song. It is also likely that the two of them repeated it together, at or toward the end of the show, with Reyzele singing the chorus, if not most of the introduction as well. The Milken Archive recording presents the song in its original expression of love for Yosl by Reyzele. The published folio emphasized Skulnik’s role (“as sung by …”). His name ensured increased income for the publishers and royalties for the composer and lyricist. Goldie Ayzman, who played Reyzele, was not so known and had no such following.

The banality and weakness of this plot and its action seem to have exceeded the tolerance even of Second Avenue audiences, and not even Rumshinsky’s music—which was actually praised in the press for expressing the libretto’s action—could save it.

By: Neil W. Levin

 

Lyrics

Lyrics by Isidore Lillian

“Oh my dear Yosele,
you are fine and good.”
So Reyzele would sing
into my ears.
“When I feel you’re next to me,
my heart pounds.
You have given me heart.
Do not take it back.
I cannot live without you;
I want you to know.
Do you know what you mean to me?
Yosl, listen to this:

You are the light of my eyes.
Only you illuminate my world for me.
You have seduced me,
so that I cannot live without you.
You make my night shine so brightly.
You bring me the blue sky.
You are my bright morning star.
So shine for me, I beg of you.
When you are not near me,
everything feels so dark, so gloomy;
and then when I hear your voice,
it’s as if it were daylight everywhere.
You are the light of my eyes.
Only you illuminate my world for me.”

Lyrics by Isidore Lillian

oy, mayn tayer Yosele,
du bist gut un fayn.
azoy flegt zingen Reyzele,
mir in oyer arayn.
ven ikh fil dikh lebn mir,
git mayn harts a pik,
du host mayn harts gegebn mir,
nem es nit tsurik.
lebn ken ikh nit on dir,
zolstu visn zayn.
veystu vos du meynst tsu mir?
yosl, her zikh ayn:

du bist dos likht fun mayne oygn.
nor du bashaynst mayn velt far mir.
du host mikh tsu zikh tsugetsoygn,
az lebn ken ikh nit on dir.
du makhst mayn nakht zol likhtik vern.
dem bloyen himl brengstu mir.
du bist mayn heler morgnshtern.
nu shayn far mir, ikh bet bay dir.
bistu nit lebn mir,
iz mir khoyshekh-finster, tunkl,
un derher ikh dayn shtim,
vert tog in a yedn vinkl.
du bist dos likht fun mayne oygn.
nor du bashaynst mayn velt far mir.


 

Credits

Composer: Joseph Rumshinsky

Length: 04:20
Genre: Yiddish Theater

Performers: Elli Jaffe, Conductor;  Nell Snaidas, Soprano;  Vienna Chamber Orchestra

Date Recorded: 05/01/2001
Venue: Sofiensaele, Vienna, Austria
Engineer: Hughes, Campbell
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Schwendener, Paul

Additional Credits:

Publisher: Music Sales
Arranger/Orchestrator: Patrick Russ
Yiddish Translations/Transliterations: Eliyahu Mishulovin & Adam J. Levitin
Arrangement © Milken Family Foundation

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