|Ikh bin farlibt
Olshanetsky’s Ikh bin farlibt (I’m in Love), with lyrics by Jacob Jacobs, is a love duet from his operetta A ganeydn far tzvey (A Paradise for Two), with a book by Joseph Lateiner and William Siegel—first produced in 1928 at the National Theater in New York. All the action takes place in New York, and the time is given as “now and always.” Leybke and Fanitshke are young lovers, both of whom are poor, and they live—one presumes in tiny tenement apartments—on New York’s Lower East Side, home to the largest concentration of Eastern European immigrants. They also knew each other in Europe, where he once saved her life and where the two first became infatuated with each other. Khane Tsipe, her conniving aunt, is portrayed as the quintessential yente—the stereotyped combination shrew, henpecker, and meddler made famous by Bette Jacobs (who played the role of Khana Tsipe in this production) through her hilarious radio and vaudeville character Yente Telebende. Khana Tsipe’s second husband was played by her real-life husband, Jacob Jacobs, who also regularly played her scolded husband, Mendel Telebende, in those sparring skits.
Khane Tsipe schemes to accomplish a match for her niece with David—ostensibly because he would be able to provide expensive medical treatment for Fanitshke’s older sister, a pressure to which she yields almost sacrificially. But in fact, such a wealthy and socially prominent “nephew-in-law” would give Khana Tsipe the status she craves as a grande dame of the fashionable Upper West Side. At some unidentified point in that first act, Leybke and Fanitshke sing their love duet, Ikh bin farlibt, in which they recall nostalgically their initial love in Europe.
The show contains exaggerated and coarse but sidesplitting comic routines between Khana Tsipe and her husband (probably written with the Jacobs duo in mind), including one in which he knocks her out with boxing gloves. Meanwhile, when David inadvertently overhears Leybke and Fanitshke’s farewell to each other, he realizes that his marriage to her is ill-advised, and he relinquishes her to Leybke.
By: Neil W. Levin
Lyrics by Jacob Jacobs
You evoke for me an idyllic scene,
I now have in my heart such a longing for home.
I long for those meadows there, with their green grass.
Oh, what I would give to gaze at them again.
How the ducks on their bellies would swim in the streams,
catch crumbs and not tire.
We both used to sit in the summer heat,
cuddled together, singing this song:
“I’m in love with a pretty, lovely, sweet little girl.
I’m in love, for you are really so refined.
Every smile and every glance of yours
bring my heart much happiness and joy.
I’m in love, I’m in love
with such a pretty girl.”
Just tell me, my Fanitshke,
do you still remember how beautifully
the sun would reflect on the river when it set?
How a beautiful, sweet sound used to emanate from the woods?
That was a divine song from the birds.
The nightingale used to trill and delight in us,
and he used to sing his sweet tones without end.
He would listen to the two of us with much joy
and then sing, perfectly mimicking us.
Lyrics by Jacob Jacobs
dos, vos du dermonst mikh itst, iz a getlekh bild.
az ikh hob do in hartsn aza benkenish derfilt.
es benkt zikh nokh di lonkes dort mit dem grinem groz,
oy, vi volt ikh nokh a mol gevolt onkukn dos.
vi katshkes af di baykhlekh shvimen in di taykhlekh,
khapn brekelekh un vern gor nit mid.
mir flegn beyde zitsn zumer in di hitzn,
tsugetuliyet zingendik dos lid:
“ikh bin farlibt, in a kleyn sheyn, zis, lib, meydle,
ikh bin farlibt, vayl du bist dokh aza eydele.
dayn yeder shmeykhl un dayn yeder blik,
brengt mir in hartsn arayn fil freyd un glik.
ikh bin farlibt, ikh bin farlibt,
in aza sheyn meydle vi du.”
zog mir nor, mayn fanitshke,
gedenkstu nokh vi sheyn,
vi di zun flegt zikh opshpigln afn taykh baym untergeyn?
fun velder flegt zikh hern nokh a sheyne ziser klang?
dos iz geven fun feygelkh a getlikher gezang.
di nakhtigal flegt treln un fun undz onkveln,
zingen tener zis gor on shier.
er flegt ful mit freydn, undz oyshern beydn,
un dan zingen punkt azoy vi mir.
Composer: Alexander Olshanetsky
Genre: Yiddish Theater
Amy Goldstein, Soprano;
Elli Jaffe, Conductor;
Simon Spiro, Tenor;
Vienna Chamber Orchestra
Date Recorded: 10/01/2001
Venue: Baumgartner Casino (A), Vienna, Austria
Engineer: Hughes, Campbell
Assistant Engineer: Hamza, Andreas
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Schwendener, Paul
Publisher: Anita Olshanetsky Willens
Arranger/Orchestrator: Patrick Russ
Yiddish Translations/Transliterations: Eliyahu Mishulovin & Adam J. Levitin
Arrangement © Milken Family Foundation