In a kleyn shtibele 04:11

Liner Notes

Rumshinsky’s love duet In a kleyn shtibele (In a Small Cottage), with lyrics by Isidore Lillian, was featured in his extravagant three-act operetta Der rebe hot geheysn freylekh zayn (The Rebbe Has Bidden Us to Be Merry), produced at the Kessler Second Avenue Theater during the 1921–22 season. It was written to a book also by Lillian, whose libretto was reworked by Samuel Rosenstein, the production’s director, who also played and sang the role of Benish. The operetta was advertised in the Yiddish press as the “largest and richest operetta [yet],” with “large double chorus, joyous dances, and twenty musical numbers.”

As of this writing, the script has not been located. But the story draws on Hassidic lore and folkways and is set in a Hassidic environment in Europe that includes the rebbe’s court, which intersects with the Gypsy world. It is likely that the character Reb Elimelekh, head of that court, was based loosely on the historical Elimelekh of Lizhensk (1717–87), a popular tzaddik (righteous master) of the third generation of the Hassidic movement in Galicia, who on one plane was known for his asceticism. Unlike some other rabbinical personalities who advocated or were inclined toward asceticism, however, Reb Elimelekh also acknowledged that asceticism was not the exclusive path to the mystical Hassidic goal of tikkun olam—“restitution and repair of the world”—and he is quoted as having said that one tzaddik might reach tikkun through eating and drinking, while another might do so through an ascetic life.

In the operetta, Reb Elimelekh’s son Benish is in love with a young Gypsy woman, Diana, and the two sing of their commitment and future togetherness in In a kleyn shtibele. One needs neither the script nor even a synopsis to know that by the end of the story, Diana will turn out not to be a Gypsy, but—by whatever twist of fate or convoluted hidden or switched identities—a bona fide Jewess.

The cast for Der rebe hot geheysn freylekh zayn was unusually large, filled with many of the greatest Second Avenue celebrities of the day and including Kalman Juvelier, Annie Thomashefsky, Regina Prager, Lazar Fried, Sam Kasten, Muni Weisenfreund (who went on to become the famous actor Paul Muni), and Mathilda St. Claire—in her American debut following her arrival in New York at Rumshinsky’s invitation.

By: Neil W. Levin



Lyrics by Isidore Lillian

Day and night I think of you;
you have brought me sunshine, Diana.
I can no longer concentrate on my studies
ever since I noticed you, Diana.

Tell me, beloved, did you miss me?
Oh, have I thought of you a great deal, Diana.
I cannot be without you even for a minute.
With you everything is so good, Diana.

We will live in a little cottage,
just you and me together in love.
Our love is heavenly; you delight me.
God sent you down from heaven.
We will live in a little cottage,
just you and me together in love.
When I become old and gray
and my final hour comes,
my last words will be, “I love you.”

You are the balm of my heart,
You can heal the greatest pain, my Benish.
In sorrows and in joy,
only death can separate us, 
You, my Benish.

I love you with all the fire in me.
You, only you, are so dear to me, Benish.
You are my life.
I will be devoted completely to you, Benish.

We’ll live in a little cottage.…

Lyrics by Isidore Lillian

ikh denk fun dir tog un nakht;
du host mir zunenshayn gebrakht, diana.
lernen ken ikh mer nit, neyn, 
zayt dan ven ikh hob dikh derzen, diana.

zog, gelibte, hostu gebenkt.
oy, ikh hob fun dir fil gedenkt, diana.
on dir zayn ken ikh keyn minut, 
mit dir, mit dir, iz zeyer gut, diana.

mir veln voynen in a kleyn shtibele,
nor ikh un du mit undzer libele.
himlish iz di libe; du host mir derkvikt.
got hot dir fun himl mir arop geshikt.
mir veln voynen in a kleyn shtibele,
nor ikh un du mit undzer libele.  
ven ikh vel vern alt un gro, 
un kumen vet mayn letste sho,
vet mayn letste vort zayn, ikh hob dikh lib.

du bist der balzam fun mayn harts,
du farheylst dem grestn shmerts, mayn beynish.
in laydn un in freydn,
nor der toyt ken undz tsusheydn,
du, mayn beynish.

ikh lib dikh mit mayn gantsn fayer.
du, nor du, bist bay mir tayer,  benish.
du bist, du bist, mayn gants lebn,
nor far dir vel ikh shtrebn, benish.

mir veln voynen in a kleyn shtibele.…



Composer: Joseph Rumshinsky

Length: 05:00
Genre: Yiddish Theater

Performers: 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

Additional Credits:

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


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