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Mayn goldele 03:37
 

Liner Notes

Rumshinsky’s love duet Mayn Goldele, with lyrics by Louis Gilrod, was one of his twenty songs and other musical numbers from his three-act operetta Di goldene kale (The Golden Bride), to a book and libretto by Louis Freiman [Leyzer Genoyk]. First produced in 1923 at the Kessler Second Avenue Theater—staged by Michal Michalesco (who also acted and sang the lead male role), with a cast that included Annie Thomashefsky (sister of Boris), and choreographed by Hyman (“Hymie”) Jacobson, who appeared onstage as Jerome—it was the first of Rumshinsky’s many fruitful collaborations with Freiman.

The story of Di goldene kale revolves around Goldele, whose mother abandoned her as a child of four at an inn in an unnamed town in the Czarist Pale (her father having left her mother and gone off to America). The child was taken in by the innkeeper and his wife and reared together with their own children, Misha and Khanele. Goldele is a young lady when the Act I curtain rises. Her uncle Benjamin has just made a surprise visit from America with his son Jerome to inform Goldele that she has inherited her father’s American fortune. The town is immediately abuzz, and she is suddenly besieged with suitors. Not to miss a chance to earn what he knows would be a handsome commission, Kalman Kliamke, the shames (beadle) of the town synagogue, quickly gets into the act as a shadkhn (matchmaker) and sets about frantically trying to organize potential shidukhim (matches) for Goldele. One can only imagine the comic opportunity this situation provided for the composer, librettist, and director as Goldele is approached by such shtetl stereotypes as Yankl the shoemaker, Berel the tailor, and Motl the cantor’s choir singer, each of whom swears on the spot his undying love.

Uncle Benjamin, however, harbors the hope that Goldele will marry Jerome. As it happens, Goldele has long been in love with Misha, who has been away studying medicine—although the sudden parade of suitors does confuse her temporarily. When Misha returns home for a visit during a school intersession, her confusion evaporates, and she tells him—after he dispels her concerns about a transatlantic separation by offering to come with her—that he is indeed hers (“my Misha”), which leads into the duet Mayn goldele. In the duet he refers to her as his kale (bride), in the sense of a potential bride.

Meanwhile, Goldele tells Misha that she can marry no one until her mother is found, since she is convinced that she is alive somewhere. Mildly suggestive of mythical or fairy-tale prenuptial contests devised by sought-after women, Goldele announces her own variant of those competitions. Rather than any test of physical strength or even mental prowess, as in the non-Jewish versions of this motif, Goldele long ago made a vow that she will marry the one man who can find and bring her mother to her. And now that she is a woman of means, she will spare no expense. The finale of the first act begins with the traditional Sabbath eve meal, at which Misha chants the kiddush (sanctification) over wine, followed by everyone wishing Goldele well in her new life in America.

Acts II and III are set in New York a year later in Goldele’s lavish home. She has brought with her some of her adopted family as well as many of her former townspeople. When she receives a letter from Misha telling her that he is about to board ship for America but has been unsuccessful in finding her mother—and therefore knows that he has lost Goldele forever—she weeps and reiterates her love for him, but adheres to her vow.

In a scene worthy of Italian opera at its grandest, Goldele organizes a masked ball, and each eligible male guest is challenged to bring her mother, if she can be found. In a farcical parade, each of her many suitors (including the various characters from her European shtetl) brings a woman either claiming to be Goldele’s mother—assuming that the passage of years would cloud physical recognition—or truly hoping to find a long-lost daughter.

Disguised in a mask, Misha arrives to bring “regards from Misha,” and he sings a song of hope couched in a Zionist reference: “Palestine, our land . . . may the sh’khina (God’s feminine manifestation, or presence) rest on her; Land of Israel, one day I will see it again.” He and Goldele chat, and she asks if he can tell her anything that might relieve her pain. Telling her that Misha has sent along a song, he begins echoing Mayn goldele, and she soon joins him as in the original duet. In a climactic moment worthy of Verdi, Goldele’s mother appears, heavily disguised and masked as an elegant grande dame. She reveals her identity and—you guessed it!—she points at the disguised Misha, acknowledging that it is he who has found and brought her. Before the curtain falls, Misha triumphantly unmasks himself.

In the brief final act, Goldele, in her wedding dress, listens as her mother, Sheyndele, explains her abandonment and disappearance. It turns out that, with no one else to look after her child, she had left her at the inn for a short while so that she could visit her childhood love and first khosn (intended husband) in a sanitarium, where he had been confined with tuberculosis “and a broken heart.” Sheyndele had been pressured and all but forced by her parents into a marriage with a man she did not love (who abandoned her for America). But her beloved, taken ill just when she got married, died in that sanitarium; and she fell ill for two years. When she returned to the inn, she found that the innkeepers—with their children and Goldele—had relocated to another town, and as much as she tried, she was never able to find them. Naturally, Goldele forgives her mother, overjoyed at being reunited, and she proceeds to the wedding canopy.

From a musical perspective, Mayn goldele typifies the adoption of Jewish persona and musical identity for a song that is more Viennese than anything else in character, style, and melodic contour. It draws neither on any traditional Jewish material nor on any continuum of melody type associated historically with Jewish experience, sacred or secular. Mayn goldele is indeed a demonstration of the power of language, in terms of its purely aural parameters, and of context to create the perception of a truly—and subsequently nostalgia-laden—“Jewish” song, regardless of actual musical content.

By: Neil W. Levin

 

Lyrics

Lyrics by Louis Gilrod

GOLDELE:
When you were away, 
I suffered terribly.

MISHA:
Me too, me too.

GOLDELE
I was suffering terribly, 
always longing for you.

MISHA:
Me too, me too,
Always thinking only of you,
both day and night.  

GOLDELE:
Me too, me too.

BOTH:
Many times my heart was longing for you,
for just one glimpse of your sweet eyes.

MISHA:
My heart, my soul.

GOLDELE:
I love, I love only you.

MISHA:
My Goldele, my dear bride, 
my beautiful, sweet little angel, 
my only desire is to be with you,
with you forever and ever, I swear.

GOLDELE:
Oh, at this instant I feel 
that my happiness has returned to me.

MISHA:
Me too, me too.

GOLDELE:
Oh my, I feel it burning!  
Oh my, I’m so drawn to you!

MISHA:
Me too, me too.
I feel in this moment 
that am burning to ashes from love.

GOLDELE:
Me too, me too.

BOTH:
Oh, you have captured my heart 
with those beautiful songs that ring so sweetly.  

MISHA:
My heart, my soul.

GOLDELE:
I love, I love only you.

Lyrics by Louis Gilrod

GOLDELE:
ven du bist geven avek 
hob ikh gelitn gor a shrek …

MISHA:
ikh oykh, ikh oykh!

GOLDELE:
kh’bin gevezn shtark gekrenkt.
imer tsu nokh dir gebenkt.

MISHA:
ikh oykh, ikh oykh!
imer nor fun dir getrakht,
say bay tog un say bay nakht.

GOLDELE:
ikh oykh, ikh oykh!

BEYDE:
fil mol hot mayn harts mikh tsu dir getsoygn
nor eyn blik in dayne zise oygn.

MISHA:
harts mayn, neshome mayn,

GOLDELE:
ikh lib, ikh lib nor dikh aleyn.

MISHA:
mayn goldele, mayn kalekhl, 
mayn sheyner, ziser malekhl,
mit dir zayn, dos iz mayn bager,
mit dir af imer, af imer, ikh shver.

GOLDELE:
akh in dizen oygnblik fil ikh, 
az ikh hob mayn glik tsurik.

MISHA:
ikh oykh, ikh oykh! 

GOLDELE:
oy gvald! ikh fil es brit!
oy gvald! tsu dir mikh tsit!

MISHA:
ikh oykh, ikh oykh!
oy ikh fil in dem moment 
fun libe ver ikh ash farbrent.

GOLDELE:
ikh oykh, ikh oykh!

BEYDE:
akh, mayn harts hostu, oy, du host gefangen
mit di sheyne lider fun zise klangen.  

MISHA:
harts mayn, neshome mayn,

GOLDELE:
ikh lib, ikh lib nor dikh aleyn.


 

Credits

Composer: Joseph Rumshinsky

Length: 03:37
Genre: Yiddish Theater

Performers: Robert Bloch, Tenor;  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 (Metro Music)
Arranger/Orchestrator: Paul Henning
Yiddish Translations/Transliterations: Eliyahu Mishulovin & Adam J. Levitin
Arrangement © Milken Family Foundation

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