Oy, iz dos a meydl 03:11

Liner Notes

Oy, iz dos a meydl, with lyrics by Molly Picon, was written for Rumshinsky’s 1927 two-act musical comedy Dzhenke—Oy, iz dos a meydl (Oh, Is This a Girl!), subtitled Some Girl!, to a book by Harry Kalmanovitch and a reworked libretto by its producer, Yankl Kalich. All the action takes place in America. Nathan Pomerantz has two daughters living at home. The elder is Beatrice, a recent college graduate—thus the favored one of both parents—whose signature is her pretentious display of pseudosophisticated English vocabulary. The younger daughter is eighteen-year-old streetwise Dzhenke [Jenke], played by Molly Picon, who has no interest in college and prefers a life of gaiety. She stays out night after night until two in the morning with Meni (Manny), a taxi driver who lives next door. It is no passionate love affair for her yet, although she confesses at one point (out of his hearing) that she does love him, for he is keyn ayne hore, a shtik man—“a bit of a man, ‘may no evil befall him!’ ” Nathan’s parental reactions to her late-night escapades (which he does not realize involve Manny) are ferocious and violent, and—primarily to free herself from her father—she marries Meni privately and capriciously. Yet so little does she know him that when she introduces him to her parents as her new husband, she does not know his full name. When Nathan discovers that Meni’s father is his old friend Simkhe Shrayer—a retired truck driver who was also unaware of the relationship between their two children until they announced their marriage while he was dining as a guest at the Pomerantz home—all the parents give their blessing.

Meanwhile, Beatrice and Meni develop a friendship, which Dzhenke naïvely encourages. Boosted by Beatrice’s envy of her sister’s happiness, the friendship becomes a secret love affair. By the time Dzhenke learns, through an overheard conversation, that Meni is about to disclose the truth and ask her to accept a divorce—on the pretense that “she doesn’t understand him”—she is already the mother of a three-month-old baby. She consults her old friend Nensl (Nancy, who happens, for the audience’s benefit, to live on the Lower East Side’s main artery, Delancey Street, so they can be treated to the song Nancy from East Delancey, or Ikh bin nensy fun dilensy). Nensl, who claims to know the secrets of how to handle and outwit men, advises Dzhenke to “play dumb” and launch a preemptive strike by approaching Meni first and asking him for a divorce, pretending that she has a secret lover without whom she cannot live. Nensl also urges Dzhenke to appear not to care too much for him, since that is what “today’s men want” in a woman. Men’s natural jealousy, combined with her feigned aloofness, will reverse Meni’s plans, Nensl assures Dzhenke. And of course, the scheme works. Not only does he renounce Beatrice, but he makes a concerted effort to win back Dzhenke’s love while she plays “hard to get” for just the right amount of time. He not only succeeds in mending the marriage, but he falls truly back in love with her, which leads to his song Oy, iz dos a meydl, sung in the production by Irving Grossman.

Abe Cahan, the editor of the Forverts, allowed that this was one of Molly Picon’s best performances and, as usual, that Rumshinsky carried the day, everything “galloping with the music.”

By: Neil W. Levin



Lyrics by Molly Picon

Every girl hopes that
there’s somewhere
in the world
a man just for her.
And she weaves her dream:
He is good and fine,
such a handsome man,
everyone will be jealous of her.
He will love her,
forever love her.
With a tender voice
he will sing only to her:

Oh, what a girl!
How lucky am I!
Oh, what a girl!
I am in love with you!
In your beautiful eyes
one glimpses rays
like a rainbow
when the sun sets.
Your heart is beautiful and gentle.
Therefore I say to you:
Oh, what a girl!
How lucky am I!

Lyrics by Molly Picon

yedes meydl hoft
az es iz faran
ergets af der velt
ongegreyt far ir a man.
un zi vebt ir troym:
er iz gut un fayn,
aza sheyner man,
mekane vet zi yeder zayn.
er vet libn zi,
liben on a shir.
mit a tsarter shtim
zingen vet er nor tsu ir:

oy iz dos a meydl!
aza yor af mir!
oy iz dos a meydl!
kh’bin farlibt in dir.
in dayne sheyne oygn
shtraln men derzet
vi a regn-boygn
ven di zun fargeyt.
dayn harts iz sheyn un eydl.
derfar zog ikh tsu dir:
oy iz dos a meydl!
aza yor af mir!



Composer: Joseph Rumshinsky

Length: 03:20
Genre: Yiddish Theater

Performers: 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:

Arranger/Orchestrator: Ira Hearshen
Yiddish Translations/Transliterations: Eliyahu Mishulovin & Adam J. Levitin
Arrangement © Milken Family Foundation


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