Madame Pompadour  (Leo Fall)   (Laye, Oldham)   (Palaeophonics 109)
Item# PE0214
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Madame Pompadour  (Leo Fall)   (Laye, Oldham)   (Palaeophonics 109)
PE0214. MADAME POMPADOUR (Leo Fall-Rudolf Schanzer & Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm Welisch; English adaptation by Frederick Lonsdale & Harry Graham), w.Arthur Wood Cond.Daly’s Theatre Ensemble; Evelyn Laye, Derek Oldham, Huntley Wright & Elsie Randolph. (England) Palaeophonics 109, recorded 1924, Complete, as Recorded, w.Elaborate ‘The Play’ 20pp. Brochure replete from the London production & facsimile of original brochure. MADAME POMPADOUR was produced at Daly’s Theatre, London, on 20 Dec., 1923, and closed after a run of 469 performances.


“MADAME POMPADOUR is an operetta in three acts, composed by Leo Fall with a libretto by Rudolf Schanzer and Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm Welisch. Conducted by the composer, it opened at the Berliner Theater in Berlin on 9 September, 1922 and then at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 2 March, 1923. Translated into English, MADAME POMPADOUR premiered at Daly's Theatre, London on 20 December, 1923. The first English adaptation, by Frederick Lonsdale and Harry Graham (lyrics) ran for a very successful 469 performances. It starred Bertram Wallis as Louis XV, Derek Oldham as René, Huntley Wright as Joseph Calicott and Evelyn Laye in the title role. With the extraordinary success of the operetta in Berlin, Vienna, London and elsewhere, Fall regained the international fame that he had enjoyed prior to World War I. However, the composer died of cancer, two years later, at the age of only 52.

Evelyn Laye was an English theatre and musical film actress, who was active on the London light opera stage. Born as Elsie Evelyn Lay in Bloomsbury, London, and known professionally as Evelyn Laye, and informally as Bo . Her parents were both actors and her father a theatre manager. She made her first stage appearance in 1915 at the Theatre Royal, Brighton as Nang-Ping in MR. WU, and her first London appearance at the East Ham Palace on 24 April 1916, aged 14, in the revue HONI SOIT, in which she subsequently toured.

For the first few years of her career she mainly played in musical comedy and operetta, including GOING UP in 1918. Among her successes during the 1920s were PHI-PHI (1922), MADAME POMPADOUR (1923), THE DOLLAR PRINCESS, BLUE EYES (1928) and LILAC TIME. She made her Broadway début in 1929 in the American première of Noël Coward's BITTER SWEET and appeared in several early Hollywood film musicals. She continued acting in pantomimes such as THE SLEEPING BEAUTY and CINDERELLA. After the Second World War, she had less success, but she returned to the West End in 1954, in the musical WEDDING IN PARIS. She also acted several times opposite her second husband, actor Frank Lawton, including in the 1956 sitcom MY HUSBAND AND I. Other stage successes included SILVER WEDDING (1957; with Lawton), THE AMOROUS PRAWN (1959) and PHIL THE FLUTER (1969).”

- Ned Ludd

“Derek Oldham was an English singer and actor, best known for his performances in the tenor roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. It is difficult to imagine that Derek Oldham, so strongly associated with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and the tenor roles in Gilbert & Sullivan, served less than six seasons with the D'Oyly Carte. He was certainly a popular favorite on both sides of the Atlantic and in the recording studio, where he sang tenor leads in no less than nineteen full and abridged HMV recordings of the operasWith the outbreak of World War I, he joined the Scots Guards, serving with valour. He then starred in musicals and operettas in the West End in the 1920s, including MADAME POMPADOUR, THE MERRY WIDOW, ROSE-MARIE and THE VAGABOND KING. He returned to the D'Oyly Carte for brief periods from 1929 to 1937.

Oldham continued singing, recording and acting through the 1940s, also appearing in several films. He concentrated on legitimate theatre in the 1950s, acting until the age of 70. He maintained a lifelong interest in Gilbert and Sullivan, serving as an officer of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

As a child, Oldham was a boy soprano in demand for over five years in oratorios (including Sullivan's THE GOLDEN LEGEND and THE PRODIGAL SON). He débuted on the professional adult stage in 1914, as Julien in THE DARING OF DIANE, an operetta by Alfred Anderson and Heinrich Reinhardt, presented at the London Pavilion.

In the summer of 1922, Oldham left the D'Oyly Carte to go into musical comedy. He would become a leading singing-actor at Drury Lane and other West End theatres throughout the 1920s. It was there that he met his wife, Winnie Melville, who would herself have a brief engagement with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company as principal soprano. His first musical was WHIRLED INTO HAPPINESS at the Lyric Theatre, as Horace Wiggs, where his leading lady was his future wife, Winnie Melville. Other musicals in which Oldham starred included MADAME POMPADOUR (1923, as Rene), THE MERRY WIDOW (1923, as Camille), and ROSE-MARIE (1925, as Jim). In 1927, Oldham and Melville starred together in the European première of THE VAGABOND KING, he as François Villon, and she as Katherine de Vaucelles.

Oldham later played in many musicals and plays, including THE SONG OF THE DRUM at Drury Lane, as Captain Anthony Darrell (1931). He appeared at the Royal Albert Hall as Chibiabos in HIAWATHA in 1938, conducted by Malcolm Sargent. After 1948 he developed a career as a Lieder singer and lecture-recitalist and later as a character actor in non-musical plays. In his later years Oldham played in many revivals of musicals and on the legitimate stage as well. His last appearance on the London Stage was as Dr. Stoner in VERDICT (Strand, 1958). He also appeared in several films between 1934 and 1957.


“If you are interested in what original audiences of early 20th century English operetta and musical comedy heard, there is a great source for such recordings – the record label Paleophonics. Dominic Combe prepares CDs for them from his huge collection of shellacs and a few cylinders.

I came across these somewhat hard-to-find CDs on the website of the mail-order company NORBECK, PETERS AND FORD, ( which is specialized in historical performances from the beginning of recorded sound all the way through to the 1960s.

There are now over fifty Paleophonics CDs, and more are being prepared or scheduled for future release. Each CD comes with a lavishly illustrated program booklet with reviews, information about the shows and fantastic publicity photographs, and artwork from the original London productions, in the form of reproductions of the magazine PLAY PICTORIAL.”