I’m 10 years old. It’s Sunday and I’m watching the film The Student Prince on television. I love it! Prince Karl Franz is the most handsome and dazzling man I’ve ever seen, with his black hair, golden voice and tailored trousers… (sigh). What fascinates me even more are the laced dresses the ladies and bar maids are wearing.
I notice how, when they stand at the top of the staircase, they pick up their dresses just a teeny-weeny bit and glide down the stairs. WOW.
After Prince Karl Franz marries Princess Margaret instead of Katy the bar maid (who by the way, was his real true love), I lie on the coach wondering: Will I ever be able to wear a dress like that.
It’s a new term, in a new school. I haven’t made any friends yet, but am perfectly happy playing on my own in a world of make-belief.
I know that if I want to look great in one of those big beautiful lace dresses one day, I will have to practice to walk in one… and for that I need a staircase.
We’re in class and the bell goes. I must switch classrooms and be on the top floor in my Geography lesson. I walk down the corridor and when I take the corner, I stand at the bottom of the staircase… This is my moment:
I take my grey school trousers, pretend that they’re my very own pretty frock, and I pull them up slightly. I run up the stairs. I’m beautiful!
When I reach the top of the stairs one of the older boys look at me and says: “What the fuck is wrong with you? Why are you walking like a little girl?”
I look at him and say: “What is wrong with YOU? Haven’t you seen The Student Prince?”
The original New York run of The Student Prince (608 performances) represented the longest of any Sigmund Romberg operetta. The operetta is now a classic of the American theatre, repeatedly revived. In 1954 CinemaScope turned the operetta in a color film musical featuring, as the credits read, “the singing voice of Mario Lanza“. Lanza had become embroiled in a bitter dispute with MGM during production and the studio dismissed him. Under the terms of the settlement with Lanza, MGM retained the film rights to the soundtrack that Lanza had already recorded. The songs from this film (including “Beloved” – written specially for the movie – and the well-remembered “Serenade”, from the original show) would become some of those most identified with Lanza, even though they were mouthed in the film by Edmund Purdom, who took over the role of Prince Karl.
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Text: FR Lubbe