Canciones West Side Story

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West junto a Story Guide y Commentary by jack Gottlieb

Story Sources

it is widely recognized that West página Story (WSS) is based directly on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (R&J). Much less famous is the fact that Shakespeare based his juego (1594) on other material, particularly uno narrative poem by Arthur Brooke entitled The Tragicall Historye that Romeus y Juliet (1562). Los theme of two lovers thwarted by circumstances beyond their control, however, had long before been developed in western legend: Troilus and Cressida, Tristan y Isolde, to name only dos such pairs. In more recent times, americano folklore had assimilated ns myth into ns feud between los Hatfields y McCoys. Brooke’s description of R&J together an "vnfortunate coople" displays un puritanical streak:

" . . . Louers, thrilling us to vnhonest desire, neglecting ns authoritie y aduise of parents and frendes."

Shakespeare transcended the question the morality, despite he borrowed freely desde the previously poem, and in fact, he replicated Brooke’s en la actualidad words in at least three instances. Yet Brooke pales by comparison. Shakespeare rapturously expanded los soliloquies, and fashioned new personages endowing them with nobility.

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Although there are numerous borrowings of plot y content from R&J to WSS, Arthur Laurents, writer of ns book for los musical, did not verbally borrow from Shakespeare. Yet just together Shakespeare transformed Brook’s "Drunken gossypes, superstitious friers, vnchastitie, ns shame the stolne contractes hastyng to an ext vnhappye deathe," so Laurents replaces los second half of Shakespeare’s play, i m sorry he tells us, "rests on Juliet’s swallowing a magic potion, a device that would not it is in swallowed in un modern play." he continues:

"In los book (why are the spoken native for un musical donar called this?) . . . Ns dialogue is my translation that adolescent calle talk into theater: it may sound real, but it isn’t."

that he succeeded, y did so brilliantly, is attested come by his companion-in-arms alan Jay Lerner:

"Arthur Laurent’s book, con its relocating re-telling of los Romeo and Juliet tale. . . Is un triumph of style and model of its genre. As un fellow tradesman, me gustaría was filled with the deepest admiration."

Jerome Robbins had at an initial envisioned Juliet as a Jewish girl y Romeo as an italian Catholic. The action, set during los Easter-Passover season, was to have occurred on ns Lower East side of new York City. Hence the title can have been EAST lado Story. (Another working title to be Gangway!) That was in 1949. Six año later, Laurents and Leonard Bernstein were working (independently) in Hollywood, where they conferred on the aborted project. The newspapers were filled con reports of street riots by Chicano american in ese Angeles.

Those headlines turned the trick, triggering the imaginations of ns collaborators. The locale swiftly shifted to new York’s West Side, and in mil novecientos cincuenta y siete WSS exploded onto the american State. In los decades that have actually passed, WSS has become ns contemporary classic.

The Operatic Trap

Soon delaware its premiere, Bernstein wrote about ns lengthy gestation between los show’s conception and birth: "All los peering y agony y postponement and re-re-rewriting turn out to have been worth it." part of the agony was los decision "not to cast ‘singers’: anything the sounded more jugadores would inevitably sound much more experienced, and then los ‘kid’ quality would it is in gone."

Still, in 1949, Bernstein voiced apprehension that "making a musical that tells uno tragic story in musical comedy terms . . . Never ever falling into ns ‘operatic’ trap" the trap must be los vise (as fine as ns vice) that vocal pyrotechnics because that its very own sake, without moving the historia forward.

Bernstein does prevent that trap in WSS. For example, one of ns most operatic moments is los duet between Anita and Maria: ns Boy like That/I Have ns Love. This denouement is, in the words that Stearns: "Anita’s fateful readjust of loyalties representar which los rest of the drama unfolds. " Bernstein evolves one song out of ns other through uno kind of musical legerdemain. For this reason when Anita fulminates against the killings, us hear what will turn into Maria’s eloquence, making use of precisely the same pitches and almost los same rhythm. Ns seed has actually grown come tower over the ground in i beg your pardon it to be planted.

While there is expect in WSS, there likewise is despair, and this as well is reflected, in musical terms. Throughout ns entire score the interval of los tritone is prominently displayed. (Theorists representar the past have actually nicknamed los tritone Diabolus in musica (Devil in music"). It was considered los most "dangerous" interval. That is unstable, rootless quality (C, because that example, to F# is composed of numero 3 whole-steps, hence: tritone) was los perfect música distillation of los unstable relationship in between Tony and Maria, and for ns rootlessness, and the result ruthlessness, of ns Jet and Shark gangs.

Careers

Bernstein once said the show could no "depend top top stars, being around kids." Hundreds of joven hopefuls auditioned for los original production. Of los forty ‘kids’ that landed the jobs —apoyándose - for most, their Broadway debut —apoyándose - countless went ~ above to ns wide selection of admitir business (or related) activities. Perhaps not all your pathways were to better glory, however without WSS their careers would probably have taken substantially longer to blossom. Furthermore, some of them continued to keep relationships con their WSS partner on a emplea and/or experto basis.

ns most astonishing job to it is in launched desde the WSS pad was that of its lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, considered by many to be los most far-reaching composer-lyricist of ours time. If there is one indigenous american operatic format of today, sondheim must be regarded as that is standard-bearer. Ns operatic innovations introduced by los WSS an innovative quartet: broader song dimensions, simultaneities in complex counterpoint, etc. Came to be grist come the sondheim mill.

Symphonic Dances type West side Story to be premiered by the new York Philharmonic ~ above February 13, 1961, but the operador was Lukas Foss. Bernstein was named Music director of the Philharmonic one year delaware the opened of WSS, y although he later on performed and recorded the Dances with los orchestra, the never, prior to the mil novecientos ochenta y cinco recording, conducted ns performance of los show. (He was in the pit to conduct ns so-called Overture -papposo - uno compilation that tunes not made by him -papposo -for one of los early Broadway revivals). But why must someone whose career has actually been so diversified concentrate on one all-consuming project, a Broadway run? Bernstein never conducted ns live theatre performance the his Candide, exorbitant Town, or MASS, either.

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His record of On the Town, do long delaware its premiere with, amongst others, tres of the original actors members, is los first dando album ever to be put onto disc by its composer. But one historical very first has however to take place in ns annals of recorded Broadway musicals: a completamente original actors album performed by its composer.

The Film

ns Academy Award because that Best snapshot of mil novecientos sesenta y uno went to ns movie version of West junto a Story, earning a totalmente of ten Oscars.

although Bernstein did not suffer ns indignity of los mayhem perpetrated top top his score in ns movie the On ns Town, ns movie that West side Story did make part minor alterations. "I feeling Pretty" was moved to an earlier scene, los bridal shop. The location that "Gee, Officer Krupke" to be interchanged with "Cool". Casa especial also wrote new lyrics because that "America", carry out by all the Sharks y their girl (in ns stage variation it is gift by 4 girls only).

These changes were judged come be necessary to sustain an on-rushing sense of doom. After all, ns movie was no interrupted by an intermission during which one audience might recover form the devastation wrought by ns danced Rumble. Top top stage, the bubbly "I feel Pretty", at los beginning of act II, was un kind of expansion of intermission babble.

The Dubbers

the singing voz of ricardo Beymer (Tony, in los movie) was the of jim Bryant, un Hollywood jazz and commercial arranger y bass fiddler, chosen because his to sing timbre matched Beymer’s talked sound. Similarly, Betty Wand, a mezzo-soprano, to be hired to carry out some, however not all, the Rita (Anita) Moreno’s singing. Wand later sued come get a percentage of ns movie-album sales, a dispute cleared up out-of-court. But los most convoluted dubbing troubles were those for los voice of Natalie timber (Maria).

Marni Nixon was employed on ns day-to-day basis (no contract was signed) to execute only los high or sustained notes that Wood’s less disciplined voice might not manage. And, indeed, ns songs were videotaped in that manner, with Wood being continually told exactly how "wonderful" she was. While this was going on, Nixon to be being told the she would execute the lleno soundtrack, which was difficult to believe under the circumstances. But this delicate and deliberate game of musical pawns was played come ensure there would be no clash in between star and studio until Wood’s visuals had been totally filmed. Once she was lastly "in ns can," hardwood was educated that Nixon had been elected. Wood’s reaction to be understandable anger, y later on when she filmed her function in Gypsy, cuales substitutions were created her to sing voice.

Nixon’s project then became much more complex than she dubbing that Deborah Kerr in the filming of ns King y I. There, every little thing had been closely worked fuera de in rehearsal, with Nixon physically siguiente to Kerr in ~ all musical rehearsals. But since Wood had currently been to fill with música inaccuracies, Nixon had to compensate for them. On largo shots there was cuales problem, yet on close-ups she had to hedge it one way or another. In fact, Nixon even called Wood’s speak voice at the very end: "Don’t you touch him!" té adoro, Anton."

early to the web of deception, Nixon felt she deserved un cut of los movie-album royalties. Neither the movie or ns record producers would bow to her demands. Bernstein broke the stalemate by volunteering ns percentage the his income, a gesture the loyalty-royalty since Nixon had actually been a performer-colleague the his at new York Philharmonic concerts.

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Throughout ns Leonard Bernstein Centennial, West junto a Story continued that longtime success and popularity, con both theatre and opera companies an international giving over mil trescientos performances in veinticuatro countries and veinticinco US States. Los Centennial’s performances included exciting nuevo productions desde Opera Australia"s Handa opera on Sydney Harbour; Takarazuka Revue"s all-female manufacturing in Japan; the Fugard Theater"s in south Africa, the Guthrie Theatre"s manufacturing in Minneapolis, los Komische ópera in Berlin y SOM Productions in Spain, to surname only uno few. In addition, ns GRAMMY Awards payment homage to the composer at ns 60th yearly GRAMMY Awards awareness with un performance the “Somewhere” from West junto a Story by TONY y GRAMMY award-winning artist Ben Platt. The Centennial likewise brought with it los rare possibility to introduce Leonard Bernstein come a nuevo generation of young audiences y performers. The el Sistema-inspired música programs around the country shared in uno special plan of the song “Somewhere” representar West junto a Story. Google paid tribute on ns birthday with ns delightful Doodle special an animated cartoon of lb set to ns Prologue desde West side Story.

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