->''Blue heaven and you and I,\\
And sand kissing a moonlit sky,\\
A desert breeze whispering a lullaby,\\
Only stars above you\\
To see I love you''
-->The title song's chorus
''The Desert Song'' is an operetta with music by SigmundRomberg and libretto by OscarHammersteinII, Otto Harbach, and Frank Mandel. It premiered in 1926 in Wilmington, Delaware, under the title ''Lady Fair''. Its first performance under the title ''The Desert Song" was at the Casino Theatre on Broadway, starring Vivienne Segal and Robert Halliday. It was adapted into a 1929 movie starring John Boles and Carlotta King. It was also made into a movie in 1943, modernised and starring Dennis Morgan and Irene Manning, which has remained unreleased on DVD or video, and in 1953 with Gordon [=MacRae=] and Kathryn [=Grayson=].
The plot can be described as ''Literature/TheSheik'', with elements of ''Literature/TheScarletPimpernel''. It was very topical in 1926 as it was inspired by the Rif Rebellion in Morocco, which had ended the year before, as well as by Rudolph Valentino's sudden death. (Hammerstein and Romberg actually witnessed Valentino's funeral procession outside movie theatres.)
Margot Bonvalet, the female lead, is a beautiful, spirited French girl who has come to a French Foreign Legion outpost to marry Captain Paul Fontaine, the second-in-command of General Birabeau, who she doesn't love. Pierre, the General's DoggedNiceGuy son, is in love with her, but Margot's type is, in her own words, "an outlaw and a ruffian".
The Legion is pursuing The Red Shadow, a mysterious, Zorro-like figure who wears a red cloak and mask, and leads a band of local desert tribesmen,the Riffs, against French rule. He's actually [[spoiler: Pierre,]] who's been using ObfuscatingStupidity to hide what he's really doing. Margot and Paul's wedding date is moved earlier, due to the Riff revolt. Paul's spurned lover, a local girl named Azuri, schemes to ruin the marriage by revealing the Red Shadow's true identity. BetaCouple Benny and Susan are the subject of a subplot.
In the climax, Margot is kidnapped by the Shadow and taken to the house of ArabOilSheikh Ali Ben Ali, where Azuri leads the General, setting him up to kill his own son or for the Red Shadow to lose the respect of his men by refusing to fight the General.
!! The stage version contains examples of the following tropes:
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: ''The whole point.''
* AltarTheSpeed: What happens with Margot and Paul's wedding.
* AMatchMadeInStockholm: Margot falls in love with the Red Shadow after he kidnaps her.
* ArabOilSheikh: Ali Ben Ali is a stereotypical one with a harem, fitting the older portrayal. The Red Shadow is supposedly a bandit version of this.
* BadassNative: The Red Shadow [[spoiler:But not really.]]
* BawdySong: "Let Love Go" and "One Flower Goes Alone In Your Garden" sung by Ali Ben Ali and Sid El Kar (Red Shadow's lieutenant) respectively, in support of polygamy. Also, "It", sung by Benny and Susan.
* BellyDancer: Azuri.
* BetaCouple: Comic relief pair Benny and Susan.
* CampFollower: How [[HighClassCallGirl Clementina]] and her friends ended up at Ali Ben Ali's. "The soldiers of Spain must have diversion. Every military post in Morocco has its share of rubbish from the streets of Madrid."
* CutSong: A few from ''Lady Fair''
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Margot during the "Sabre Song" sequence. "All my secret longing/Wishes that are thronging/Feelings that I vainly try to hide" indeed.
* DoggedNiceGuy: Pierre's disguise.
* [[EveryoneLooksSexierIfFrench Everyone Looks Sexier If Moroccan]]: This is part of why Margot is attracted to the Red Shadow and why Azuri's role exists.
* FauxInterracialRelationship: The mysterious rebel leader, supposedly an Arab turns out to be the son of the new governor.
* FinalLoveDuet: The reprise of "One Alone" sung by both Pierre and Margot as she realises his true identity.
* GoingNative: Partial aversion -- Pierre/the Red Shadow spends his nights among his own ethnic group (the French) and sneaks out when he can.
* HighClassCallGirl: Clementina, a Spanish courtesan in Ali Ben Ali's house.
* HonorRelatedAbuse: A variant -- the Red Shadow is left to die in the desert for refusing to fight an opponent. [[spoiler:His own father, who's on the opposite side.]]
* IAmSong: Clementina's "Song of The Brass Key", describing what she does for a living. Also, ''The Riff Song" and "French Military Marching Song." And arguably, "Azuri's Dance", which is actually a description of the character by another character. Since Azuri is a dancer, that's the closest thing the show has.
* IWantSong: "Romance" for Margot and "One Alone" for the Red Shadow.
* LegionOfLostSouls: As a backdrop
* LovesMyAlterEgo: An early example.
* MeaningfulName: "Azuri" supposedly means "Tiger Claws". Azuri is very vicious and compared to a tiger several times, especially in her VillainSucksSong.
* MightyWhitey: Pierre/The Red Shadow.
* MsFanservice: Azuri
* MixedAncestry: Azuri. "My mother -- she is mostly white."
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Pierre is the brave and daring Red Shadow.
* OpeningChorus: "Ho, Bold Men of Morocco", "My Little Castagnette"
* RedIsHeroic: The Shadow.
* SerenadeYourLover: The title song.
* ShipperOnDeck: ''Clementina'' in the reprise of "The Song of the Brass Key".
-->''Clementina:'' Give him the key, the key to your heart,\\
Help him to find the door\\
Tell him of Loveland's lore."
* SpicyLatina: Clementina.
* SpiritedYoungLady: Margot. Also Azuri, to some extent.
* SpiritualSuccessor: This can be seen as one to Theatre/TheRoseOfAlgeria. In both productions the setting is North Africa, the French hero has a family connection to the governor (De Lome's uncle/Pierre's father) and a strained relationship due to the hero's personality which differs from the "ideal" soldier. Both stories feature a protagonist in love with the other's alter ego and deal in some way with colonialism with the French Foreign Legion as a backdrop.
* SweetPollyOliver: Margot and the girls all dress up as soldiers for "French Military Marching Song."
* TheIngenue: Margot
* TheMaleIngenueMustBeATenor: Averted by Pierre/the Red Shadow, who is a lyric baritone. The tenor is Sid El Kar, a supporting role.
* TheVillainSucksSong: ''Azuri's Dance".
--->''Sid el-Kar (singing): Soft as a pigeon lights upon the sand,
--->Swift as a tiger she will grip his hand,
--->Claws of a tiger sharp with fury,
--->So is the maid Azuri.''
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: The Red Shadow was inspired by a Riff chieftain named Abdel Krim.
* WhatTheHellHero: The Red Shadow gets one over risking his friends' lives "for your woman."
* WomanScorned: Guess who?
* WreckedWeapon: Happens in the banishment scene.
!! The 1929 movie contains examples of the following tropes:
* ChewingTheScenery: Everyone, but ''especially'' Myrna Loy as Azuri and John Boles as The Red Shadow.
* CutSong: "Romance" and "One Good Boy Gone Wrong", a seduction duet between Benny and Clementina.
!! The 1943 movie contains examples of the following tropes:
* InNameOnly: Margot is now a singer, Pierre is now a pianist and American veteran of the Spanish Civil War called Paul Hudson, and his alter ego is now called El Khobar.
* LesCollaborateurs: New Moroccan villain Caid Youseff.
* MovieBonusSong: ''Many.'' "Asmar El Loon," "Gay Parisienne", "Fifi's Song," and "Long Live The Night" are four examples.
* RecycledINSPACE: ''The Desert Song'' WITH NAZIS!
* SettingUpdate: To WorldWarII.
* TheChanteuse: Margot sings at Benoit's Concert Palace, a nightclub frequented by French colonials.
* ThoseWackyNazis: Are building a railroad with slave labour.
!! The 1953 movie contains examples of the following tropes.
* AllWomenAreLustful: The implication of ''Margot'' singing "One Flower Grows Alone In Your Garden."
* TheCoverChangesTheMeaning: "One Flower Grows Alone In Your Garden" is now a song about how AllWomenAreLustful instead of an advice song about polygamy.
* CutSong: Almost ''all of the original score'', except for "One Alone", "One Flower Grows Alone In Your Garden", "Romance", "The Desert Song", and "The Riff Song."
* MovieBonusSong: "Long Live The Night" and "Gay Parisienne" from the 1943 version.
* TeacherStudentRomance: Paul/El Khobar is now Margot's Latin tutor.
* TheGeneralsDaughter: Margot