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Theatre / The Rose of Algeria

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The Rose of Algeria, an "exotic comic opera", originally called Algeria and premiering during the winter theatre season in 1909, is an operetta with music by Victor Herbert and libretto by Glen MacDonough, who also wrote the libretto for Herbert's 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland. The name was changed and the libretto revised after the operetta's lack of success in its first runs.

The plot focuses on Rebellious Princess Sultana Zoradie of an Algerian Bedouin tribe, the Barakeesh, and her determination to find the mysterious poet El Mokrani, who she has vowed to herself is the only man she wants to marry, so much that she holds out on signing a treaty with France and disguises herself as a fortune teller to discover the poet's identity. Zoradie's attempt to find the poet is complicated by a French captain, De Lome, being secretly in love with Miriam, the fortune teller, who is really Zoradie in disguise. Comedy is provided by the American deserter and owner "of a small menagerie" Van Cortlandt; Millicent, a female doctor accompanied by her nurses, and Mr. and Mrs. Cooings, a married couple.


This work contains examples of the following tropes.

  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Sort of. The first act setting (an oasis town called Sidi Ahmoud) is full of dancers, fortune tellers merchants and storytellers.
  • Beta Couple: Mr. and Mrs. Cooings.
  • Chest of Medals: Mentioned in the General's solo, "I've Been Decorated."
  • Fantasy Forbidding Uncle: De Lome wanted to be a poet but was forced into the army by his uncle, General Petitpons, the governor of Algeria. He sings a song about his youth in Paris.
  • Final Love Duet: The reprise of "Rose of the World", which is made up of the words of De Lome's poem, when De Lome and Zoradie end up together.
  • Gay Paree: The Act I song "The Old Boule' Miche'" is about the hero's former life as a Bohemian poet on Boulevard St. Michel and even mentions the Taverne du Pantheon, a famous Bohemian/student hangout in The Gay '90s and the 1900s.
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  • King Incognito: Zoradie is a queen incognito in the first act.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Millicent, Mr. and Mrs. Cooings, Van Cortlandt and two other American deserters.
  • Patter Song: "Mardi Gras to this court we have brought in Algiers..." the Opening Chorus of Act II. Arguably "Little Bird of Paradise" and "I've Been Decorated."
  • Rebellious Princess: Zoradie.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Desert Song can be seen as one to this. 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.
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  • Spot the Impostor: A series of men, including three deserters from the Foreign Legion, claim to be El Mokrani. Zoradie can spot them because their poetry is awful.


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