Albums

A Little Night Music – London Cast 1975 (Arkiv version)

A Little Night Music – London Cast 1975 (Arkiv version)

Listen

  1. Disc 1
  2. 1. Overture / Night Waltz
  3. 2. Now / Later / Soon
  4. 3. The Glamorous Life
  5. 4. Remember?
  6. 5. You Must Meet My Wife
  7. 6. Liaisons
  8. 7. In Praise of Women
  9. 8. Every Day a Little Death
  10. 9. A Weekend in the Country
  11. 10. The Sun Won’t Set
  12. 11. It Would Have Been Wonderful
  13. 12. Perpetual Anticipation
  14. 13. Send In the Clowns
  15. 14. The Miller’s Son
  16. 15. Finale – Send In the Clowns / Night Waltz (reprises)

Synopsis

Before the curtain rises the Overture is sung by a quintet comprising Jacquey Chappell, Liz Robertson, Christine Melville, John J. Moore and David Bexon, followed by “Night Waltz,” as elegant couples dance through a sylvan setting, presaging the romantic flirtations and frustrations to come.

In the Prologue that follows, Madame Armfeldt (Hermione Gingold), a woman who has numbered kings among her lovers, tells her granddaughter, Fredrika (Christine McKenna) of the summer night that smiles three times: “The first smile smiles at the young, who know nothing. The second at the fools, who know too little, like Desirée. And the third at the old, who know too much ¬– like me.”

In the Egermans’ home, lawyer Fredrik (Joss Ackland) prepares for an afternoon nap before taking his young wife Anne (Veronica Page) to see Desirée Armfeldt at the local theater. While Anne chatters on, he voices his frustrations at being married to a wife who is still a virgin. “Now – there are two possibilities: A, I could ravish her; B, I could nap.”

Petra, the maid (Diane Langton), quite different from Anne, teases Henrik, the high-minded student son of Fredrik’s first marriage (Terry Mitchell). But when he makes a clumsy attack on her she goes out saying, “Later! You’ll soon get the knack of it.” Henrik takes his cello – “Later? When is later? All you ever hear is ‘Later, Henrik, Iater… ‘”

In the bedroom, as Fredrik falls asleep, Anne announces her intention of becoming a proper wife to him. “Soon, I promise, soon I won’t shy away.” Her song becomes a trio as she is joined by Henrik and Fredrik, who, still asleep, ends to her astonishment with a heartfelt, “Desirée.”

In her dressing room Desirée Armfeldt (Jean Simmons), the beguiling actress who was once Fredrik’s mistress, sings of her life in the theater, accompanied by the quintet, while her mother, Madame Armfeldt, and Fredrika make acid comments: “Hi-ho – The Glamorous Life.”

That evening at the theater Desirée immediately spots Fredrik and Anne in a box, and, while Anne’s suspicions are aroused, the quintet comments on past romance: “Remember? The funny little game that we played; remember? The unexpected knock of the maid,
remember?” and Anne runs sobbing from the theater.

Fredrik takes Anne home and then decides to go out for a walk. He goes straight to Desirée’s lodgings, and despite not having seen one another for fourteen years, their relationship is almost immediately revived. First Fredrik sings the praise of Anne, to which Desirée listens coolly. “She gives me funny names, like… ‘Old dry-as-dust!’ Wouldn’t she just? You must meet my wife.”

Meanwhile Madame Armfeldt bemoans the lack of style in modern day romances:
“Liaisons: what’s happened to them? Liaisons today. Disgraceful! What’s become of them? Some of them hardly pay their shoddy way.”

Desirée and Fredrik are interrupted in the bedroom by the arrival of her current lover, a wildly jealous dragoon, Carl-Magnus (David Kernan), and they hastily invent a thin story involving a hip bath and some legal papers to explain away their state of deshabille. Carl-Magnus, sending Fredrik home without his trousers, tries to assess Desirée’s fidelity – “In Praise of Women.”

The following day he sends his wife Charlotte (Maria Aitken) to call on Anne and tell her of Fredrik’s perfidy – “Every Day a Little Death.”

Desirée goes to her mother’s country house and arranges for the Egermans to be invited for the weekend. Anne is horrified when the invitation arrives but, after discussing the matter with Charlotte, decides to accept. Carl-Magnus and Charlotte also decide to go –uninvited – “A Weekend in the Country – How amusing, how delightfully droll.

A weekend in the country, while we’re losing our control.”

As the second act begins, guests are arriving at Madame Armfeldt’s mansion. The quintet sets the scene for the long Northern white night: “The Sun Won’t Set. It’s fruitless to hope or to fret: it’s dark as it’s going to get.”

Meeting again, Fredrik and Carl-Magnus reflect how the situation with Desirée could have ended differently: “If she’d been covered with glitter, or even been covered with mould, It Would Have Been Wonderful.”

As the guests arrive for dinner the women from the quintet drift in and out, singing “Perpetual Anticipation is good for the soul, but it’s bad for the heart.” But the dinner turns into a verbal battle and ends with a furious Henrik smashing his wineglass and running from the room. Anne and Fredrika search for him while Fredrik makes his way to Desirée’s bedroom. She reveals the true reason for the invitation: she wishes to revive their previous love – on a permanent basis. But Fredrik, unwilling to give up Anne, leaves her alone. “Isn’t it rich? Are we a pair? Me here at last on the ground, you in mid-air. Send In the Clowns.”

Anne finds Henrik just as he is about to commit suicide, and realizing that she loves the boy, not his father, runs off with him. Petra, having made love with the butler Frid, expresses her romantic and practical feeling on life: “I shall marry The Miller’s Son, pin my hat on a nice piece of property.”

When Charlotte consoles Fredrik for the loss of both his wife and son, Carl-Magnus discovers the two embracing and, furious, challenges Fredrik to a duel. From the grounds a shot is heard, and Carl-Magnus returns carrying Fredrik’s body. But he has only suffered a minor flesh wound. Carl-Magnus orders Charlotte to pack. Left together, Fredrik and Desirée realize that they are meant to be together – Finale: “Make way for the clowns; applause for the clowns – they’re finally here.”

The comedy ended, Madame Armfeldt tells Fredrika that the night has already smiled twice – once for the young and once for the fools. As the lovers dance through the birch trees to “Night Waltz,” the night smiles down for the third and final time.

– Notes by Martin Tickner

Credits

Mr. Lindquist: John J. Moore
Mrs. Nordstrom: Chris Melville
Mrs. Anderssen: Liz Robertson
Mr. Erlanson: David Bexon
Mrs. Segstrom: Jacquey Chappell
Fredrika Armfeldt: Christine McKenna
Madame Armfeldt: Hermione Gingold
Frid, her butler: Michael Harbour
Henrik Egerman: Terry Mitchell
Anne Egerman: Veronica Page
Fredrik Egerman: Joss Ackland
Petra: Diane Langton
Desirée Armfeldt: Jean Simmons
Bertrand, a page: Christopher Beeching
Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm: David Kernan
Countess Charlotte Malcolm: Maria Aitken
Osa: Penelope Potter