Rose Marie. Popular US operetta (and later, movie), partly responsible for the widely held image of Canada as a land solely of Mounties, mountains, and snow. Book and lyrics are by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II, and the score is by Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart. Rose Marie opened 2 Sep 1924 at the Imperial Theater in New York and ran for 16 months (557 performances). A touring company, which included Irene Pavloska, gave the Canadian premiere 12 Jan 1925 at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre. Later productions in Canada included those by the Variétés lyriques (1937, 1945, in French), TUTS (1940s), Melody Fair (1951), the Eaton Operatic Society (1959), the Shaw Festival (1981), and many amateur groups.
Rose Marie is perhaps best known around the world as a movie. Four versions were made: the first two in 1928 as silent pictures (one was not released); the third and most popular in 1936, with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald (re-released in the 1980s on MGM/UA Home Video); and a fourth in 1954.
Set in the Rocky Mountains, on the plains of Saskatchewan, and in the ballroom of the Château Frontenac hotel in Quebec City, the operetta was intended to appeal to US audiences' taste for the exotic. Rose Marie La Flamme is in love with Jim Kenyon of the Northwest Mounted Police. Kenyon has been accused of murder and Rose Marie stands ready to save her lover's life by giving herself to another. But Kenyon is vindicated, the Mounties get their man, and the lovers are reunited. (The plot underwent extensive changes in each of the movies.)
Among the show's most popular songs were 'Rose Marie,' 'Indian Love Call' (a duet for Rose Marie and Jim), and 'Totem Tom-Tom.' The many recordings of its music are listed in Jack Raymond's Show Music on Record (New York 1982), including excerpts recorded in 1925 by the Victor Light Opera Co (Vic 35756), highlights from the 1936 movie (RCA RPV-526/ Hollywood Soundstage 414), and the complete operetta in 1958 (RCA Victor LSO-1001) by a cast starring Julie Andrews and Giorgio Tozzi.