Henry Higgins, an arrogant, irascible professor of phonetics, boasts to fellow linguist Colonel Pickering that he can train any woman to speak so properly that he could pass her off as a duchess. Pickering is intrigued by Higgins´s boast and wagers that Higgins cannot make good on his claim. Higgins takes on the challenge. He chooses as his subject Eliza Doolittle, a poor girl with a strong Cockney accent whom he encounters selling flowers in Covent Garden. An intensive makeover of Eliza´s speech, manners, and dress begins in preparation for her appearance at the Embassy Ball.
Complicating matters is Eliza´s father, Alfred P. Doolittle (Stanley Holloway), a cheerfully amoral and drink-loving dustman. He shows up to extract money from Higgins, claiming that Higgins is compromising Eliza´s virtue. Higgins is impressed by the man´s natural gift for language and his brazen lack of moral values (´Can´t afford ´em!´). So he flippantly recommends Doolittle to an American millionaire who is seeking a lecturer on moral values. In the end, Doolittle gets a surprise bequest of four thousand pounds a year from the millionaire. This raises him uncomfortably into middle-class respectability.
Meanwhile, Eliza endures speech tutoring, endlessly repeating phrases like ´In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen” (to demonstrate that ´h´s must be aspirated) and ´The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain´ (to practice the ´long a´ phoneme). Just as things seem hopeless, she suddenly ´gets it´ after Higgins eloquently speaks of the glory of the English language. Thereafter her pronunciation is transformed into that of impeccable upper class English. For her first public tryout, Higgins takes her to Ascot Racecourse. There she makes a good impression with her polite manners but shocks everyone by her vulgar Cockney attitudes and slang (thus establishing one of the show´s themes: good elocution is only ´skin deep´). But she captures the heart of an eager young man named Freddy Eynsford-Hill.
The final test requires Eliza to pass as a lady at the Embassy Ball. She does this admirably, even fooling a rival of Higgins, a Hungarian phonetician named Zoltan Karpathy, into believing that Eliza was ´born Hungarian.´ After the ball, Higgins´s ungrateful boasting about his triumph and his pleasure that the experiment is now over leave Eliza feeling used and abandoned. She walks out on Higgins, leaving the clueless professor mystified by her ingratitude. But Higgins soon realizes his feelings for her: he has ´grown accustomed to her face.´ When Eliza tentatively returns to him, the musical ends on an ambiguous moment of possible reconciliation between teacher and pupil.
Henry Higgins, an arrogant, irascible professor of phonetics, boasts to fellow linguist Colonel Pickering >> Read more
The Volksoper is Vienna’s main stage for operetta, opera, musicals and ballet, offering sophisticated musical entertainment. Colourful, eclectic and full of vitality, it is the only theatre dedicated to the genre of operetta.
Operetta belongs to Vienna and Vienna installed it at the home of operetta, Volksopera Vienna, which thereupon became the leading operetta house in the world. First class singers, actors and dancers together with a versatile orchestra cunjure up a musical firework display every evening.
Johann Strauss, Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kálmán wrote their world famous beloved melodies for operettas such as “The Fledermaus”, “The Merry Widow” and “The Csárdás Princess”. A visit to at least one of these operettas at the Volksopera Vienna is a must for every visitor to Vienna!
In the repertory theatre, which seats 1,337 persons, some 300 performances of around 35 different productions are staged every year between September and June.