The Princess Theatre

In 1915 Jerome Kern formed a collaboration with Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. Together, the three men turned out a series of musicals often referred to as “The Princess Theatre Shows” the Princess Theatre being where most of them were produced. This was a tiny house, capacity two hundred and fifty, on West Thirty-ninth Street. The Princess Theatre shows were fresh and even startlingly new in sound and form, and both for the same reason: necessity. 

As Hammerstein describes the Princess Theatre:

There was no room on the stage for large choruses, and so there were no choruses at all except for ensemble quartets and sextets. A revolutionary orchestra was devised by Kern and his orchestrator, Frank Sadler. A new instrumentation called for eleven musicians because that was about all the pit would hold. These small shows had an intimate quality and a finesse that could not be matched in the larger houses on Broadway, and for many years the three collaborators were the darlings of the critics as well as the Broadway audiences they strove to please.” 

Having experienced a shocking moment in our history between the years 2019 and 2021, as time gone by I found myself writing some original music and lyrics that turned out to be particularly introspective and radical on my personal aesthetic level. This condition of necessity that renewed Jerome Kern’s musical language in 1915 has also touched me in these last years.

Returning somehow to a model I have grown with, that perfect balance between voice, piano and trumpet that you would have heard in the records of Bessie Smith, Bertha Chippie Hill or Ida Cox, where the narration is intimate and powerful at the same time, I found a formula that allowed my musical imagination to embrace the song form without giving up my experimental attitude.

Since long time I have wanted to pay homage to the extraordinary artistic partnership and friendship that I am fortunate to have formed with Paolo Birro, fine, irreplaceable, uncompromising artist, a researcher who refines his very personal trajectory towards the authenticity of language every day with elegance and passion, from which I never stop learning.

Like a magical and unpredictable epiphany, like that beautiful painting by William Turner “The burning of the Houses of Parliament” surprisingly glowed up the musical presence of Fabrizio Bosso, who embroidered the drape of the sky on my original compositions with his diamond trumpet. This record is my Princess Theatre. Vanessa