Reuben, Reuben (opera)

Reuben, Reuben is a 1955 "urban folk opera"[1] by Marc Blitzstein. Set in New York's Little Italy and inspired by the Faust legend,[2] it concerns Reuben, a suicidal veteran who has received a medical discharge because he cannot speak. His disorder serves as an allegory of the difficulties of interpersonal communication in society, and of the eventual triumph of love over these difficulties and over the death wish.[3]

The original cast included Eddie Albert as Reuben, Evelyn Lear as Reuben's love interest Nina, Kaye Ballard as the Countess, Enzo Stuarti as Attilio, George Gaynes as Bart, Sondra Lee as Gisella, and Timmy Everett as Blazer. Other cast members included Lear's husband Thomas Stewart, Allen Case, Emile Renan, William Pierson, and Anita Darian. Hanya Holm choreographed, Robert Lewis stage directed, and Cheryl Crawford produced the show.[4][5]

The opera's initial run, in Boston, was a failure: audience members left in the middle of the show, and critics panned it. Nevertheless, Leonard Bernstein named his daughter Nina after the play's heroine.[6]

Musical numbers include "Never Get Lost," "Monday Morning Blues," "Mystery of the Flesh," and "The Hills of Amalfi."


  1. ^ Lehrman, Leonard (2005). Marc Blitzstein: a bio-bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  2. ^ Peyser, Joan (1995). The Music of My Time. Pro/AM Music Resources Inc. p. 114.
  3. ^ Cody, Gabrielle; Evert Sprinchorn (2007). The Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama, volume 1. Columbia University Press. p. 168.
  4. ^ Lewis, Robert (1996). Slings and Arrows: Theater in My Life. Hal Leonard. pp. 241–244.
  5. ^ "John Willis' theatre world". 12. Crown Publishers. 1956: 166. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Suskin, Steven (2010). Show Tunes: The Songs, Shows, and Careers of Broadway's Major Composers. Oxford University Press. p. 181.