Franz Lehár (1870-1948) was incontestably one of the foremost masters of
the operetta. He abounded in creative ideas, was a supreme craftsman, a
temperamental musician whose artistry flowed in his blood, and a dramatist
who succeeded in breathing genuine life into the hackneyed figures of the
operetta genre. His most popular operettas were premiered between 1925 and
1929. These were the works whose wealth of ideas and emotionally florid,
sometimes even sentimental, melodies brought them greater fame than the
brilliant early works such as "The Count of Luxembourg" (1909) and "Gypsy
Love" (1910) - save for "The Merry Widow" (1905), his most popular operetta
of all. The works of this second creative period were also conceived with
one particular singer in mind: Richard Tauber. The most typical works of
this period are "Paganini" (1925), "The Czarevitch" (1927), "Friederike"
(1928) and "Das Land des Lächelns" (1929). Among Lehár's later operettas,
"Das Land des Lächelns" has been particularly successful. It revels in
color and rhythmic liveliness and the peculiar harmonies and melodies echo
the exoticism of the Chinese setting.