One Night of Love (1934): Oscar-Winning Operetta, Starring Grace Moore

One Night of Love was Columbia’s star vehicle (sort of a comeback performance) for Grace Moore, previously at MGM, where she made only a few films.

Playing a variation of her real life, Moore, a Metropolitan opera diva, stars as an aspiring soprano, torn between her professional life (represented by her teacher Tullio Carminati) and her personal life (represented by Lyle Talbot).

Our Grade: B (*** out of *****)

Among the operetta’s highlights are Bel Canto songs from Pucini’s “Madama Butterfly” Bellini’s “Lucia Di Lammermoor,” and Bizet’s Carmen,” alongside more popular tunes by Gus Khan, such as the melodic “Ciri-Biri-Bin.”

A former concerto Violinist, director Victor Schertzinger began his Hollywood career in 1917, but unfortunately his career was short; he died in 1941.

Detailed Plot (How the Narrative Unfolds)
Mary Barrett (Grace Moore) leaves her family in NYC to study music in Milan. She gets a job at Cafe Roma, where famous coach Giulio Monteverdi (Carminati), hears her sing. Giulio promises to make Mary a star if she grants him control.  He tells her there cannot be no romantic bond as it would distract from the process.

Mary discovers she has stage fright as she prepares for touring provincial opera houses, and Giulio helps her overcome it.  Under Giulio’s tutelage, Mary gets fed up with his dominance.

The two meet Giulio’s old pupil, Lally (Mona Barrie), while in Vienna. Lally once tried to be romantic with Giulio, but was rejected. This history renders Mary jealous and she pretends to have laryngitis. Mary thinks Giulio has gone to Lally to rekindle a romance, and visits Bill Houston (Lyle Talbot), a friend who had proposed marriage.

In a jealous huff, Mary decides not to sing that night in order to punish Giulio. Giulio tells Mary that Lally will replace her on stage, but then proposes to Mary.
She decides to go on, and Mary’s performance of Bizet’s Carmen wins her invitation to the Metropolitan Opera. Giulio, still does not believe she is ready for such a venue.

Lally lies to Mary that she is still involved with Bill, who has actually returned to New York. On the night of her debut in Madame Butterfly, Mary is too nervous to go on stage until she sees Giulio seated in his usual place, the prompter’s box.

Oscar Nominations: 6

Picture, produced by Harry Cohn with Everett Riskin
Director: Victor Schertzinger
Actress: Grace Moore
Editing: Gene Milford
Sound recording: John Livadary
Song: Columbia Music Department, Louis Silvers head; thematic music by Victor Schertzinger and Gus Kahn

Oscar Awards: 2

Sound recording
Score

Oscar Context

In 1934, One Night of Love competed for the Best Picture Oscar with eleven other films: The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Cleopatra, Flirtation Walk, The Gay Divorcee, Here Comes the Navy, The House of Rothchild, Imitation of Life, It Happened One Night, The Thin Man, Viva Villa!, and The White Parade.

It Happened One Night swept most of the Oscars, including Best Picture, Director for Capra and Actess for Claudette Colbert. The Editing Award went to Conrad Nevig for “Eskimo.”

Cast

Grace Moore – Mary Barrett
Tullio Carminati – Giulio Monteverdi
Lyle Talbot – Bill Houston
Mona Barrie – Lally
Jessie Ralph – Angelina
Luis Alberni – Giovanni
Andrés de Segurola – Galuppi
Nydia Westman – Muriel

Opera Arias
Chi mi frena from Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti
Sempre libera from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi
Ah! fors’ è lui from La Traviata
Habanera from Carmen by Georges Bizet
Un bel di from Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini

Songs
Funiculì, Funiculà, Neapolitan song by Luigi Denza 1880
Santa Lucia, traditional Neapolitan song
O Sole Mio, by Eduardo Di Capua
The Last Rose of Summer, by Thomas Moore
Ciri-Biri-Bin, by Alberto Pestalozza