By

Ralph Harpuder

        I was recently rummaging through an old file of unorganized Shanghai memorabilia, I stumbled on a genuine and rare photograph of the, then popular and talented actor and comedian, Gerhardt Gottschalk, dressed in costume for the light­hearted operetta, “Der Bettelstudent” (Figure one).

The back of the well preserved photograph shows the name of the operetta, the performer, and the date of the actual performance (Figure two).

It was serendipity that yours truly also found a Hongkew Jewish newspaper that showed an announcement of the operetta, with all the names of the performers including, of course, the then beloved Gottschalk* (Figure three).

The operetta, “Der Bettelstudent,” first performed in December of 1882, was one of 18 operettas composed by Karl Milloecker, an Austrian composer who was born in Vienna in 1842. We may say that this operetta and the operetta, “Gasparone,” were the two most popular ones from his music repertoire. Their highlights are usually presented together on a single phonograph record or CD (Figure four). Most of us Shanghailanders alive today may not remember the warm-hearted or, if yours truly may use the cliché, schmaltzy Viennese operettas that were enjoyed by our parents, performed by Jewish artists most of whom were already accomplished artists in the country from where they fled the Nazis in the late 30’s. The larger percentage of operettas, like “The Bettelstudent,” were usually presented at the Eastern Theater on Muirhead Road in the Heart of the Jewish Ghetto, also at the Alcock Saal and, before and after the war, at the Lyceum located outside the ghetto.
Among those operettas was Franz Lehar’s, “Graf von Luxemburg” (Figure five), Johan Strauss’s, (“Die Fledermaus” (Figure six), and Lehar’s, “Die Lustige Witwe.”


Gerhardt Gottschalk died at the age of 75 on September 10, 1974 in San Francisco, California appeared in
almost all of the operettas performed in Shanghai during those trying years.
 

See the previous articles on Gerhardt Gottschalk listed on the right-hand column of the Rickshaw Website:
1) Gerhardt Gottschalk
2) A tribute to the Artists 

The Photograph and the newspaper clippings, courtesy Andreas Heinsius

 

Fig 3 & 4
Fig 5

 

Fig. 1 & 2
Fig 6