Kismet is a musical written in 1953 by Robert Wright
and George Forrest, adapted from the music of Alexander Borodin,
and produced by Charles Lederer. The musical was adapted from
the book by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis, based on the play
by Edward Knoblock.
With sumptuous settings and costumes by Lemuel
Ayers, it premiered on December 3, 1953 at the Ziegfeld Theatre
in New York in the midst of a newspaper strike and despite the
sparsity of reviews survived, running for 583 performances. The
strike, which allowed the show to become a hit through word-of-mouth,
may have been a blessing since the reviews were not all favorable.
One critic, punning on the name of the composer Borodin, disparaged
the score as "a lot of borrowed din." The show was even
more successful in London's West End, enjoying a 648-show run
at the Stoll Theatre. The London cast notably included Elaine
Malbin as Marsinah.
The musical Kismet was made into a Cinemascope
film in 1955 by MGM, starring Howard Keel as Hajj, Ann Blyth as
Marsinah, Dolores Gray as Lalume, and Vic Damone as the Caliph.
The soaring quartet version of "This is My Beloved"
was changed to a trio, because Sebastian Cabot, who played the
Wazir, could not sing. A studio cast recording of the musical.was
made in 1991 starring Samuel Ramey, Ruth Ann Swenson, Jerry Hadley
and Julia Migenes.
Jettisoning the lush oriental context and physical
production of the original, a 1978 restaging called Timbuktu!
set the story in Africa, with minimalistic settings. Plot emphasis
was shifted, with Eartha Kitt starring in the role of Lalume.
The musical was restaged in June and July 2007
by the English National Opera at the London Coliseum.