Serenade: A Memoir of Music and Love from Vienna and Prague to Los Angeles, 1927 to World War II to 2012
Her parents’ flight from Nazi Germany to Hollywood prompted Delmar, now an opera critic, to produce this vivid portrait of the couple’s leap for freedom. Using her father’s audiotapes as source material, the author presents the Delmars’ romance like an opera in three acts. The first is set in Vienna in 1927, when young Franz and Franziska meet. The scene then shifts to Prague in 1937, where Franz, a singer, is hailed as a “bright new face in opera.” But in 1939, they are forced to flee to the United States via Panama City and Havana. En route to the country that will become their home, the dramatic tension builds when Franz realizes that he has lost his operatic mojo and consequently his livelihood. Despite this crisis, he takes solace in the knowledge that his voice was his ticket out of Austria during a bloody chapter of world history. Once in Hollywood, Franz refuses an offer for an onscreen role from director Otto Preminger and embarks on a successful new career as a costumer, supervising on the set of popular television shows such as The Untouchables with Robert Stack. This biography adds a personal dimension to the literature of the 20th-century Jewish diaspora. With family photos, letters, and an appendix.