I'll have to look into something about the Nights being a stage phenomenon, particularly in the early 20th century. Something was all the rage with the Nights on stage.
A 2008 production of Chu Chin Chow (what a name!) in the UK spurred my looking into the topic.
From wikipedia: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chu_Chin_Chow)
The success of the "Arabian Nights" production Kismet (a 1911 play by Edward Knoblock, upon which the 1953 musical is based) inspired Oscar Asche to write and produce Chu Chin Chow. Asche also played the lead role of Abu Hasan, leader of the forty thieves (the "Chu Chin Chow" of the title is actually the robber chief himself impersonating one of his victims). Besides Asche, the production starred his wife, Lily Brayton, and Courtice Pounds.
- Apparently it was a hugely successful play (CCC)
Here's the new review from the UK: http://www.southportvisiter.co.uk/southport-entertainment/2008/12/05/una-voce-opera-company-do-chu-chin-chow-at-southport-arts-centre-101022-22407514/
Una Voce Opera Company do Chu Chin Chow at Southport Arts Centre
Dec 5 2008 by Kathryn Carr, Southport Visiter
OPERA fans can escape the winter chill with a magical, musical tale of the East, courtesy of Una Voce Opera Company.
The company is proud to present its Christmas production, Chu Chin Chow, one of the longest-running musicals in history.
Written by Oscar Asche with music composed by Frederic Norton in 1916, the show is based on the Arabian Nights Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and includes musicalfavourites such as The Cobbler’s Song and Any Time’s Kissing-time.
Clare Hyams and Eunice Woof MBE will share the role of Mahbubah, while the visiting star of the show will be Jane Zoo, from Hong Kong, who will sing the role of Marjanah (originally made famous by Anna May Wong).
Jane, who was born in Beijing, completed her undergraduate training in 2005 at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
She has just finished postgraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, studying with Sandra Dugdale.
While at the college Jane played the role of the Hen in The Cunning Little Vixen.
In opera excerpts she performed the roles of Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Romilda in Serse, Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia and the title rôle in Lakmé.
Jane was in the premiere of Fei Jia Dong, a contemporary multimedia music theatre piece at the Arts Centre in Hong Kong.
She also appeared as an opera singer in Kubert Leung’s film Wonderful Times and sang the title song.
The talented star was a semi-finalist in the Stuart Burrows International Singing Competition in Wales, and was invited as a guest artist to sing in the London Week of Peace concert in Trafalgar Square.
She also sang in the Great Elm Vocal Awards finalist concert in the Wigmore Hall.
Jane has recently signed a recording contract with Shlepp Records.
Chu Chin Chow marks Jane’s début guest appearance with Una Voce Opera Company.
Performances are at Southport Arts Centre until Saturday, December 6. Tickets are £10-£16.50.
Concessions and group rates are available. Tickets to the 2.30pm Saturday matinee are £8.
To book, call Southport Arts Centre box office on 01704 540011, or visit www.seftonarts.co.uk