An Evening With Barbra Streisand
1966 Concert Tour
Newport, Rhode Island
July 30, 1966
The first stop on Barbra's short, 1966 concert tour was Festival Field in Newport, Rhode Island—home of the Newport Jazz Festival (Streisand was reportedly paid $50,000 and a percentage of the gate for this show). Peter Matz was Barbra's concert conductor.
George Wein—an American jazz promoter and producer who founded the summer Newport Jazz Festival—wrote about Streisand's 1966 appearance in his book, Myself Among Others. He recalled that “the comedian Alan King and a partner of his, Walter Hyman, had made arrangements with her management to present her in several cities [ ... ] Part of Streisand's show called for a scrim. A scrim is a sheer screen that, depending on the direction of the lighting, can be either opaque or translucent. I wasn't aware of this element of the production, but on the afternoon before the concert, Walter Hyman and I were conversing in the administration office on the field. Looking out through a window that overlooked the stage, I saw this workmanlike exercise underway. The festival production team and Streisand's guys were hanging this enormous scrim across the expanse of the stage. It was obvious that this was an expensive process; the festival had never done anything this elaborate.
“I said to Walter Hyman, ‘Wow, you're really doing a first-class production. This must be costing you a fortune.’
“Looking at me in surprise, he said, ‘I thought you were paying for it.’”
Below: Very rare silent Super 8 film of Streisand, Marty Erlichman, and Sadie in rehearsal and on stage for the Rhode Island show. It was shot by the Hoffman family of New York, and converted by Priceless Preservation, an Ann Arbor, Michigan archiving firm.
(Below: Wire photo of Streisand. Caption reads: "With pet poodle Sady [Sadie] under her arm musical comedy star Barbra Streisand arrives at Newport, R.I., today for one-night appearance at music festival tonight. Barbra is expecting her first baby in December.")
Gross ticket sales for Barbra Streisand's appearance tomorrow night at Festival Field already have topped the largest previous gate receipts for a Streisand performance, her manager said today.
Martin Erlichman said more than $125,000 in ticket sales were made here. It also was the largest gate for a professional performance in Newport.
Festival Field officials said they expected a "near capacity" house for the Streisand show. Tickets are selling for $5, $6, $8 and $10, and are available at the field box office.
Miss Streisand will sing for 1½ to 2 hours, breaking her appearance into a 30- to 40-minute segment, a 15-minute intermission and a 45- to- 60-minute segment. The bulk of her material will be so-called "straight" songs, some comedy numbers and monologues included, her manager said.
For some of her songs, Miss Streisand will wear a Dior dress specially created for her by Marc Bohan, chief couturier of the famous Paris fashion house.
A ramp has been installed which extends from the stage out to the box seat area. Special lights have also been put in.
Miss Streisand will sing among other numbers, "People," "Happy Days Are Here Again," "Second Hand Rose," "Cry Me A River," and "When the Sun Comes Out."
She also will introduce for the first time in public some French songs, which will be heard in an album to be released in the fall. These and other songs in the album are being arrange by Michel LeGrand.
She will be accompanied by a 35-piece orchestra, directed by conductor-pianist Peter Matz. The orchestra will open the program with an overture composed of songs featured by Miss Streisand.
As the audience files in, Johnny Depo will play the electric organ from 7:30 to 8:15 p.m. The program will begin at 8:30 [...]
— Newport Daily News, July 29, 1966
FANS SAY BARBRA NEVER IN BETTER SHAPE
By Judy Heyman and Al Cohn
Barbra Streisand stood on the stage of the Newport Music Festival Stadium at the end of her concert Saturday night, finished with a full evening of singing and clowning. She is about midway through her pregnancy now and was clearly exhausted, but the sellout crowd of 16,000 applauded as though it would never tire. "Thank you," she was finally able to say, grinning, "thank you for coming to see such a schlep."
Some schlep. The Brooklyn-born singer, recently returned from the London run of "Funny Girl," might have been wondering if her popularity had waned during her absence. The reaction to the concert here had to be a resounding answer. Whatever she did — and she did plenty — drew enthusiastic cheering, much of it coming out of standing ovations.
Miss Streisand came on stage in a flowing, floor-length brown and red chiffon dress and led off in a straight style, with serious offerings of "Where Am I Going?" and "No Strings." But it wasn't long before she was back to her familiar kooky self, kibitzing with a little-girl rendition of "I Hate Music" and poking fun at the folk-song rage.
In one jab at the folk idiom, she started telling a ludicrous story about a girl from Cambodia who was going to kill herself when she lost her lover to her sister, but decided against singing the song that she said would follow. "You're not laughing," she said, "so I'm not singing." Later she sang a spoof of a folk song, stopping every few words to explain the strange vernacular.
For the second half of the concert, Miss Streisand appeared in a black fitted sequin gown. The highlight of this portion of the concert was a well received medley of her best known songs, including "People," "He Touched Me" and "Second Hand Rose." In addition to the ballads and novelty numbers, she sang several blues songs, like "Cry Me a River."
After the concert, Miss Streisand held a brief press conference, which amounted to more clowning around. When will she go back to work after her baby is born? "Never," she giggled before saying it would be about two months afterward. Were the flowing gowns worn with the purpose of playing down her "condition"? "I always wear dresses of this style," she said wryly, "only now they're right for the occasion."
The climax of the entertainment at Festival Field during July—and there's been a lot of it—came Saturday night when the incomparable Barbra Streisand appeared in what was a shorter than expected concert.
The concert didn't start until 8:50 p.m. and approximately 17,000 fans were getting restless when Miss Streisand finally came on stage in a flowing brown and red chiffon dress.
Her first song was “Where Am I Going?” and it was followed by “There Are No Strings on Me,” a song well-suited to Miss Streisand's personality and philosophy.
The fullest enjoyment of these first numbers, especially the first, was impossible for the box seat patrons because hundreds of flash bulbs were popping in the field behind them. They didn't seem to annoy the singer.
Miss Streisand was splendidly supported by the orchestra of Peter Matz, which was faintly visible behind a gauze curtain stretched across the stage. Her act was greatly enhanced by what was incredibly beautiful lighting, the best we've seen in any production.
She had only two props, a low stool upon which she occasionally perched and her flowing gown which she wrapped and unwrapped around her through the first half. In the second half she wore a black sequin dress which was more form fitting.
The singer, who claims she is an actress first and we agree with her, changed into a comedienne with “I Hate Music but I Like to Sing.” Her wonderfully mobile face was a joy to watch.
She used her expressive face and gestures to perfection in “Down With Love,” a slow, torchy number in which she reveals all the hurt of a woman cast aside and all the triumph of a bitter woman when the lover wants to come back. This was one of her best.
She kept her numbers short and she varied her technique, growling out a torch song full of hurt then subsiding into a soft and low number such as “If You Were the Only Girl,” a song with great sincerity and yearning.
Through the first half the audience sat fascinated, almost mesmerized, even through her somewhat long but funny explanation of a folk song in which she displayed her gift of mimicry as she sounded like the typical breathless folksinger explaining the story about to be sung. Hers, however, was hilarious.
During the second half she sang “Silent Night” as beautifully as we've ever heard it sung. Also beautifully done was “Autumn Leaves,” sung soft and low and with only light orchestra accompaniment.
She did another comedy hit, explaining all the terms in a song to follow, coaching the audience on the terms, then ended up singing one short verse using the terms.
Those who were waiting for “Second Hand Rose” were not disappointed. Neither were those waiting for her “People.” The only real disappointment of the evening, in fact, was the shortness of the second half.
After “People,” Miss Streisand thanked George Wein and her orchestra; asked if there were really more than 16,000 people in the audience; and then launched into a bit of banter with audience members which would better have been eliminated. Another song would have been far better.
Her last song was “Happy Days Are Here Again,” sung in a way it's never been sung by another entertainer, slowly, sadly, and almost questioningly. She then left the stage for what most assumed was a moment. She returned only to take a few bows. The concert was over.
The legend of the youthful star is so great, however, that the audience gracefully accepted the fact that she had finished her concert. She left the stage and that was that. After a moment or two of loud cries for more, all got up and went home.
Newport Set List
- Where Am I Going?
- I've Got No Strings
- I'll Tell the Man in the Street
- Cry Me A River
- Gotta Move
- If I Were the Only Girl in the World
- Melancholy Baby
- Down With Love
- Who Will Buy?
- When the Sun Comes Out
- I Can See It
- Silent Night
- What Now My Love?
- Autumn Leaves
- I Wish You Love
- He Touched Me
- I'm All Smiles
- Folk Song (“A Schloon for the Gumpert”)
- The Music That Makes Me Dance *
- Second Hand Rose
- Happy Days Are Here Again
* Streisand sang an electrifying version of “Music” that evening that incorporated a rarely-heard verse written by Styne/Merrill as the bridge of the song:
To me love is no go till fiddle and oboe start weeping, wailing
That's my failing
He may be wrong for me, but his the only song for me ...
** This set list was confirmed by two sources: (1) an audience recording of the second act; (2) special thanks to Tom B. who corroborated the Newport set list. He attended the 1966 concert and wrote the songs down in his program!
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