|A young Maria Kutschera|
But, as many should know, when Hollywood makes a film based on a true story, it is rare that the details are exactly true to life.
The real Maria Augusta Kutschera was born on January 26, 1905 in Vienna, Austria. Orphaned by age seven, Maria was reportedly a tomboy and maintained a mischievous streak all through her life. She nonetheless completed her education and became a postulant at Nonberg Abbey in Salzburg in 1923.
|The real Von Trapp Family|
|Georg Von Trapp|
|The Trapp Family Singers|
During the annexation of Austria by the Nazis, the Trapps objected to the ideals of the Nazi party and in 1938, despite Maria being pregnant with her third child, the Trapps went from Austria to Italy and finally immigrated to the United States, touring as the Trapp Family Choir and then as the Trapp Family Singers. They finally settled in a new home in Vermont. Georg died of lung cancer in 1947.
In 1949, after being persuaded into writing the story of her life, Maria published The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, which would be followed by four more books about herself and her family published through 1972.
|A still from The Trapp Family|
The German films had been quite successful, and an American company was looking into doing a remake with an English cast. The plans fell through, but it was suggested that the story be adapted into a Broadway musical. The play was written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and had an original score written by the famous team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and opened on Broadway November 16, 1959 as The Sound of Music.
|The original cast of |
The Sound of Music
In the play, Maria is not an ideal asset to the Abbey, but the Mother Abbess sees potential in her anyway and sends her to be the governess for the von Trapp family's seven children. The strict Captain von Trapp calls everyone with a whistle and has forbid singing in his home, but this soon changes as Maria forms an immediate bond with the children by teaching them to sing.
As Maria and the children grow close and the Captain becomes closer with his children, Maria and the Captain strike up a subtle and unspoken romance, but he has a Baroness visiting who is more forward with her intentions to marry him. Feeling unsure of herself, Maria returns to the Abbey.
Maria is encouraged by the Mother Abbess to follow her heart, even if it is away from the Abbey, and soon she and the Captain address their feelings for each other and marry. However, as the Nazis annex Austria, the family evades their attempts to make the Captain fight for them. The changing nature of Austria is displayed in an original character named Rolf, suitor to the eldest daughter who joins and wholeheartedly supports the Nazis.
In a finale created for the play, the family sings at a concert, escaping after their win to the Abbey, where the nuns help hide them from the Nazis intent on taking the Captain to report for duty and also sabotage the Nazis' cars. Rolf spies the family, but upon seeing his love interest, declines to betray them to his lieutenant. The family escapes over the mountains away from their old home but to a new life together.
The play was a hit, despite being noted for its very sweet nature. The von Trapp family were actually not pleased with the liberties taken with their life story, and who could blame them? The story of how they fell on hard times and left their home land was very personal to them, and to have it exploited and fictionalized was not very flattering.
|The Pratt Family Singers|
The film featured exterior locations in Salzburg, and during the filming, the real Maria visited and can even be seen in the background of one of the shots. Though she knew she had no creative control of the film, she was very kind and amiable to the cast and crew.
|Maria's cameo in The Sound of Music|
|The movie's poster|
The film has been very successful since its original run in 1965, winning six Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. It's since become a classic on television, home video and theatrical releases. A friend who is well-versed in musical theater mentioned that the movie is an example of the right way to do a stage to film adaptation.
|Maria in her later years|
The legacy of the Trapp Family Singers and Maria has largely been based around The Sound of Music in spinoffs of the movie and further productions of the play, including a 2013 live televised production for NBC starring Carrie Underwood as Maria.
|Maria and the children in NBC's|
The Sound of Music Live
|Title card of Trapp Family Story|
There is one further adaptation of Maria's story: the Japanese anime トラップ一家物語 (Torappu Ikka Monogatari, Trapp Family Story), which ran in 1991. It reportedly took several liberties in expanding the story into a 40-episode series.
The story of the Trapp family and The Sound of Music have struck a chord with people over the years in the story of a woman stepping in as a surrogate mother and eventually a stepmother, and how the family was not willing to back down in their beliefs in what was right, even if it meant losing their home. Perhaps it is well for us to remember the lessons it teaches.