Before breaking into Broadway in the 1920s, Sigmund Romberg's job was to arrange the most successful Viennese operettas for American audiences, occasionally sneaking in a few of his own songs. Because of this, Romberg's style was heavily influenced by operetta, and formed a sort of missing link between old European music theater and the new American musical. After his breakthrough smash The Student Prince, Romberg teamed up with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein for The Desert Song. Inspired both by recent colonial wars in Morocco and the popularity of Rudolf Valentino as "The Sheik," The Desert Song tells the story of Margot, who is torn by her love for the meek Pierre and a mysterious renegade known as The Red Shadow (conveniently, Pierre in disguise!).