Bertolt Brecht’s and Kurt Weill’s school opera Der Jasager will be performed today by Eszter Novák and students of the University of Theatre and Film Arts at the Budapest Festival Theatre. Zsolt Jankó conducts the Budapest Festival Orchestra.
The school opera goes back to the Japanese fable Tanikô, a play from the Nôh theatre. Weill composed Der Jasager in the first half of 1930, pausing only for the turbulent première of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny on 9 March 1930. The term “school opera” gave Weill a number of possibilities for combining the concepts of “education” and “opera”: the opera teaches the composer – or a whole new generation of composers – to approach the operatic genre in a new way. But it is also a question of re-training the process of operatic performance, with the end goal of staging the work so naturally and simply that children become the ideal performers. And finally, Weill also considered “school operas” as meant for use in schools: “it is thus essential that a piece for schools should give children the opportunity to learn something, beyond the joy of making music.”
Kurt Weill’s and Bertolt Brecht’s Der Lindberghflug (also Der Ozeanflug / The Flight across the Ocean) was premièred 85 years ago, on 27 July 1929 at the Kurhaus Baden-Baden.
Aged just 26, Kurt Weill realised that radio offered the potential for a new genre of art. Subtitled ‘Radiolehrstück’ (teaching piece for radio), Der Lindberghflug was a product of this idea. It consists of 16 short sections, the shortest lasting barely a minute and the longest four minutes. The rapid alternation of soloists (narrator, tenor, baritone, bass), choir passages and instrumental interludes, as well as of styles – recitative, ‘sprechgesang’ (speech-song), baroque-style passages for choir, Weill’s typical bitter-sweet melodies – creates immense dramatic tension. It is not surprising that Weill also envisaged the work for stage.
Tonight at 9 p.m. (cet/cest): “Kurt Weill: American”, a 3-part series on Red River Radio by Michael Lasser.
From the programme: “To mark the 85th anniversary of Weill's best-know work, The Threepenny Opera, and the 15th anniversary of the Lotte Lenya Competition for young musical theater singers, Fascinatin' Rhythm host Michael Lasser will be joined by Kurt Weill Scholar and Foundation President Kim Kowalke for a series of three special programs that explore the composer's place in American popular music.”
Exactly 88 years after its world première, Kurt Weill’s Concerto for Violin and Winds will be performed by the ensemble mini on 11 June 2013 during their mini-Fest 2013, “Beethoven & Mahler, re-balanced”.
From the ensemble’s press release: “Joining them is Mister X, one of the finest violinists of our time. He has performed with the world's greatest artists and orchestras. BUT he is masked man, without a reputation or identity: no one knows who he is and no one will ever know who he is. His debut with ensemble mini reduces the appreciation of the soloist to the max, challenging the status quo and inviting us into a world where fame, prestige and hype are replaced by quality, purpose and meaning.”
Also on the programme: Cliff Colnot’s chamber orchestral arrangement of Mahler’s Adagio of Symphony No. 10.
Watch the ensemble mini perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 in Klaus Simon’s arrangement:
Johnny Johnson marked Weill’s first contribution to the American musical theater. The anti-war musical opened in November 1936 on Broadway, where it enchanted audiences and critics alike. Lee Strasberg directed, and the cast included a young Elia Kazan.
In a poignant if unforeseen comment on the financial crisis in Greece, Kurt Weill’s opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny comes to the Megaron in Athens tonight in the acclaimed production from Madrid’s Teatro Real.
Art mirrors reality once again. The Madrid performance was accompanied by a public sector strike, with uncollected rubbish lying in the streets of the capital.
It’s a historic day in Vienna, with the first ever performance of a Kurt Weill work at the Vienna State Opera.
Ingo Metzmacher conducts the Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in a production by Jérôme Deschamps. Elisabeth Kulman, Angelika Kirchschlager and Christopher Ventris sing the lead roles.
See more at the Vienna State Opera website.
The Critical Report won First Prize for Book Design in Educational Folios and the score won Second Prize for Full Score Music Notesetting.
Congratulations to The Opera Group for their production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, now on at the Young Vic in London.
The Telegraph gave it four coveted stars: “If you want to see a theatre at full stretch and maximum throttle, head to the Young Vic, which is reviving its thrilling production of Kurt Weill’s 1947 ‘Broadway opera’, Street Scene.”
The production tours to Vienna and around the UK following its run in London. See the Opera Group website for dates and venues.
Here’s a snapshot from last week’s première of Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
The production by La Fura dels Baus came to Moscow fresh from its success at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
The banners read “Freedom for the Oligarchs” and “For a fair justice”.