Mittwoch, 27. Februar 2019

Kurt Weill - The Threepenny Opera (Off-Broadway Cast, Theatre de Lys, NY, 1954)

"Die Dreigroschenoper", Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's radical reinterpretation of John Gay's 18th century operetta "The Beggar's Opera", was a sensation in Europe after its German premiere in 1928. But the show, with its decadent portrait of the underworld, was less appealing to Americans when it appeared as "The Threepenny Opera" on Broadway in 1933 and became a quick flop. It took another 21 years and a new English adaptation by Marc Blitzstein for "The Threepenny Opera" to succeed in New York.

Playing at a small Greenwich Village theater, the new version ran 2,611 performances (longer than any Broadway musical up to that time), meanwhile establishing off-Broadway as a legitimate extension of the theater. The cast album, the first such recording ever made of an off-Broadway show, suggests what it was that packed them in downtown. The music is played by an eight-piece band - keyboards, two clarinets, two trumpets, trombone, percussion, and banjo or guitar - making for spare arrangements that support the heavily literate songs in which Brecht comments sardonically on the world. The cast is led by a strong Polly Peachum, sung by soprano Jo Sullivan, and by Lotte Lenya (Weill's widow) in the role of Jenny Towler, here given the revenge fantasy "Pirate Jenny." Gerald Price confidently handles "The Ballad of Mack the Knife," soon to become a surprising pop hit.


Lotte Lenya (Jenny)
Bea Arthur (Lucy Brown)
Charlotte Rae (Mrs. Peachum)
Jo Sullivan (Polly Peachum)
Scott Merrill (Macheath "Mack The Knife")
Martin Wolfson (Mr. J.J. Peachum)
Gerald Price (The Streetsinger)
George Tyne (Tiger Brown).

Theatre de Lys, Greenwich Village, NY 03/10/1954

01. Prologue (Spoken)
02. Overture
03. The Ballad of Mac the Knife
04. Morning Anthem
05. Instead-Of-Song
06. Army Song
07. Wedding Song
08. Love Song
09. Ballad of Dependency
10. The World Is Mean
11. Melodrama and Polly's Song
12. Pirate Jenny
13. Tango Ballad
14. Ballad of the Easy Life
15. Barbara Song
16. Jealousy Duet
17. How to Survive
18. Useless Song
19. Solomon Song
20. Call from the Grave
21. Death Message
22. Finale The Mounted Messanger
23. Ballad of Mac the Knife


Marc Blitzstein, the son of a wealthy banker, was born in Philadelphia on 2nd March, 1905. His father was a socialist, but Blitzstein later recalled that he was "as modern in social thinking as he was conservative in musical taste". A child prodigy, he performed as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra when he was only fifteen. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and later trained with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and Arnold Schonberg in Berlin.

Blitzstein wrote plays as well as music and joined the Group Theatre in New York City where he worked with Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan and Clifford Odets. Members of the group tended to hold left-wing political views and wanted to produce plays that dealt with important social issues.

In 1932 Blitzstein wrote "Condemned", a play about the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. The following year he married the novelist, Eva Goldbeck. Blitzstein was openly homosexual and the couple had no children. Eva introduced her husband to the work of Bertolt Brecht, a German writer who she had translated into English. Blitzstein wrote in 1935: “It is clear to me that the conception of music in society… is dying of acute anachronism; and that a fresh idea, overwhelming in its implications and promise, is taking hold. Music must have a social as well as artistic base; it should broaden its scope and reach not only the select few but the masses”. Soon afterwards he joined the American Communist Party. He also contributed to left-wing journals such as "New Masses".

Like other former members of the American Communist Party who worked in the entertainment industry, Blitzstein's name appeared in "Red Channels". In 1958, Blitzstein received a subpoena to appear before the "House Committee on Un-American Activities". Blitzstein admitted his membership of the Communist Party but refused either to name names, or co-operate any further. As a result he was blacklisted.

Kurt Weill - The Threepenny Opera (Off-Broadway Cast, 1954)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

5 Kommentare:

Geoff hat gesagt…

Hello !

Is it only on my side or do You also have difficulties with the links of the last few posts ... they lead to nowhere!

Geoff hat gesagt…

Funny ... now it works again ... seems to have been a temporary problem ... sorry for making trouble

zero hat gesagt…

Hope you enjoy the album. Best wishes!

Il Commendatore hat gesagt…

Thanks!

zero hat gesagt…

You are welcome!

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