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Lecture 7

EURO 3300 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Kurt Weill, Alan Jay Lerner, The Flight Across The Ocean

European Studies
Course Code
EURO 3300
Roberta Cauchi- Santoro

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January 31st, 2017
The Threepenny Opera by Brecht and Weill:
Threepenny Opera:
Dramaturgy Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)
Music Kurt Weill (1900-1950)
31 August 1928, Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, Berlin
Performing at the height of the Republic music of this Opera echoes 1920s Berlin
The Beggar’s Opera:
John Gay, London, 1728
o Satirical, lyrics set to popular music (of all kinds) of the day
o Targeted to working class
o Had an extremely successful run
o Contributed to demise of Italian opera seria in London
1920s revival, London: more than 1,400 consecutive performances
Kurt Weill:
B. 1900, Dessau, Germany
Studied composition with Ferruccio Busoni
By 1925 was considered a leading composer of his generation in Germany, along with Ernst
Krenek and Paul Hindemith
1926, first opera Der Protagonist
1926 Royal Palace
Became known for stylistic plurality
Incorporation of American dance idioms and jazz into music theatre
Pursued collaboration with leading playwrights in Berlin
1927, Mahagonny Songspiel, first collaboration with Bertolt Brecht
Led to Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, full-length opera, staged in 1930
5 works composed together:
1. Die Dreigroschenoper
2. Happy End
3. Der Jasager (school opera)
4. Das Berliner Requiem (radio cantata)
5. Der Lindberghflug (radio cantata)
Weill in America:
Had to leave Berlin in 1933, fled to Paris, then London
Landed in New York in 1935
Film scores You and Me (1938) by Fritz Lang
Broadway Knickerbocker Holiday (“September Song”), Lady in the Dark (Ira Gershwin,
libretto), One Touch of Venus (Ogden Nash, lyrics). Street Scene (Langston Hughes, lyrics),
Love Life (Alan Jay Lerner), Lost in the Stars
The Threepenny Opera:
First produced in NY in 1933, neither Brecht nor Weill involved; not successful
1954 translation by Marc Blitzstein; 2,700 performances of the production
Numerous productions since
Mack the Knife (Die Moritat von Mackie Messer):
After the a954 off-Broadway revival, became a hit song
Blitzstein translation
o Oh the shark has pretty deer teeth dear,
o And he shows them pearly white
o Just a jack-knife has Macheath dear
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