UK's National Theatre's Threepenny Opera is
George Ikediashi and Rory Kinnear. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.
The National Theatre
’s new production of The Threepenny Opera
opened 26 May, and the critics widely agree – it’s great fun and the score still dazzles. Here’s a sampling of the reviewers’ praise:
“Brecht and Weill's The Threepenny Opera
– here self-consciously dubbed the 3 Penny Opera – is blessed with one of the great scores of modern musical theatre…. [D]irector Rufus Norris and playwright Simon Stephens have gone for broke with a staging and adaptation that convey the piece’s complexities – a larger than life parable of amoral greed, subversive sexuality and being called to account by rough justice – in a way that is frequently bonkers…. The music is given a jagged, full-blooded treatment by David Shrubsole's onstage band.” – Mark Shenton, The Stage
“Norris strips away some of the excess in Brecht’s ‘epic theatre’ send-up of Twenties bourgeois decadence to reveal its hollow, desolate heart…. Simon Stephens’s sardonic, vulgar, blunt new version skewers such modern social ills as the nepotistic peerage system, fat-cat golden handshakes and little England patriotism without forcing contemporary parallels too far down throats…. Weill’s score contains all the emotion Brecht’s book deliberately lacks and it’s during the musical numbers, performed by a band dressed like ghoulish apparitions from a Weimar cabaret, that the production soars.” – Claire Allfree, The Telegraph
“Rufus Norris…oversees a revival that’s enjoyably raucous and packed with amusing detail…. Prolific playwright Simon Stephens has conjured up a grubby new version of Bertolt Brecht’s portrait of a callous society sagging beneath the weight of austerity…. [A]fter a tentative opening it fizzes with ideas, doing justice to Kurt Weill’s score, a blend of cabaret and jazz that sounds timelessly, enticingly sleazy.” – Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard
“Simon Stephens’s lean adaptation scrubs the text clean of superfluous speeches or muddied plots, without erasing Brecht’s grubby thumbprints.” – Alice Saville, The Independent
Tickets are now on sale (and selling fast!) through 1 October. Read the feature from our Spring Newsletter.
Past LLC Winners Join Mary Testa for
"Kurt Weill on Broadway" at 54 Below
Clockwise from top left: Mary Testa, Maria Failla, Jacob Keith Watson, Michael Maliakel.
Three past Lotte Lenya Competition winners will join Broadway, film and television actress Mary Testa for an all-Weill evening at Manhattan’s famed Feinstein’s/54 Below on 7 June. The program, titled “Kurt Weill on Broadway,”
will feature each of the performers in solos, duets and ensembles from Weill’s Broadway scores, including numbers from Threepenny Opera
, Lady in the Dark
, Street Scene
, One Touch of Venus
, and more.Jacob Keith Watson
, 2012 Second Prize winner, recently appeared as Robert Livingston in the New York City Center Encores! production of 1776
and can be seen this summer in Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera’s Chicago
in the role of Amos Hart. Maria Failla
, 2012 Lys Symonette Award winner, was recently seen as Antonia/Fermina in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s (Washington, DC) Man of La Mancha.
Previously, Maria appeared in the national tour of the Broadway revival of Evita
and the international tour of West Side Story.
Michael Maliakel has racked up recent competition wins, with a Third Prize at the 2015 Lenya Competition, Gold Medal at the 2016 American Traditions Competition and First Prize at the 2014 NATS National Music Theater Competition.
The evening is presented by Light Opera of New York and Eric Sweeney, with musical direction by Matthew Stephens. Find out more at LOONY's website
Weill at Summer Festivals
Warmer weather and longer days means the advent of summer music festivals, with their open-air venues, lighter musical fare and relaxed atmosphere. Kurt Weill’s music can often be found at such events, usually in cabaret or song evening settings, and this summer holds many such offerings.
In August, the Edinburgh International Festival brings together several artists performing the songs of Kurt Weill. Film, television and stage actor Alan Cumming (The Good Wife
) takes his cabaret evening “Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs”
to the Festival for a three-week run, 6-27 August. Cumming’s show includes “What Keeps Mankind Alive?” from The Threepenny Opera
Baritone Simon Keenlyside
performs songs of Weill and others on 11 August. Australian cabaret artist Meow Meow performs Weill songs with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret
, 8-9 August. The ACO’s tour will also bring this program to London’s Cadogan Hall
29 July-3 August, and the Tanglewood Festival
, in Lennox Massachusetts, 14 August.
Several other notable summer festivals have Weill on their calendars: In London, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, featuring HK Gruber as vocal soloist, performs selected songs from The Threepenny Opera
at the BBC Proms
on 8 August. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival
in Australia opens 13 June with “The Weill File,” a special homage to Weill. On 15 July, Ute Lemper presents her song evening at the Spiegeltent at Bard SummerScape
in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. International opera star Deborah Voigt presents “An Afternoon of American Song,” including songs by Weill, at the Glimmerglass Festival on 5 August. Tanglewood Music Center
, the prestigious training program at the Tanglewood Festival, presents a semi-staged production of The Seven Deadly Sins
, August 8.
The Spring 2016 Kurt Weill Newsletter is now available.
Print subscribers should begin to receive their copies next week.
Not a subscriber? Subscribe or
read it online.
Weill Songs54 Below, New York
Mary Testa, vocals, with prizewinners of the Lenya Competition: Maria Failla, Jacob Keith Watson, and Michael Maliakel
Matthew Stephens, musical director7 June
Opéra Montpellier, Montpellier, FRWeill Songs
Marie-Ève Signeyrole, director; Rani Calderon, conductor
10 - 16 June
Teatro Real, Madrid
Angela Denoke, soprano; Tal Balshai, piano; Norbert Nagel, wind instruments
Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny