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The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music
E-News July 2013
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The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music E-News
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Raul Esparza in The Cradle Will Rock, Encores! Off-Center
Raul Esparza

Henry Stram, Anika Noni Rose, and Martin Moran in The Cradle Will Rock, Encores! Off-Center
Henry Stram, Anika Noni Rose, Martin Moran

Danny Burstein in The Cradle Will Rock, Encores! Off-Center
Danny Burstein

Judy Kuhn in The Cradle Will Rock, Encores! Off-Center
Judy Kuhn

Anika Noni Rose in The Cradle Will Rock, Encores! Off-Center
Anika Noni Rose

Photos: Joan Marcus
Blitzstein's Cradle Will Rock Rocks New York

Marc Blitzstein's 1937 pro-labor musical The Cradle Will Rock dazzled audiences and critics last week in an all-star concert staging that launched New York City Center's new summer series Encores! Off-Center. Directed by Sam Gold with music direction by Chris Fenwick, the cast featured Danny Burstein as Mr. Mister, Raul Esparza as Larry Foreman, Peter Friedman as Harry Druggist, Anika Noni Rose as Moll, and Judy Kuhn as Editor Daily/Sadie. Along with unanimous praise for the vibrant performances, here's what the critics had to say about the work:


“Blitzstein’s book retains a biting humor … The score is supple, eclectic and consistently engaging … [Blitzstein] knew his Bach and Beethoven, and riffs on both to comic effect in Cradle, but the score has a jaunty, driving appeal that ultimately owes more to jazz and other pop music forms … The music rambles widely across genres, to continually revivifying effect. And when Blitzstein allows the have-nots to step forward, the impulse to skewer recedes and he reveals a gift for gently soaring melody that can be enchanting.” – New York Times 


Cradle has been less known for Blitzstein’s marvelous score and his surprisingly witty fist of a book than for the tabloid-ready [1937] premiere … The songs, driven by unsettling rhythms, play ironically and lusciously with popular tunes and dance forms … [with] a devastating finale.” – Newsday 


“This searing, hilarious and deeply affecting production ... exposed the rich theatricality of Blitzstein’s 1937 attack on the evils of unrestrained capitalism … A relevant and vital powerhouse … The Weill/Brecht influence is obvious, as is Blitzstein's melding of classical chops and American popular idiom … The savage humor and brazenness of this show still retains impact.” – Jewish Daily Forward


“Blitzstein’s eclectic, mostly sung-through score is a jazzy, propulsive mix of classical parody, pop tunes and dramatic ensemble numbers. Some of the music is haunting (“Moll’s Song”), some of it is funny (“Croon Spoon”) and all of it is effective, with a smoky flavor redolent of Kurt Weill but all-American in its urgency.” – New Jersey Newsroom 


“An uncommonly powerful concert production … In 2013, Blitzstein’s show feels more relevant than ever.” – Theatermania 


“Infused with raw energy … Blitzstein … combined moments of realism, vaudeville, Brechtian detachment and other theatrical forms in his episodic story that continually shifted tone … His balance between spoken book dialogue and sung recitative is striking in its dramatic effectiveness.” – Broadway World


Productions of The Cradle Will Rock may be eligible for funding from the Kurt Weill Foundation through our Grant Program.


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Essential Recording of The Threepenny Opera conducted by Leonard Bernstein Now Available

A new 12-CD set titled Leonard Bernstein: Historical Recordings 1946-1961 contains an unexpected gem, an archival recording of the very first performance (in concert) of Marc Blitzstein's English adaptation of Die Dreigroschenoper at Brandeis University, June 14, 1952. Blitzstein's version, which made The Threepenny Opera popular in the U.S. and U.K. and has been performed thousands of times, would soon break all the records for long-running musicals and establish off-Broadway theater as a cultural force in the U.S. 


Bernstein was a close friend of Blitzstein, and he used the first Festival of the Creative Arts at Brandeis to showcase the new adaptation. The Threepenny Opera cast included Lotte Lenya and Jo Sullivan, both of whom appeared in the stage premiere in 1954; Blitzstein himself narrated, and Bernstein conducted.


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Leonard Bernstein: Historic Broadcasts, 1946-1961

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Joshua Weilerstein, conductor
Joshua Weilerstein

The Seven Deadly Sins, Scottish Opera
The Seven Deadly Sins, Scottish Opera

Katharina Thalbach
Katharina Thalbach

Upcoming Performances

Weill songs
Ute Lemper, soloist.
August 4

The Seven Deadly Sins
Joshua Weilerstein, conductor; Maria Paz Castillo, Anna I.
August 14

The Seven Deadly Sins
Scottish Opera, Edinburgh
Kally Lloyd-Jones, director; Jessica Cottis, conductor; Nadine Livingston, Anna I.
August 20-23

Symphonic Nocturne from Lady in the Dark 
Marie Galante Concert Suite 
Four Walt Whitman Songs 
Weill Songs 
Karl-Heinz Steffens, conductor; Katharina Thalbach, singer; Ute Gfrerer, soprano; Andreas Schmidt, baritone. 
August 22

Die Dreigroschenoper
Robert Wilson, director; Hans-Jörn Brandenburg, Stefan Rager, conductors.
August 23-25

Kurt Weill Performance Calendar
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