Kurt Weill: The Threepenny Opera

Kurt Weill: The Threepenny Opera

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by Lotte Lenya
     
 
Lotte Lenya and Wilhelm Bruckner-Rüggeberg's 1958 recording of "Die Dreigroschenoper" was the last in a series of albums Lenya made or supervised of her late husband Kurt Weill's music for Philips starting in 1955. The first of these, ultimately released as Lotte Lenya sings Kurt Weill, was made during her first visit to Germany since being forced out by the

Overview

Lotte Lenya and Wilhelm Bruckner-Rüggeberg's 1958 recording of "Die Dreigroschenoper" was the last in a series of albums Lenya made or supervised of her late husband Kurt Weill's music for Philips starting in 1955. The first of these, ultimately released as Lotte Lenya sings Kurt Weill, was made during her first visit to Germany since being forced out by the Nazis in 1934. By the time of the January 1958 sessions for "Die Dreigroschenoper," Lenya found herself widowed once again; second husband George Davis collapsed and died of a heart attack three months before the session, just like her first husband. These were especially dark days for Lenya, who had already seen more than her share of dark days. That Lenya was able to pull up herself up by her bootstraps and participate in this recording was nothing short of a miracle, though in terms of performing in the role of Jenny, Lenya was the ultimate pro; she knew it in three languages and, in the end, sang it more than 2,000 times. That, and her desire to carry through a commitment she and Davis had already made together, was probably just enough to get Lenya through this recording, a significant point as she acted in a supervisory capacity over the whole project. The 1958 "Die Dreigroschenoper" was the first complete recording of this work, and likewise the first to represent Weill's score and instrumentation exactly as it is on the page; seeing to it that this occurred without compromise was one of Lenya's duties in the session. The 1954 Theatre de Lys recording and its 1930 predecessor with the Lewis Ruth Band were heavily cut, condensed, and arranged, though not quite so "ruthlessly" (pardon the pun) in 1954 as in 1930. This is the clearest advantage to this set over many others; Bruckner-Rüggeberg maintains the right sense of dance tempos throughout, and although his pacing is somewhat slow, at least "Die Zuhalterballade" is performed as a true tango as Weill intended. The overall mood of this recording is more sober and reserved than most others. This may partly derive from Lenya's state of mind at the time, but perhaps also due to the notion in 1958 of "Die Dreigroschenoper" as less of a biting leftist satire and more of a repertory piece; so much water had gone under the bridge since its Berlin premiere in 1928. Although Lenya, of course, is perfect, some of the cast choices are less than ideal -- Johanna von Kóczián is somewhat less than fresh as Polly and Erich Schellow portrays Macheath almost like a secondary operetta character. However, other choices are ideal; Willy Trenk reprises his role as Peachum from the original cast, and Wolfgang Neuss is an ideal Moritatensänger. Neuss' recording was one of at least three utilized by television pioneer Ernie Kovacs in his frequent employment of "Die Moritat" as background music for spot gags; the others were Kurt Gerron's 1930 version and one recorded by Bert Brecht himself. The 1982 CD version of the 1958 "Die Dreigroschenoper" was one of the earliest CD packages originating from CBS Masterworks in Germany; it reflects the LP-informed production values of that time. While it comes in a fairly big box, it only includes one disc; the box is to help house the 1/8" thick, 96-page booklet included. The printing of the booklet is rather lightly applied, and one may wish to opt for reading glasses or a magnifying glass to enjoy the three-language libretto inside. Nevertheless, for those looking to become acquainted with "Die Dreigroschenoper" for the first time in its native tongue, CBS Masterworks' issue of Philips 1958 recording remains a first-rate option.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/12/2007
Label:
Sony Bmg Europe
UPC:
5099704263724
catalogNumber:
042637
Rank:
191965

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), opera

    1. Overture. You are about to hear an opera for beggars  (02:01)
    2. Act 1. The Ballad of Mack the Knife. First you will hear a penny-dreadful ballad about the bandit M  (03:11)
    3. Act 1. Mr. Peachum's Morning Hymn. Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum has opened a store  (01:14)
    4. Act 1. Instead-Of Song. Polly Peachum hasn't come home  (01:51)
    5. Act 1. Wedding Song For Poor People. Deep in the heart of Soho  (01:25)
    6. Act 1. Cannon Song. In reminiscence of the time they spent together in their youth  (02:20)
    7. Act 1. Love Song. Do you see the moon over Soho?  (01:55)
    8. Act 1. The Song of No and Yes (Barbara Song). By means of a little ditty  (04:46)
    9. Act 1. The Uncertainty of Human Conditions. Mr. and Mrs. Peachum advise their daughter  (04:01)
    10. Act 2. The Stable. Mackie has to flee  (00:56)
    11. Act 2. Polly's Farewell Song. He will never return  (01:51)
    12. Act 2. Intermezzo. All right, now, if you should see Mack the Knife  (00:28)
    13. Act 2. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. There's a man who is a very Satan  (03:43)
    14. Act 2. Pirate-Jenny or Dreams of a Kitchen Maid. Song of a little barmaid  (04:22)
    15. Act 2. The Procurer's Ballad. Macheath and Jenny the whore  (04:38)
    16. Act 2. The Ballad of Pleasant Living. Gentlemen, you be the judges  (02:31)
    17. Act 2. The Jealousy Duet. The first clouds in the skies  (02:31)
    18. Act 2. Fight About the Property. Jealousy, rage, love and fear  (02:07)
    19. Act 2. Ballad About the Question "What Keeps a Man Alive?". You gentlemen, who teach us  (04:02)
    20. Act 3. The Song About Inadequacy. What on earth is that?  (02:14)
    21. Act 3. Song of Solomon. You saw sagacious Solomon  (03:37)
    22. Act 3. Call From the Grave. The whores have betrayed Macheath  (00:53)
    23. Act 3. Ballad in Which Macheath Asks Everyone for Forgiveness. Fellow citizens, herewith I take lea  (04:05)
    24. Act 3. The Riding Messenger. Esteemed public, we're at that point  (05:02)
    25. Act 3. Threepenny Finale. Do not prosecute too much transgression  (01:07)
    26. Act 3. The Final Verses of the Ballad. And now at this happy ending  (01:22)

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Kurt Weill: The Threepenny Opera 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I haven't yet had a chance to play my new CDs, I can say I'm very happy about the speed with which they were sent to me, and the good condition in which they arrived. Package includes notes and libretto in German, English, and French.