Comedy with music, in three acts (in German).
Book by Dorothy Lane, pseudonym for Elisabeth Hauptmann and Bertolt Brecht.
Lyrics by Bertolt Brecht.
Final tableau from original production, Berlin, 1929.
The stained-glass windows depict Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, and John D. Rockefeller, from left to right.
Cast: Singing roles -- Bill Cracker (high baritone), Sam Worlitzer (baritone), Hanibal Jackson (baritone), Lilian Holiday (soprano), Lady in Grey (mezzo-soprano), Jane (mezzo); chorus, SATB.
Speaking roles -- Dr. Nakamura, Jimmy Dexter, Bob Merker, Johnny Flint, Salvation Army Captain, Mary, Miriam.
Orchestra: alto sax (fl, picc, cl); ten. sax (baritone sax, cl); tpt; tbn; banjo (Hawaiian guitar or mandolin, bandoneon or accordion, bass guitar); perc (2nd tpt); piano (harmonium).
Duration: full evening, 45 minutes music
Published Editions: English text and lyrics, Samuel French, SF 10019
piano-vocal score (German-English, 1976), Universal Edition, UE 11685
study score (German-English, 1981), Universal Edition, UE 17243
Performance Rights and Rentals: USA, CAN: EAMC
UK, BREV: FBE/EAMC
All other territories: FBE/UE
First Production: September 2, 1929, Berlin, Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, Erich Engel, dir., Theo Mackeben, cond.
Set in early 1920's Chicago, the plot pits organized crime against the Salvation Army. Lieutenant Lilian Holiday makes a brave attempt to reform a group of gangsters led by Bill Cracker and the Lady in Grey. As she is making progress, she is thrown out of the Salvation Army because they fear she is too close to the gangsters. But since she is the most popular evangelist, they are forced to let her back into the fold. Meanwhile, the gang robs a bank on Christmas Eve; thanks to Bill's growing affection for Lilian, they decide to unite with the Salvation Army and open a new office downtown, to work on saving the souls of capitalists.
Der kleine Leutnant des lieben Gottes
Geht hinein in die Schlacht
Bruder, gib dir einen Stoß
Fürchte dich nicht
In der Jugend gold'nem Schimmer
Das Lied vom Branntweinhändler
Der Song von Mandelay
Das Lied von der harten Nuss
Die Ballade von der Höllen-Lili
|CBS MK 42636
CD reissue: Sony Classical 82876 78754 2; reissued as Sony Classical 88691932192
|Lotte Lenya, Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg, cond. [arrangement]|
|Capriccio CD 60 015-1||Gabriele Ramm, Walter Raffeiner, Karin Ploog, Steven Kimbrough, Pro Musica Köln, König Ensemble, Jan Latham-König, cond.|
"Time and again [the songs] strike a note of haunting nostalgia that could almost make you cry."
--Daily Mail, 1965
"Brecht-Weill never produced better songs than in Happy End."
--Jack Kroll, Newsweek, 1972
"The Weill score is a rich, smoky evocation of Chicago in 1919, full of laments, hymns, anthems, calls to social revolution, and of course, 'The Bilbao Song,' which . . . is in its own word, 'fantastic.'"
--Mel Gussow, New York Times, 1972
"A delight . . . constantly entertaining . . . . The music is sheer genius. A musical that needs no recommendation other than itself. It charms, it giggles and it moves."
--Clive Barnes, New York Times, 1977
"Happy End is a treat: musical comedy with a wicked leer and some of Kurt Weill's most sinuously seductive songs . . . . The score is a beauty with its hymns . . . aggressive declarations . . . and silken ballads.
--Douglas Watt, Daily News, 1977
"Weill creates a dramatic internal rhetoric by alternating abrasive, staccato jazz-tempo passages with langorous melodies of rich and striking beauty."
--T.E. Kalem, New York Magazine, 1977
"Gritty, angry and harsh . . . totally captivating in an iconoclastic way . . . . Happy End deserves to be seen . . . . There's no denying the power of Weill's daring music."
--Hap Erstein, Washington Times, 1984
"[Brecht's] lyrics . . . drew out of Kurt Weill a torrent of music that ranks among the best theater songs of his or anyone else's time."
--Alan Rich, L.A. Daily News, 1990
"The whole show is terrific."
--Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star, 2003
"Flat-out fun, with just enough comic-strip exaggeration to register indelibly."
--Stewart Brown, Toronto Sun, 2003
"Pure, unadulterated and acerbic joy. The Happy End score, from 1929, proves to be every bit as flavorful as its 1928 predecessor, The Threepenny Opera. Another Threepenny, with an arguably richer score."
--Steven Suskin, Playbill, 2007
"A brassy, entertaining evening in the theater . . . apparently giving the performers just as much pleasure as it gives the audience . . . . Delightful."
--Hilde Haider-Pregler, Wiener Zeitung, 2010