This chronology lists Lenya's major performances and records key events in her life. Only a few of her hundreds of appearances on radio and television are included. Lenya recalls a number of performances--especially from her time in Zurich and early years in Berlin--for which no corroboration has been found; such performances are not included. Accounts of her early life are largely based on her own recollections, which, in many cases, are vague or contradictory. Under these circumstances, dates have been assigned as exactly as possible, at least to within a year. Doubtful dates are noted with a question mark.
October 18, 1898
Karoline Wilhelmine Charlotte Blamauer born at Linzerstrasse 87 in the Penzing district of Vienna to Franz Paul Blamauer and Johanna Teuschl Blamauer. She was the third child born to the Blamauers; the first, also named Karoline, had died; the second, Franz, was born in 1897. Her brother Maximilian was born in 1900; her sister Maria in 1906.
1902 or 1903
The family moves to Ameisgasse 38 in the same district. Karoline sings and dances with a tambourine in a neighborhood circus and learns how to walk a tightrope.
Begins Volksschule (elementary school), then moves to a different school after one year. After the third year she moves to a school for gifted children in Hietzing, a more prosperous area than Penzing.
Begins Bürgerschule (middle school).
Travels to Zurich, arrives on 18 September 1913, and moves in with her Aunt Sophie on Zeunerstrasse 7. She begins taking ballet lessons with Steffi Herzeg, the ballet mistress at the Stadttheater, and earns money as a maid for a theatrical photographer Alexander Ehrenzweig. Within a few months, she moves into the Ehrenzweig home at Kreuzstrasse 10.
Formally hired as an apprentice in the Zurich Stadttheater ballet company, at a salary of 60 francs per month. Late in 1914 or early in 1915, she begins taking private acting lessons with young director Richard Révy. Later Révy will use her in some of the productions he directs.
Moves in with the Edelmann family; her best friend is their daughter Greta, also a ballet student.
Becomes a full-fledged member of the corps de ballet, at a salary of 160 francs per month. Her salary increases every year thereafter.
9 March 1917
Appears in a Tanzabend (Dance Evening) at the Pfauen Theater, dancing to J. Strauss's "Leichtes Blut," Gounod's "Bacchanale," Lanner's "'D'Schönbrunner' Walzer," an ensemble number, and several "National-Tänze."
With Greta Edelmann, becomes embroiled in a contract dispute with the Stadttheater. Despite the qualms of some members of the theater management, their contracts are renewed for the 1918-1919 season.
Ingeborg Ruvina becomes Ballettmeisterin at the Stadttheater. She emphasizes the Dalcroze method, which Karoline prefers to more traditional ballet instruction. However, a personality conflict soon manifests itself, and becomes worse over the next three years.
4 September 1918
Dances in the second act of J. Strauss's Die Fledermaus in the Stadttheater. She dances with three others, including her teacher and her friend Greta Edelmann, to "An der schönen blauen Donau."
22 January 1919
Opens as Lisiska in Frank Wedekind's Tod und Teufel in the Pfauen Theater, directed by Wedekind.
8 May 1919
Opens as Minna in Kurt Götz's Nachtbeleuchtung at the Pfauen Theater, directed by Richard Révy.
3 February 1920
Appears in a Tanzabend at the Pfauen Theater, dancing in the following works: "Miniaturen," "Grillen," "Der Tag," "Danse," and two ensemble numbers.
23 March 1920
With Greta Edelmann and Nina Zutter, files a complaint against Frau Ruvina, accusing her of chronic lateness to rehearsals, discourtesy, and favoritism. A month later, after several meetings, Frau Ruvina is mildly reprimanded by the theater, but Karoline undergoes a series of hearings and police investigations culminating in an order of deportation issued by the Zurich police on 26 June 1920. According to the order, the grounds for deportation are failure to pay full taxes and an immoral lifestyle, which includes living in "concubinage" with Mario Petrucci. The order is appealed, and the Stadttheater's Employees' Council, which includes Richard Révy, springs to her defense. The appeal continues for several months and causes a great deal of conflict within the ballet company and between the theater and the city government.
23 April 1920
Appears in a dance recital program featuring Bizet's Djamileh at the Stadttheater. She dances in Dalcroze's "Der Tag" and two ensemble numbers.
Karoline Blamauer adopts the stage name Lotte Lenja (changed to Lenya shortly after she moves to the U.S.) on the advice of Richard Révy. "Lotte" comes from one of her given names, Charlotte. The origin of "Lenja" is not so clear, but it is probably invented by Révy, based on the character Jelena in Chekhov's play Uncle Vanya. Her nickname for Révy is "Vanya."
3 October 1921
Leaves Zurich for Berlin with Greta Edelmann. It is unclear if she is expelled from Switzerland, or leaves of her own free will. She moves into a boarding house on the Lützowstrasse.
Lives by selling jewelry, a gift from a wealthy lover in Zurich, and looks for work in the theater. Auditions for Zaubernacht, Kurt Weill's first stage score, and he plays "The Blue Danube" for the audition. They do not see each other again for almost two years.
Gets a job with a troupe that tours the Berlin suburbs performing Shakespeare, with a producer-director named Otto Kirchner. She plays Maria in Twelfth Night, at a salary of three million Marks per performance, which later in the year inflates to more than one billion Marks.
Révy brings Georg Kaiser, one of Germany's leading Expressionist playwrights, to a performance of Twelfth Night. Révy introduces the two after the performance, and Kaiser takes a liking to Lenya. After her engagement ends, he invites her to his country house at Grünheide, an eastern suburb of Berlin on Lake Peetz, for the weekend. Shortly thereafter, the Kaisers invite her to live with them, working as a nanny and housekeeper. She accepts the offer and moves to Grünheide.
Performs in Franz Grillparzer's play, Weh' dem, der lügt, in Berlin [role and theater unknown].
Meets Kurt Weill when he is invited to Grünheide to continue a collaboration with Georg Kaiser. According to Lenya's later recollections, she met him at the train station at Kaiser's request and rowed him across the lake to the Kaisers' home. During the crossing, Weill recalled her audition for Zaubernacht nearly two years before. They begin their relationship shortly thereafter.
28 January 1926
Lenya and Weill are married in a civil ceremony in the Charlottenburg section of Berlin. Lenya later recalled that they got married to eliminate local gossip.
Plays the role of Feemy Evans in George Bernard Shaw's The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet in Berlin.
Lenya plays Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Wallnertheater in Berlin, directed by Emil Lind.
17 July 1927
For the first time, Lenya performs in a work by Kurt Weill, Mahagonny, singing the role of Jessie, directed by Walther Brügmann. The "Songspiel," with texts by Bertolt Brecht, was staged at the Deutsche Kammermusik in Baden-Baden, along with short operas by Ernst Toch, Paul Hindemith, and Darius Milhaud. Lenya, who had not been well known before, and had not been known at all as a singer, attracts some notice.
31 August 1928
The premiere of Die Dreigroschenoper at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin, with Lenya in the role of Jenny. Lenya's success leads to an active career for the next three years, including additional stints in Die Dreigroschenoper as Jenny and Lucy.
28 November 1928
Opens as Charmian Peruchacha in Lion Feuchtwanger's play Die Petroleuminseln at the Berliner Staatstheater, directed by Jürgen Fehling.
4 January 1929
Opens as Ismene in Sophocles's Oedipus auf Kolonos at the Berliner Staatstheater, directed by Leopold Jessner.
14 October 1929
Opens as Ilse in Frank Wedekind's play Frühlings Erwachen at the Volksbühne, directed by Karlheinz Martin.
24 February 1930
Records two songs from the Weill-Brecht opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny: "Alabama-Song" and "Denn wie man sich bettet" with "The Three Admirals," conducted by Theo Mackeben, on Ultraphon 371.
Records two songs from the Weill-Brecht opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny: "Alabama-Song" and "Denn wie man sich bettet" with ensemble and orchestra for Homocord (H3671).
Records two songs by Weill and Brecht from the play Happy End: "Surabaya-Johnny" and "Bilbao-Song," for Orchestrola (2311), conducted by Theo Mackeben, musical director for the stage performance.
19 September-15 November 1930
Filming of the German version of Georg Wilhelm Pabst's Die Dreigroschenoper. Lenya, as Jenny, sings "Seeräuberjenny," making it one of her signature songs (the song was sung by Polly in the stage version). The film is released 19 February 1931.
7 December 1930
Records "Aus der Drei-Groschen-Oper" (Selections from Die Dreigroschenoper) with Kurt Gerron, Erich Ponto, Willy Trenk-Trebitsch, Erika Helmke, and the Lewis Ruth Band conducted by Theo Mackeben for Ultraphon (A752-A755). She sings "Seeräuberjenny," "Barbara-Song," "Zuhälterballade," "Eifersuchtsduett," and "Moritat und Schlusschoral," taking several songs from Polly's role. She also sings the part of Mrs. Peachum in the "Erstes Dreigroschenfinale," taking the notes down one octave.
18 October 1931
Weill tells Lenya that he has bought a new house, partly as a birthday present for her, at Wissmannstrasse 7 in Kleinmachnow (a suburb of Berlin). As far as can be determined, Lenya never actually lives with Weill in the house, but the deed is in her name.
8 November 1931
Begins preparations for the Berlin run of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny.
21 December 1931
Opens as Jenny in Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at the Theater am Kurfürstendamm, directed and designed by Caspar Neher, conducted by Alexander von Zemlinsky. Weill has revised the score to accommodate non-operatic singers. It runs over fifty consecutive performances.
Records "Querschnitt aus der Oper Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny," for Electrola (E.H. 736) with the Ensemble and Orchestra of the Theater am Kurfürstendamm, conducted by Hans Sommer.
26 April 1932
Opens as Jenny in an abridged version of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at the Raimund-Theater in Vienna, directed by Hans Heinsheimer. Meets Otto Pasetti (who sings the role of Jimmy) and soon after moves in with him. Lenya and Weill are now formally separated, although they remain in regular contact by letter.
11 December 1932
Appears as Jessie in Mahagonny (Songspiel) at the Salle Gaveau in Paris, to great critical acclaim. Lenya and Pasetti spend most of December in Paris and return to Vienna around the new year.
Begins divorce proceedings against Weill in Germany. The divorce may be partly tactical, as it will allow Lenya to recover some of Weill's assets which would otherwise be seized by the Nazis. Throughout 1933, Lenya and Pasetti attempt to liquidate assorted assets (including the house) and get the money out of Germany.
Weill is now in some danger from the Nazis, who have taken power. Lenya and Louise Hartung (a Berlin photographer and friend) pack some of Weill's possessions at Wissmannstrasse 7 and drive him to Munich, where they check in to the Four Seasons Hotel. Lenya leaves Weill and proceeds to Vienna. Weill returns briefly to Berlin, but decides to flee a few days later. On 22 March, Caspar and Erika Neher drive Weill to the French border, and he leaves Germany for good, settling in Paris soon after.
5 April 1933
Meets Weill in Nancy. He offers her and Pasetti parts in his next work, a ballet with songs, with lyrics by Brecht. The piece, to be titled Die sieben Todsünden, is to open in Paris in June.
7 June 1933
Opens as Anna I in Die sieben Todsünden at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, choreographed and directed by George Balanchine. Although the engagement is relatively short, the company will also perform in London during July.
20 June 1933
Appears as Jessie in a concert version of Mahagonny (Songspiel) at La Sérénade in Paris.
30 June 1933
Opens as Anna I in Die sieben Todsünden (in an English version by Lenya and the impresario Edward James, entitled Anna-Anna) at the Savoy Theatre in London. The production runs until 15 July.
18 July 1933
Appears in a concert performance of Mahagonny (Songspiel) at the Aeolian Hall in London. Leaves England shortly thereafter and goes to Berlin, partly to take care of legal and financial business.
18 September 1933
Final divorce decree handed down in Potsdam.
29 December 1933
Appears with Pasetti in a concert performance of Mahagonny (Songspiel) at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome.
Lives with Pasetti in San Remo, where they continue to gamble and try to get Weill's money and property out of Germany. Success at both efforts is limited.
Weill, in Salzburg working on the Biblical pageant Der Weg der Verheissung (text by Franz Werfel), informs Lenya that he will go to the United States early in September to supervise the music for a New York production. He invites her to sail with him and tells her how to arrange for the necessary visas.
2 September 1935
Lenya returns to Paris and obtains a temporary visa for travel in the U.S.
4 September 1935
Lenya and Weill sail from Cherbourg on the SS Majestic.
10 September 1935
Lenya and Weill arrive in New York and move into the St. Moritz Hotel on Central Park South.
1 December 1935
Max Reinhardt, director of Der Weg der Verheissung, announces that Lenya will take a role in the production, scheduled to open January 1936. The opening is postponed for a full year.
17 December 1935
Performs excerpts from Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny and the individual songs "Seeräuberjenny," "Barbara-Song," (from Die Dreigroschenoper) and "J'attends un navire" from Marie Galante. The occasion is "An Evening in Honor of Kurt Weill," held by the League of Composers, in New York at the Cosmopolitan Club. Other artists perform excerpts from Weill's works Die Bürgschaft and A Kingdom for a Cow. Neither Weill nor Lenya is received with enthusiasm.
7 January 1937
Opens as Miriam in The Eternal Road at the Manhattan Opera House in New York, directed by Max Reinhardt. The show is a succès d'estime, but runs out of money and closes after 153 performances.
19 January 1937
Lenya and Weill remarry in a civil ceremony in Westchester County, north of New York City.
24 October 1937
Performs as The Suicide in Marc Blitzstein's radio opera I've Got the Tune, which is broadcast over CBS Radio.
Takes a nightclub engagement at Le Ruban Bleu on W. 56th Street in New York. She performs several songs by Weill, as well as a song written especially for her by Marc Blitzstein called "Few Little English." The appearance helps to make her name and talent known among the sophisticated crowd in New York, but it does not lead to any immediate offers.
28 May 1941
Lenya and Weill buy Brook House on South Mountain Road in New City, NY, next door to Maxwell and Mab Anderson. They join a colony of artists in the area, including cartoonists Milton Caniff and Bill Mauldin, painter Henry Varnum Poor, and actor Burgess Meredith. Lenya, Mab Anderson, and Bunny Caniff quickly become inseparable card players.
15 September 1941
Opens as Cissie in Maxwell Anderson's Candle in the Wind at the Colonial Theatre in Boston (out-of-town tryout). Anderson wrote the part especially for her.
22 October 1941
Candle in the Wind opens at the Shubert Theater in New York, directed by Alfred Lunt. Lenya gets good reviews, but the play is not so successful. It runs 95 performances, then goes on the road.
3 April 1943
Performs in a concert entitled "We Fight Back" at Hunter College in New York. The concert is produced and performed by European exiles. Lenya sings "Moritat," "Seeräuberjenny," "Surabaya-Johnny," and a new song, "Und was bekam des Soldaten Weib," which Weill composed a year earlier on a new text by Brecht. Weill accompanies her at the piano.
Records Six Songs by Kurt Weill for Bost Records (BA 8) in New York. The recording is supervised by Weill. Lenya sings "Surabaya-Johnny," "Denn wie man sich bettet," "J'attends un navire," "Complainte de la Seine," "Lost in the Stars," and "Lover Man" (later revised as "Trouble Man").
Records two of Weill's songs for the U.S. Office of War Information for use in radio broadcasts to Germany. One is "Wie lange noch," with lyrics by Walter Mehring; the other is "Und was bekam des Soldaten Weib," which she performed the previous year. She also records "Lied einer deutschen Mutter," with lyrics by Brecht and music by Paul Dessau.
5 May 1944
Becomes an American citizen.
23 February 1945
Opens as The Duchess in the operetta The Firebrand of Florence by Weill, Ira Gershwin, and Edwin Justus Mayer at the Shubert Theatre in Boston (out-of-town tryout).
22 March 1945
The Firebrand of Florence opens at the Alvin Theatre in New York, directed by John Murray Anderson. The show flops, running only 43 performances, and Lenya's performance is harshly reviewed. The show's quick failure effectively dissuades Lenya from acting for several years.
29 September 1948
Lenya's mother and sister arrive on a visit from Vienna, the first time Lenya has seen them since she left Europe. They stay at Brook House for almost two months.
17 March 1950
Weill has a heart attack and is taken to Flower Hospital in New York City.
3 April 1950
Weill dies of a heart attack at the hospital; the funeral is held near New City a few days later. For at least a month afterwards, Lenya is so distraught that neighbors are afraid to let her stay alone at night.
Lenya renews her friendship with writer and editor George Davis, whom she and Weill had known since the late 1930s. In the following months, he becomes her preferred companion. With Davis's help, she resolves to "fight for [Weill's] music, to keep it alive, to do everything within my power for it." She maintains this goal with great tenacity until her death. Her voluminous legal and business correspondence, starting in 1950, attests to her perseverance.
10 July 1950
Attends a Kurt Weill Memorial Concert at Lewisohn Stadium in New York, along with 10,000 other people. Maxwell Anderson delivers a eulogy, as he did at the funeral.
3 February 1951
Performs in a "Kurt Weill Concert" at Town Hall in New York. The program is repeated 17 February at Town Hall and 31 March at the 92nd Street Y. She participates in the second half of the program, a concert version of Die Dreigroschenoper. In the role of Polly, Lenya sings most of the female characters' musical numbers. This is her first public performance since The Firebrand of Florence (and since Weill's death).
7 July 1951
Marries George Davis in a civil ceremony witnessed by Maxwell Anderson and Milton Caniff in Rockland County.
31 October 1951
Opens as Xantippe in Maxwell Anderson's Barefoot in Athens at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York, directed by Alan Anderson. Although Lenya was briefly replaced during out-of-town tryouts, her performance generally wins praise from reviewers. The play, however, does not, and runs only 30 performances.
23 February 1952
Performs in a "Kurt Weill Concert," at Town Hall in New York. Although the first half of the program is quite different from that of the previous year, the second half is the same.
14 June 1952
Appears as Jenny in a concert performance of Marc Blitzstein's English adaptation of Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) at Brandeis University, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
Lenya and Blitzstein meet with two novice theater producers, Carmen Capalbo and Stanley Chase, who want to mount The Threepenny Opera. Their willingness to stick closely to the score and script (unlike other candidates) wins Lenya over. They also insist that she play Jenny.
10 March 1954
Opens as Jenny in The Threepenny Opera at the Theater de Lys in New York (off-Broadway), directed by Capalbo. The show is a hit, but closes after 96 performances because another play is contracted for the theater. The score is recorded by MGM Records (E3121) and released in July 1954 as the first off-Broadway cast recording.
3 April 1955
Lenya and Davis arrive in West Germany, her first visit since 1934. They are there to do research on Weill for a biography and to make recordings of Weill's music for Philips (which co-produces with Columbia Records in the U.S.). While in Berlin, Lenya crosses to East Berlin to visit Brecht. She and Davis remain in Europe until mid-July. In addition to making a recording herself, Lenya supervises the first recording of Weill's and Brecht's opera Der Jasager (1930) for MGM Records (E3270); recorded in Dusseldorf in late April, it is released in 1956.
5-7 July 1955
Records Lotte Lenya singt Kurt Weill in Hamburg for Philips (B 07 039); released in the U.S. by Columbia (ML 5056) in November 1955 as Lotte Lenya Sings Berlin Theater Songs of Kurt Weill.
20 September 1955
Re-opens as Jenny in The Threepenny Opera at the Theater de Lys, and remains in the cast (with a brief hiatus) until April 1956. She wins a Tony Award in 1956 as Outstanding Supporting or Featured Musical Actress, and the production wins a special Tony the same year. The Threepenny Opera runs 2,611 performances, finally closing 17 December 1961, having broken the record at that time for the longest-running musical.
28 September 1955
Attends recording session for "Mack the Knife" with Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars, in New York. Armstrong includes Lenya's name in the lyrics, an innovation other singers will take up. "Mack the Knife" has already been recorded as a popular song, and it will be recorded several more times in the 1950s, by Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra, among others. At the same session, the band makes another recording of "Mack the Knife" with Lenya singing; this recording is not issued until 1982 on Book-of-the-Month 21-6547.
14 August 1956
Lenya and Davis return to Germany for more recordings. Brecht dies in East Berlin at the age of 58.
1-8 September 1956
Records Die sieben Todsünden for Philips (B 07 186) in Hamburg, conducted by Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg; Columbia releases the recording in the U.S. (KL 5175) in March 1957.
3-11 November 1956
Records Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny for Philips (L 09 418-20) and Columbia (K3L 243) in Hamburg, conducted by Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg. At some point during this trip, she and Davis meet Anna Krebs, who works for Philips, and who becomes one of Lenya's best friends.
Release of Johnny Johnson on MGM Records (E3447). The recording, made in 1956, features Burgess Meredith and several members of the Threepenny Opera cast. Lenya supervises the recording and sings one song, "Mon Ami, My Friend."
Records September Song and Other American Theatre Songs of Kurt Weill for Columbia (KL 5229), conducted by Maurice Levine; it is released in February 1958.
25 November 1957
George Davis dies of a massive heart attack in Berlin, at the age of 51.
11-15 January 1958
Records Die Dreigroschenoper for Philips (L 09 421-22) and Columbia (O2L 257), conducted by Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg. She is also contracted to record Das Berliner Requiem, but cancels the sessions after Davis's death. She returns to the U.S. in late March.
31 July 1958
Performs a "Kurt Weill Concert" at Lewisohn Stadium in New York.
Records Invitation to German Poetry for Dover (IP-9892), reading a selection of 42 German lyric poems from Walther von der Vogelweide (13th century) to Brecht. The album is released in the autumn of 1959.
4 December 1958
Opens as Anna I in Die sieben Todsünden, in an English translation by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman (The Seven Deadly Sins). The production, choreographed once again by George Balanchine, remains in repertory at the New York City Ballet through January 1960, traveling to Los Angeles during the last week of July 1959. Lenya's performance gets rave reviews; she is now well established as the definitive interpreter of Weill's music.
15 February 1959
Appears in concert at Carnegie Hall, performing a tribute to Kurt Weill. The first half features a wide-ranging selection of Weill songs; the second half is a concert performance of Die Dreigroschenoper, conducted by Maurice Levine.
Records The Stories of Kafka ("A Hunger Artist," "An Imperial Message," "A Fratricide," "The Cares of a Family Man," "Up in the Gallery," "A Dream," and "The Bucket Rider," all read in English) for Caedmon (TC 1114). The recording is released in November 1962.
7 February 1960
Performs in "A Kurt Weill Evening" at Carnegie Hall in New York, conducted by Maurice Levine. The supporting cast is nearly the same as in the previous year's Carnegie Hall concert, and the program ends once again with a concert rendition of Die Dreigroschenoper.
6 April 1960
Opens as Anna I in the German premiere of Die sieben Todsünden at the Städtische Bühnen in Frankfurt, choreographed by Tatjana Gsovsky. The production is accompanied by revivals of Weill's early one-act operas Der Protagonist and Der Zar lässt sich photographieren. The triple-bill remains in repertory during the summer.
6 May 1960
Performs in a Musica Viva subscription concert at the Herkules-Saal in Munich, conducted by Miltiades Caridis. The program includes Mahagonny (Songspiel), followed by Lenya's performances of Weill-Brecht songs and Die sieben Todsünden. Lenya repeats the program three days later in Darmstadt. The program is broadcast on Bayerischer Rundfunk on 5 September 1960.
9-10 July 1960
Records Happy End for Philips (B 47 080 L) in Hamburg, singing all the songs with choral backing, conducted by Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg. The Columbia (OL 5630) issue is not released in the U.S. until August 1964.
18 October 1960
Opens as Jenny in The Threepenny Opera at the Music Box Theatre in Los Angeles, directed by Carmen Capalbo, in a west-coast production featuring several of the actors who opened the show in New York in 1954. Lenya remains in the cast for about a month.
29 November 1960
Arrives in London to film The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, directed by José Quintero and distributed by Warner Brothers. Lenya plays Countess Magda Terribili-Gonzales, a procuress. She is nominated both for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award as best supporting actress, although she does not win either. Filming continues until March 1961. Lenya returns to the U.S. early in April, after a visit to Vienna.
3 January 1962
Opens in Brecht on Brecht at the Theater de Lys for a regular run, succeeding The Threepenny Opera. The original cast soundtrack is recorded by Columbia (O2S 203). Originally scheduled for a limited six-week run, the show logs over 200 performances.
Meets the painter Russell Detwiler at a party given by W.H. Auden in New York. A courtship soon begins.
11 September 1962
Opens in Brecht on Brecht at the Royal Court Theatre in London for a four-week limited engagement. Detwiler travels to London separately for the opening.
2 November 1962
Marries Russell Detwiler in London. They take a honeymoon in Germany and return to New York on 29 November.
Films From Russia with Love in Europe, directed by Terence Young. Lenya's performance as Russian spymaster Rosa Klebb, including hand-to-hand (or foot-to-hand) combat with Sean Connery as James Bond at the end of the film, introduces her to the widest audience yet.
28 October 1964
Broadcast of "Lotte Lenya: The Broadway Years of Kurt Weill" as part of the "Stage 2" series on CBS-TV. The program is directed by Jack Landau and co-stars Russell Nype.
8 January 1965
Performs her third, and last, concert at Carnegie Hall, "A Kurt Weill Evening."
12 June 1965
Opens as Mutter Courage in Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder at the Ruhrfestspiele in Recklinghausen, directed by Harry Buckwitz. The limited engagement runs about six weeks. For the first time in many years, Lenya gets predominantly negative reviews. The role is closely associated with Helene Weigel, Brecht's widow and Lenya's frequent sparring partner in Weill-Brecht disputes; the German critics prefer Weigel's famous interpretation of the role. The performance is televised 25 July 1965 on 2. Programm in Germany.
Tapes a one-hour program with George Voskovec, "The World of Kurt Weill," for WGBH-TV (National Educational Television) in Boston. It is broadcast in February 1967.
Harold Prince offers Lenya the part of Fräulein Schneider in the Kander-Ebb-Masteroff musical Cabaret, which she accepts.
7 October 1966
Broadcast of Ten Blocks on the Camino Real on National Educational Television (WHYY in New York). Lenya plays the Gypsy in the drama based on Tennessee Williams's one-act play.
10 October 1966
Opens as Fräulein Schneider in the Boston tryout of Cabaret.
20 November 1966
Cabaret opens at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York, directed by Hal Prince. The show runs 1,165 performances, with Lenya in the cast the entire time except for a few brief hiatuses. The cast recording is made in December and is released on Columbia (KOL 6640). She is nominated for a Tony Award in 1967 for best actress in a musical.
Travels with Detwiler to Rome for filming of The Appointment, directed by Sidney Lumet for MGM. Lenya plays another procuress, Emma Valadier. The film flops in its first screening in Cannes in 1969 and is never released in the U.S. Lenya returns to Cabaret in May.
Records "Welcome Home" and "Young Blood" by John Cacavas and Charles O. Wood (also known as Charles Osgood) for Metromedia Records (MM-165). The recording sells few copies due to its topical nature.
30 October 1969
Detwiler dies from a fall caused by an alcoholic seizure. Lenya buries him near Kurt Weill in Mount Repose Cemetery. While trying to honor previous commitments, she goes into a period of inactivity and depression which lasts for about a year.
9 November 1969
Performs in "The Music of Kurt Weill," a concert at Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) in New York. Lenya sings "Bilbao-Song" and "Surabaya-Johnny." Many other singers participate; the first half of the program is a selection of Weill's songs and the second half is a concert performance of Lady in the Dark.
14 October 1970
Films an interview with Edwin Newman, which is broadcast later that month on NBC Television.
6-7 February 1971
Appears in a performance of Brecht on Brecht at the University of Cincinnati.
9 June 1971
Marries filmmaker Richard Siemanowski in a civil ceremony in Rockland County. They had met several months earlier when Lenya expressed interest in having a documentary about her and Weill made. Siemanowski does draft a script entitled "Lenya, and a Girl Named Jenny," but it is never filmed. Lenya informs only two or three close friends that she has married again.
16 June 1971
Travels to Amsterdam to participate in the Holland Festival performance of a concert adaptation of Weill's Der Silbersee by David Drew and Josef Heinzelmann (25-26 June 1971). She returns to the U.S. early in July. The performance is recorded on Unique Opera records (UORC--261-A), but it is not released commercially.
14-22 April 1972
Performs as Jenny in The Threepenny Opera at Florida State University in Tallahassee. At the same time, the LeMoyne Art Foundation in Tallahassee holds an exhibit of Detwiler's paintings. This proves to be Lenya's last full-scale stage appearance.
10 February 1973
Performs in "Bertolt Brecht zum 75. Geburtstag" at the Schauspiel Frankfurt. First on the program, Lenya sings "Ballade vom ertrunkenen Mädchen," "Seeräuberjenny," and "Bilbao-Song." The retrospective features readings and songs from Brecht's plays, poetry, and journals. The program is broadcast the next day on Hessischer Rundfunk.
6 June 1973
Divorces Siemanowski on the grounds of abandonment. In fact, she and Siemanowski have never lived together.
12 February 1974
Broadcast of "Trio for Lovers," part of the CBS Daytime 90 series. Lenya plays Rosa Harcourt, owner of a music shop.
1 January 1975
Broadcast of Lenya's appearance on the Dick Cavett Show on ABC Television. Cavett learned the German words to the "Bilbao-Song," and he sings with her on the program, which is also broadcast in Germany on 9 March 1976.
15 November 1976
Opening of an exhibition at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center, New York, entitled "Weill-Lenya." Lenya had spent a large part of 1976 combing her and Weill's possessions to gather material for the exhibition. The exhibition runs until 12 March 1977. On 4 April, Lenya donates Weill's autograph score of Die sieben Todsünden to the Library.
Films a scene with Burt Reynolds in Semi-Tough, directed by Michael Ritchie and produced by United Artists. Lenya plays Clara Pelf, a masseuse with unorthodox technique. The film is released in November, and Lenya's scene, though brief, is memorable.
18 October 1978
Celebrates her eightieth birthday by attending a concert of Weill's rarely-heard orchestral music performed by the Greenwich Philharmonia at Avery Fisher Hall. Though she does not perform, Lenya appears on stage in her bathrobe and accepts birthday greetings from the audience. (She broke her wrist in September and wears the bathrobe to conceal the sling.)
12 November 1978
Sings "So What" and "The Pineapple Song" from Cabaret at a concert entitled "Sing Happy: The Work of John Kander and Fred Ebb" at Avery Fisher Hall. This is her last public performance.
Meets Teresa Stratas, who will sing the role of Jenny in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (premiere: 16 November 1979). Lenya is deeply impressed with her and publicly passes to Stratas her mantle as the premiere interpreter of Weill's music. Lenya attended the premiere at the Met, just as she would attend other new productions of Weill's operas in the next year.
18 November 1979
Inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame, along with Cheryl Crawford, Alan Jay Lerner, José Quintero, Elmer Rice, and Tennessee Williams.
2 April 1981
Attends the first meeting of a reconstituted Board of Trustees for the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the last board meeting that she attends.
1 July 1981
Deposits most of Weill's manuscripts and papers in her possession at the Yale University Music Library.
Lenya's doctor informs her that the end is near; she enters Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital for cancer treatments anyway.
27 November 1981
Dies at the age of 83.
1 December 1981
Buried next to Kurt Weill in Mount Repose Cemetery.